Do you find it difficult to find the time to have meaningful talks with your spouse while you are raising kids? Welcome to the club! This is a very common problem. We often hear:
“I can’t get a word in edgewise!”
“Do you even care anymore? You don’t talk to me!”
“I can’t talk over the noise!”
“We need to talk, but when?”
Have you ever said those things or thought them? We sure did —especially during the days we were raising our sons. We used to be good at talking together, but while we were raising kids, it seemed like there wasn’t the time carve out times to talk together. It became extremely frustrating!
We’re sure there are many of you stuck in this same situation. So, what do you do about it?
Communicating While Raising Kids
Maybe you can learn some things from an article we found in a back issue of Marriage Partnership Magazine. The article was titled, When Kids Come Along—Becoming parents forced us to reinvent our communication. It was written by Me Ra Koh.
In the article the author talked about how she and her husband struggled to communicate when her daughter Pascaline was a toddler. It seemed that everything centered around their daughter’s activities. They rarely found time to discuss anything and when they did it was either too late in the evening to have a good conversation or they were too tired. Eventually they realized they needed to “reinvent” their ways of communicating with each other. Their marriage relationship was suffering because they could never seem to carve out the time to talk together in meaningful ways. So Me Ra Koh says they asked her parents to babysit so she could discuss this matter with her husband. When they talked:
Brian expressed his insecurities over whether I even cared about what he had to share. Then I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt as if we were drifting apart. I shared my desire for him to ask me about my day a second time —when I had a chance to sit and relax. The words second time gave us an idea.
Asking a second time
We decided to ask each other, “How was your day?” twice. The first time is when Brian arrives home from work. We give each other a short answer, which serves as a clue to what we need to discuss after Pascaline is in bed. If I say my day was long and tiring, Brian knows to ask why later. And I listen for the same clues from him.
At 9:30, we stop working on our checklists and meet on the couch for an hour-long date. Over coffee or tea, we ask each other a second time, “How was your day?” This time we give the full, unedited answer. We each get 30 minutes to talk, and the other person listens without interrupting.
Connection Times While Raising Kids
This has brought many wonderful times of “connection” most every night. It’s sure worth a try, if you and your spouse are lacking in being able to find times to talk to each other in meaningful ways. The author goes on to make the following point that you may find true for you too, when you make intentional times to spend with your spouse. You may have some “interruptions” but even so:
I know if I’m not able to connect with Brian when he first gets home, I can wait until our 9:30 date on the couch. It gives us more freedom to be present with Pascaline before her bedtime. It also gives us each time to do our own thing before we meet on the couch. While I love my 30 minutes of uninterrupted talking the most, I think the best part for Brian is that when we get in bed and turn off the light, my mouth doesn’t turn on.
Me Ra Koh then goes on to give:
Five Steps to Reinvent Your Communication While Raising Kids:
Find a time.
Pick a time in the evening when you and your spouse can sit down after the kids have gone to sleep or when they’re busy doing homework or watching television.
Make sure you:
Create a relaxing atmosphere.
Brew coffee or make tea. Start a fire or play some quiet instrumental music to create the right atmosphere for you both to share your day.
When you sit down, ask each other the same question. It can be, “How was your day?” or “What was the best part of your day?” A little structure helps keep things on track.
Set a time limit.
Decide how much time you want to set aside to catch up with each other. Make sure you don’t go over. While in some ways it can be great to keep talking, you want to make sure you’ve both had equal time to share. A cooking timer works well. This is especially important if one spouse —or both —is a talker.
Lastly, remember, if at first (or after many, many times) you don’t succeed:
Be prepared for the first attempts to be rocky. Our first time went smoothly. The second night we argued and I marched to bed in tears. The third time started to feel familiar. Your talk time doesn’t have to happen every night, but aim for at least 3 times during the week to stay connected.
We hope this gives you a few ideas as to how you can open up some times to communicate as a couple again.
While Raising Kids:
The most important point made in the article we refer to above is to be flexible. The old saying is true: “They that are flexible will not break!” (And neither will their marriages!) The Bible says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
We hope this article will spur you on to “bear with one another in love” and to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” as you learn to be flexible with each other during this season of raising children. This season won’t last forever. We can attest to that! Our sons are now in their forties.
Steve and I don’t struggle in the same way to find time to talk to each other because that season of raising kids is behind us. When they’re in town, our grandkids may interrupt our conversations sometimes. But somehow we make it work, because it’s our privilege to do so. Making time for our kids, grandkids and each other is an important mission that we dare not neglect!
Do what you can to be flexible whenever you can, and MAKE ways to keep your communication going!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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