By CHARLES SELL, HomeLife Magazine
Sharing his frustration with our men’s group, Tim grumbled: “I don’t always get home early enough to spend time with the kids in the evening.
“During the late afternoon, my boss will ask me about a project or give me something to do that keeps me at the office later than I want to be.”
[img_assist|nid=6778|title=Family matters|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=59]For decades, working moms have complained about the difficulty of balancing work and family life. Recent surveys indicate that working fathers are now voicing the same concern.
Because of the demands of their jobs, many men are having trouble finding the time to play and talk with their kids, to help them with their homework, and to do all the things they believe a great dad does.
Unfortunately, according to James A. Levine, author of Working Fathers (Perseus Press), many dads have opted to find time for their children by taking it away from their wives.
Neglecting your spouse is not just bad for your marriage; it’s also troubling for your children. Kids hurt when their parents’ marriage suffers, and they often bear the brunt of any ill feelings their parents have toward one another. And when they detect trouble between their parents, children feel insecure. Many children head to school in the morning anxiously wondering if their parents will still be together when they return home in the evening.
When a child senses Mom and Dad are drifting apart, he may act out in ways that bring his parents together by making them focus on his problem. Any number of problems may occur: misbehaving at school, bed wetting, neglecting homework, even using drugs. Counselors often treat children’s problems by helping their parents deal with marital issues.
Whatever you do to balance the demands of being a parent with being employed, don’t do it at the expense of your marriage.
Many husbands are employing the following four strategies to avoid doing this. Which do you – or could you – use?
1. Spend time together as a family. A survey of parents by Baby Talk magazine confirmed the obvious: When baby arrives, couples have less conversation, intimacy, lovemaking, spontaneity, and romance. Still, you can enjoy some great moments with your wife while you’re bathing the kids, getting them ready for bed, playing games, walking, or cycling.
2. Create some private moments together. You still need some time without the kids. It takes privacy, as well as time, to nourish your love and passion. Combine working around the house with working on your relationship. Instead of dividing up the chores, do them together. For people in love, just being in the same room can foster a feeling of closeness.
3. Schedule time alone together each day to catch up on each others’ feelings, experiences, and thoughts. Communication is a key to a great marriage. Getting young children to bed early can help make this happen.
4. Plan a regular date night to help keep romance alive. Having raised four children, my wife and I attribute our present fantastic relationship to our commitment to reserving one night a week for just the two of us. We had picnics, went to movies, or did something that got us out of the house for some fun, spontaneity, and intimacy.
Couples especially need to be careful not to neglect being alone together when their children are young. I’ve known of couples who, after having a baby, hadn’t been on a date with each other for several years.
Worried about leaving their child with someone else, they unnecessarily endangered and sacrificed their own relationship.
There are scores of other ways to keep the luster on your marriage: writing notes, phoning, faxing, and e-mailing each other, for example.
Dads, do your kids a favor, will you? Keep loving their mom, and take time to show her.