(Interestingly, I have not changed this original post as much as did the other posts in this series so far except to add some information. Some topics are just tried and true, I think.)
(The original disclaimer to this post also still stands: this post is directed toward day-to-day marital issues, not marital issues where physical or emotional abuse is taking place.)
Yes, we are back to one of my favorite soapbox issues: your relationship with your spouse, partner or significant other (and to my single mommies, I am sorry that this post today probably won’t have a lot of challenging information for you! )
As mindful parents and as homeschooling parents, what happens between the adults in the household is vitally important. The Gesell Institute book “Your Eight-Year-Old” talks about how the eight-year-old is acutely interested and aware of the quality of the relationships of the adults in the house and is watching intensely. I would say this starts well before the age of eight! You are modeling for your children what a healthy relationship looks like, the roles of not only a mother and a father but of a husband and a wife. What are you modeling for your children?
Please, please think about what your home will look like in twenty years when your children are gone and you and your husband are left alone together. What will your relationship look like? I have a friend who asked that question of me, but also added: “And how can you prepare for that day now?”
What a great question! What are we doing as wives, partners, helpmeets to make our relationship with the adult of the family strong? How is this relationship the rock upon which parenting and homeschooling is built? And if it is not the rock, why not? Has it fallen into a state of familiar inattention and is it last on the list?
How can we grow together in love?
Many of you know I am a proponent of an early bedtime for children past infancy and nap stages so Mom and Dad can have time for their relationship at night. I know that does not resonate with everyone out there, but I am throwing it out there again because I have seen it work personally with quite a few parents in my area. Just being able to have some time to finish sentences together and be, well, adults, often seems to put a spark back into the relationship.
Some parents do arrange dates for lunch, coffee, or dinner and take along a sling-able baby or a toddler who would be distressed by the separation but leave the older children at home with a trusted relative or friend. For some families this works well.
Other families choose to have dates “in” and have books, games, movies, take -out food or a romantic dinner ready to go after the kids fall asleep. This is another very viable alternative.
Intimacy can be a difficult subject to discuss, but I personally believe that physical intimacy is very important to the spousal relationship. Many men will open up to emotional intimacy after the physical intimacy has been fulfilled. Physical intimacy can be emotionally fulfilling for them. Women tend to want the emotional intimacy first. Work together in these areas to make things fulfilling for both of you!
Other important areas toward improving marital intimacy includes having respect for your husband. Does he never,ever do anything right? Do you talk about him negatively in front of your children? Many of the men I speak with about marriage and family less tell me that respect is such a hot button subject for them. Karol Ladd in her book, “The Power of a Positive Mother” writes on page 193 (and I LOVE this!): “Our kids pick up on the kindness and respect we show to other people, beginning in our own homes. When we speak with respect to our husbands, our kids learn how to speak with respect to one another.” Don’t you all love that, or is it just me?!
Often as an attached parent, it is easy to put your children ahead of your marriage (and indeed many times this HAS to be the case for infants, older infants and even toddlers who need help at bedtime and such – these early years won’t last forever!). However, once you have multiple children, one can only put the marriage on the back burner for so long before I think one has to come back to a balance that includes the adults’ relationship in the house.
Here are some oldie but goodie posts I have written regarding challenges in marriage and working toward better relationships in the home:
The Stages of Marriage here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/19/inspirations-from-tapestries-the-stages-of-marriage/
And here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/08/parenting-as-partners/
This topic of focusing on your spouse is important, so very important! Perhaps today you can meditate on ways to communicate better, consider the needs of the whole family (not only the children!) and your role not only as a mother and as a homeschooling mother/teacher, but your role as wife as well.
Many blessings and much love,