On Strong Families: Nurture your Marriage

Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of the parent.
—Carl Jung

I was exhausted. My husband had been in Alaska for the herring season, leaving me on my own, while all four kids all seemed to be going through a rough patch. One hated school, one was consistently bucking the rules and being vocal about it, one was sad over a lost best friend, and one spent too much time in the woods doing God- knows-what. I didn’t think he was gathering berries.

My husband returned to a frazzled family. I was angry at the world and my lack of control over anything important. We all needed unstructured time and some belly laughs between us, but it was impossible with our spring schedule of sports, fundraisers and school events. Instead we bickered.

Friday morning a few days later my husband told me to pack an overnight case.
Where are we going? I asked dubiously.
You’ll find out, he said.
I can’t. We have no baby sitter, we have 2 baseball games Saturday, and Sunday is Mother’s Day, I said.
I’ve taken care of it, he said.

And he did. I rode the ferry into town to meet him feeling anxious, not overjoyed that my husband wanted to kidnap me.

We spent the weekend in a hotel with room service. We watched three movies in a row, slept in, and ate eggs Benedict in the morning that I didn’t cook. We talked, uninterrupted by the phone or kids or the thousand tasks of running a household. I was able to frame all my worries with him, and lay them down with strategies we both came up with. We drank wine. We belly laughed.

My husband and I returned home on Mother’s Day to bouquets of flowers, and handmade cards from all four of the kids that declared their love, and that I was the best Mom ever.

I didn’t care if it was the truth or not, for on that day I was. We had rekindled the spark in our marriage. I was reminded why making babies is so fun and meaningful, even with all the challenges that come with the rich territory of family.  We would soldier on.

Studies have shown that a strong partnership contributes to a sense of well being in our children. When things are going well between the parents, there is a sense that all is well in the world for children. We are a team with our partner leading the family into the future. When we take care of that primary relationship, we are in effect, taking care of our children.
Yet it is all too easy to make our partner second fiddle when faced with the daily stresses of raising a family. There will never be enough time, or the right time, or the tasks completed before we can relax and enjoy the reasons we chose this particular person to join us in the rodeo ride of life.

Choose now. Have regular date nights. Try and remember what made you laugh and connect in the early stages of your relationship. There will be times when one partner is too depleted to make the effort of connection, and that is the time for the other to step forward. It may be one sided. For a long time. But in the end the rewards of a robust family unit with all its miracles and disasters–will develop lives that are fully lived, not simply endured.

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  1. Loved this post thanks for reminding me of what’s important!

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