Mr. Keller and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. Six years of marriage, eleven years of togetherness and 2 kids later, we are putting marriage first.
Bottom line: Mr. Keller was there before the children, and I want to be sure that he’s there after the children move out!
While I totally understand that everyone has to do marriage their own way, for us, it works best when we put our marriage ahead of our kids. We strongly believe that a happy, healthy marriage is the foundation upon which a family is built.
First, when BK and MK see their parents acting like loving, respectful adults, it reassures them that their family is on a solid ground. It’s comforting to them, and it reinforces the idea that love and respect hold our family together. Mr. Keller and I are modeling how we believe a marriage should look. We are demonstrating to BK and MK that married couples spend time together and respect one another.
Second, spending time alone together helps to reinforce our relationship. Mr. Keller and I try to have a date night at least once a month. Just spending time together without the children is incredibly helpful to our marriage. You see, during our typical evening with the children present, we have to concentrate on the children. BK and MK demand a lot of attention! Going out without them allows me to look at Mr. Keller and really see him. I can actually hear every word he says without a little person suddenly needing a drink or assistance in the restroom. I can focus on Mr. Keller.
Before MK was born, Mr. Keller and I would have a mini-date night every night. BK went to bed early–around 7:00 or 7:30. I would feed BK and bathe him before bedtime and then have a meal on the table for just Mr. Keller and I after BK went down for the night. It was perfect! MK’s birth put a kink in that. First, newborn’s schedules are a little bit different from a toddler’s, and I just couldn’t quite get them aligned. Then, as MK became older, she also became a terrible sleeper. By the time I get MK down for the evening, I am exhausted.
I’ll admit, during the week, it’s hard to put our marriage first. We both work all day in jobs that can both be demanding and exhausting. Then, at home I have chores around the house, dinner to prepare and children to care for. Mr. Keller often has activities around our tinker farm to take care of (darned grass always needs mowed this time of year and hay constantly ready to be baled!). By the time the children are finally settled in for the night, I’m tired and just don’t really want to talk, and Mr. Keller is either sound asleep in his recliner or caught up in watching a sporting event on the television. If it weren’t for our date nights, I truly believe that our marriage would suffer
Mr. Keller and I have even purchased Chicago Bears season tickets this year as a way to guarantee that we spend time together. Last year, we strongly considered it, but ultimately I backed out. I was worried that we would be away from the children too much. The truth is, we should have bought tickets last year, too! The tickets are relatively inexpensive (the Bears haven’t had a winning record in years), and Mr. Keller and I will get to go and enjoy the games together. The kids will be fine!
BK and MK usually stay with their grandparents when we go on our date nights. It works out extremely well for all of us as it gives Mr. Keller and I an opportunity to focus on our relationship, and it helps the children build bonds with their grandparents. We’re all benefiting!
In my view, focus on the family starts with focusing on your spouse. Mr. Keller and I believe strongly that a healthy spousal relationship is the foundation of our family. This means that we regularly schedule maintenance on that foundation (or date nights!). We focus on putting marriage first and recognize that the children will be fine. BK and MK certainly aren’t suffering!