How We’re Getting Happier. Because emotions and relationships can have a big influence on your health and fitness, and on whether or not you achieve your goals, I am doing a five-part series this week on what I’ve found to be effective in maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. Today is part three of the series.
Key #1: Your partner gets the benefit of the doubt.
Key #2: Take the Long View
Key #3: Wait to have kids*
I have heard many, many times of people who had kids too early.
Not that they would trade them for a chance to go back, they love their kids just as much as anyone else, but I’ve seen the difficulties caused by having children earlier rather than waiting a bit.
Sure, we all know people who had children right out of the gate and who not only have a great marriage but have well-adjusted, good kids to boot. More power to them and I’m glad it worked out.
For many people, however, I suspect that giving yourself a small buffer will be an easier path to wind between living along, then living together, then living together with one or more other people.
Psychologists rate getting married as one of the most dramatic changes a person can make in their life. There’s a reason for this: you are learning a million little things you never knew about your spouse, no matter how well you thought you knew them before.
Not only are you learning, you are adjusting, making allowances and concessions, negotiating to find a balance between your wants and theirs, and generally discovering what it actually takes to get along with this person 24/7. You are combining finances, buying things together, planning a future together . . . all things which can be stressful in good times but are more so when done all at once for the first time ever.
Giving yourself time to get these things figured out can lead to a much more complete and workable solution than trying to do the same under the pressure of either an impending birth (and Raging Pregnancy Hormones!).
Practical Application. For most folks, people getting married in their 20s or 30s, I suggest giving yourself at least three years to grow together, explore each other, play together, and generally become more comfortable with each other before you add children to the mix.
Flipside. I am NOT saying that people should wait until everything is perfect before you have kids. You will always be able to come up with a dozen reasons that having a child isn’t the best idea right now. The time will never be “right” so you shouldn’t let temporary impediments keep you from sharing your life with children.
There is nothing quite so wonderful as having a daughter or a son (or five like us) to play with and cry with and spend time together.
Do have kids. Just don’t rush into it.
Upshot. Give yourself at least a few years of being married to each other before you are married to each other plus kids.
We did . . . and it made a world of difference in our ability to stay happy together, to love our child more, and to be responsible and effective parents.
Alternate. I hear many of you (must be some sort of disturbanceintheForce) asking, “But John, we’re already married. We already have kids. We didn’t wait. Help!”
OK . . . calm down . . . we can handle this . . . deep breaths. . . . 😉
Seriously though, what if you didn’t take some time when you first got married and now you have kids and it’s taking a little toll on your relationship?
Since we can’t undo the past (and we wouldn’t want to give up our resultant kids anyway), the answer is simple, if not always easy to achieve: make time for yourself.
It costs more. It takes more planning. It can put a kink in other plans. All that may be true, but if your parental duties are causing stress between you, probably the best way you can relieve some of the pressure is to have a dedicated date night.
It doesn’t matter which night you choose. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same night each week. What matters is the time you spend together, sans kiddos, cementing your bond with each other and making sure that your relationship grows even while you handle the day-to-day duties of raising the kids.
On a related note. Shine.com had an article yesterday called 5 lessons learned from 18 years of marriage.
- A strong marriage is built of tiny actions.
- But don’t forget the grand gesture.
- Never underestimate the importance of a good laugh.
- All good marriages have a supporting cast.
- Treat your spouse as you hope your children will treat theirs.
Plan for Week 40.
Red = a negative deviation | Green = a positive deviation | Blue = a note