Someone once told me the biggest threat to a relationship was time. I assumed they were referring to the fact that the average marriage, in the United States, is only 7-8 years long, and the worldwide average is only about 15 years. Considering in the majority of countries, the average human lives somewhere between the ripe old age of 70 or 80, this shows that time is not something that most relationships handle well. However, after I had kids, I realized that this advice had another meaning. If I wrote down the instigator of every argument my Hubby and I had, the overwhelming majority would say time. Not enough time to spend together. Not enough time to get everything done, and most often, not a fair balance of free time. Personally, I plan to beat time in both senses presented, and live happily ever after.
Managing Your Responsibilities in a Relationship With Kids
For any family unit to prosper there must be a delegation of responsibility. It’s more important, however, that an equal portion of that responsibility is placed on all capable members. The old, “I go to work so I shouldn’t have to do housework” adage, is a great way to foster some fierce resentment from someone who spends all-day working on housework, and 24-hours a day caring for children. The breadwinner so to speak, should of course get credit for the hours they are away at work in this equation, but it should be remembered that everyone needs a helping hand now and then, whether they earn a paycheck or not.
- Sit down as a family and make a list of responsibilities, then discuss what each member enjoys and dislikes doing, and also what they feel capable of doing. Work-out a realistic game plan for getting what needs done, done. It should never be one person just deciding what the other should do. This leaves the other partner feeling subordinate, and inadequate, if they can’t live up to the others expectations.
- Keep the lines of communication open, so if someone starts to feel like they’re getting the short end of the broom stick, they can speak up before it begins to cause problems in the relationship.
- Avoid placing stereotypical roles on responsibilities. There are no such things as women’s work and men’s work.
Managing Your Free Time in a Relationship With Kids
I know how easy it is after a long day of working ‘at home or at a job’ to zone out on your own personal hobbies or even just killing time online, but if you let these activities consume all of your free time outside of work, household responsibilities and the kids, you have no time left for your partner. When you don’t make time for the person you love they can begin to feel like you simply don’t want time with them.
- Find yourself a reliable babysitter, with a decent pay rate, and set dates. Whether you actually go out and have a date night, or just sit at home and enjoy it being just you and your partner again for awhile, the effort towards the relationship goes longer than you’d expect.
- Keep track of how much free time you have, and what you’re doing with it. I’m guilty of losing time on Facebook, or writing, while my husband often loses hours working late from home. Neither of us really realized how much time we were wasting. Once you know how much time you have to spend, it’s easier to manage it in a manner that works for everyone, you included.
Finding a Balance in Time
Finally, we come to the biggest problem in my relationship, a combination of both of the above issues. My hubby works from home, just like I, so it seems our weekends no longer exist. There was a time when he was oblivious to the fact that I worked all week too. I wanted a break too. Anytime both of us were invited to do something, and a sitter couldn’t be found, I stayed at home, because that was my job. It left me feeling left out, but worse it caused me to begin to resent my Hubby’s freedom. I felt like I was the only one that had kids, and so received all the limitations and responsibilities that accompanied them. It almost ruined my relationship to let those feelings simmer and boil without expressing them. In every aspect of a relationship, communication conquers all. Never forget to share how you feel, whether in writing or verbally.
- Separate free time equally. Once all the responsibilities are taken care of, and you’ve made time for one another, what’s left? Take that time and divide it. As an example, the average working couple has Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday during the day mostly free. One partner could watch the kids Friday night while the other does what they want, Saturday could be spent as a family or a couple, and Sunday could be the other partner’s day to do what they want. This leaves both parents with freedom.
- Try to have some perspective and empathy for your mate. It can be easy to become engrossed in your own problems and not notice when someone else needs a break. Sometimes little things like making dinner when it’s not your job, or watching the kids for an hour so your significant other can take a breather, go further than anything else in a relationship with kids.