At the altar, we were told that even though logic dictates that 1 + 1 = 2, when it comes to marriage, our own 1 + 1 should equate to 1.

However, let’s face it, after saying ‘I do’, it doesn’t take long for couples to realize that keeping the equation at ‘1’ is not always the easiest of things. To make matters worse, ‘it’ becomes even much tougher when the children begin trooping in. Yes, couples quickly realize that maintaining a ‘1’, after several other little ‘1s’ have been added to the already jam-packed equation, involves deliberate effort and determination. Let me explain…

If care is not taken, even though children are supposed to be ‘blessings from above’, they could end up being used as the puns which drive couples apart. Yes, many spousal relationships are suffocated as parents become obsessed with fulfilling their parenting responsibilities which often centre around nurturing and/or providing.

Nurturing Versus Providing
Now, please, don’t let’s get carried away with which of the two roles is tougher. Every home has its dynamics and I am deliberately not going to carry out a debate on how roles are being shared between parents. For today, no matter your family dynamic, my focus is on encouraging you and your spouse to ensure that you don’t get so engrossed with your new-found responsibilities (the children) that you lose yourselves in process.

Sadly, in too many homes, the worlds of mommy and daddy revolve around the kids. Hence, somewhere along the line, mommy and daddy gradually begin to grow apart as they ‘live’ and ‘breathe’ their kids.

Interestingly, they actually think they are doing ‘it’ for the kids. However, guess what? At the end of the day, if mommy and daddy break that all-important equation of 1+1=1, it is the kids who get to suffer the sting and the stigma most. That is why there is no such thing as overemphasizing the importance of couples ensuring that the responsibilities which come with parenting do not drive them apart.

If my words are still sounding like Spanish, perhaps the following real-life examples will clarify the point I am trying to drive home.

I know a lady who suddenly woke up to the fact that her children were actually breaking up her marriage. So, she began to make amends. Despite how busy both she and her husband were, she made up her mind that they would someway, somehow begin to make out time for each other.

For starters, she made sure that the kids got into bed early. Then, knowing that her husband had developed the habit of watching news at night, she ignored her tired body and started joining him for the news. At first, she started with 5 minutes of the news before graduating to 10 minutes then 12 minutes…. That way, while the news was on, she and hubby both started talking about stuffs other than the children. From ‘talking’, they began ‘joking around’. From ‘joking around’, they began ‘cuddling’ and on and on their story went as they reconnected not just physically but emotionally as well.

There is another story of a mom who one day bundled off her children to her parents. She really just needed the time-out with her husband. Yes, she felt they had a lot of catching up to do and needed to get the children out of the way. So, one day, hubby came back asking where the kids were. ‘At my mom’s’, she replied…and that was the beginning of their something new.

I will share yet another story of a mom who realized that the longer her children stayed up at night, the naughtier they became. Now, in the midst of all the children drama, she and her husband often ended up quarrelling. So, what did she do? She began tucking her kids into bed early. That way, she got rid of both the cranky children and the couple drama.

I will stop now with the examples. Please note that this is not a call for moms to be irresponsible or to relent in their responsibilities. On the contrary, we must diligently keep at ‘it’. However, keeping at it doesn’t mean that our spousal relationship should get damaged in the process. There is a balance which we must all find.

So, if you need to ‘kick’ your 4-year old out of your bed, please do. If you need to trouble grandma with the kids again, please do. If you and hubby need to occasionally meet up for lunch during break, please do. If you need to watch that game of football with hubby, please do. If you need to put in more effort into your appearance, please do. Bottom line, responsibly do whatever you need to do. This is because at the end of the day, children grow up more wholesome if they get to watch their parents maintain a united, loving front.

Also note that this is not just about keeping the physical intimacy alive. It’s all about remaining connected with your spouse, on all levels – emotionally, intellectually, etc. You will realize that if you stay involved in each other’s life, this connection will be in no way forced.

Okay, yes, I noticed that it appears that all the effort is coming from mommy’s own side. What about daddy, right? To be honest, I tend to believe that if daddy sees mommy putting in all this effort, he too will pull his weight. Besides, who says you cannot have a conversation with daddy about all these changes which you deem necessary?

Let me end by saying this – One day you will wake up and realize that all those lovely children have moved out. Yes, they would have all left to start lives of their own. When that time comes, would you suddenly feel choked being alone with your spouse? Would you feel like a stranger standing next to the person you married? Would you find yourself at a loss for words now that there is no ‘children’ talk to hide behind? Or, now that your work is partially done, would you both be able to relax in each other’s arms?

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