By Suzie Chafin
"There is nothing easy about raising children, especially two at a time. There is nothing easy about being married. I think my husband and I hang on by principle. Our life is nothing like we planned." -- LPARKS_7
Today I am giving you permission to stop searching the Internet for articles about how to keep your toddler twins from biting one another, or how to successfully potty train triplets. Today I want you to think about your spouse.
Oh, you remember that person. He’s the one you crash into in the hallway as you change the babies’ diapers in the night,. She’s that mad woman who is trying to take your oldest child to soccer, feed the twins and somehow do laundry all at once. When is the last time you were able to focus on just you and your spouse without any extras tagging along? It may have been weeks or months since you even thought about doing so. Today I want to encourage you to take a breath and remember how it used to feel to hold your husband’s hand, or to leisurely kiss your wife. Ahhh, it was nice, wasn’t it?
When you brought your sweet little bundles of joy home, you prepared your home. You bought a baby monitor, two cribs, and diapers (lots and lots of diapers!) No doubt you studied books on how to care for infants and how to manage multiples. While you trained for what was sure to be one of the greatest races of your lives, nobody taught you to train for the inevitable strain all those little ones would put on your marriage. Over time, if you allow that strain to persist and grow, your marriage will suffer and may even be at risk.
I know you are "BUSY." “What do you expect?” you may demand. I can demand that you make your marriage a priority. Without your marriage being a number one priority, Mom will suffer, Dad will suffer and as a result, the whole family will suffer. I know it is hard, but it is worth it. Your family will be better for it and best of all you will enjoy doing it!
How do you start? Simple. First, let’s look at the needs of both mom and dad as a unit.
Need One: Moments Together (Alone)
Make a list of possible babysitters you can use with phone numbers. Parents, friends, neighbors, teenagers (you may need a few of these at once), workers at your church or daycare are all great people to put on this list. Determine whom you need to pay or whom you could trade favors with to get the precious babysitting hours needed.
Schedule a babysitter at least twice a month. To do this you must plan ahead. Your wife will enjoy having a date to look forward to and an opportunity to enjoy your company without the children. Your husband will have the satisfaction of making his wife happy (do not underestimate this power!) On your dates, do the hobbies you enjoyed before you had multiples. Go to a movie, eat dinner out, or just have fun. Enjoy each other’s company with your spouse being the main attraction (in other words, not the kids).
Need Two: Treat Each Other With Kindness
We all know that kids can get on our nerves. Fussy infants and temperamental toddlers can make any grown up as grumpy. Sleepless nights, endless demands, and everyday stress make us all irritable at times. In spite of this, don’t allow your spouse to bear the brunt of your daily frustrations.
If you like the way Dad loaded up the stroller and took all the kids on a walk without being asked to, TELL HIM. If you like the way Mom painted pictures with the triplets, TELL HER. Thank each other, praise each other, encourage one another, and complement one another. Everybody loves to be praised. We are quick to praise our kids, but slower to praise our spouse. Don’t be frugal with your appreciation. Use it often.
Need Three: Let the Little Things Pass
When you see those dirty diapers Dad left on the floor, resist the urge to flog him with your words. When Mom just didn’t have time to make the bed today, look the other way. Don’t criticize and don’t tear each other down. Save your words for times when they are really necessary, not for the little irritations in life.
Suzie Chafin is a Dallas, Texas mom of four children, including identical twin boys. She writes and lectures about family topics such as postpartum depression, managing multiples and Christian parenting. She is the author of Your Pregnancy Devotional.