Keeping the Romance after Kids

When I was pregnant, everyone around kept telling us how our lives were going to dramatically change when the baby arrived and warned us about our relationship as husband and wife not being the same again. But there was  a wise woman who said these words that I kept it close to heart and have tried to live accordingly. She said “You and your husband are a family already and the baby will be joining your family.” Sure, our lives changed and we had crazy days in the beginning but we had decided way before that we were going to put our marriage first.

I recently read some pointers from Date Night in a Minivan: Revving Up Your Marriage After Kids Arrive,of how to keep the romance alive after kids and wanted to share these with you as it has worked in our marriage.

  1. Find common ground among your discipline styles. Clashing ways of disciplining your children will cause lots of tension between you and your spouse. So let down your defenses and seek to understand each other’s approaches. Talk about what each of your parents did well and what mistakes they made. Recognize that you and your spouse each have the same goal: to train your kids to think and behave in healthy ways. Rather than fighting against each other, remember that you’re on the same team and do all you can to support each other to work toward your common goal. Avoid criticism. Instead, ask for your spouse’s suggestions when facing a discipline problem. Try to learn from each other.
  2. Give each other time off. A powerful way to nourish your marriage is to give each other time away from the demands of childcare on a regular basis. Take turns scheduling break times when one of you can take the kids and the other can pursue some personal enjoyment on an evening or weekend day. Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind about this; talk to him or her about what specific ways you want to get out, and when. Then plan for it!
  3. Moms, give dads the chance to fully participate in parenting. If you’re a stay-at-home mom who spends more time with the kids than your spouse does, be careful not to assume that your way of handling parenting is the best or only way. Whenever your spouse is available, give him opportunities to fully engage with the kids, and the freedom to parent the way he wants to — without criticizing him, nagging him, instructing him, or re-doing what he does because you don’t like the way he does it. Give your spouse the time and space he needs to learn, just as you have had yourself. Accept your spouse’s different parenting style. Notice what he does particularly well as a parent, and compliment him on that. Let him know that you appreciate him as a dad.
  4. Divide household responsibilities fairly. Figuring out who will do what chores around the house will help you and your spouse avoid power struggles that damage your marriage. Don’t keep score about which one of you is working harder at any given time. Remember that you both work hard to contribute to your family in different ways. Show respect and appreciation to each other for all of your efforts. Think about how you can serve each other rather than worrying about how you’re being served. Take a hard look at your expectations of each other’s household loads to consider whether or not they’re realistic. Sit down together to make a list of all the chores that need to get done. Discuss what’s most important to each of you, what you’re each good at doing, and what you each dislike doing. Then assign each other the chores that best fit. Don’t nag; instead, encourage each other’s efforts.
  5. Build healthy relationships with your parents and in-laws. Do all you can to try to have positive relationships with your parents and in-laws. Set boundaries and ground rules for respect. Seek forgiveness and reconciliation for times you’ve hurt each other in the past. Work with your spouse to present a united front when communicating with them. Talk about stressful issues calmly yet firmly. Adjust your expectations to reflect the reality of who they really are — not just who you’d like them to be. Defuse negative comments with a positive attitude and humor.
  6. Mesh your social styles well. If you’re an extrovert and your husband is an introvert — or vice versa — work on discovering how your personalities can complement each other, and how you can have fun together. Get to know what motivates both you and your spouse, and why. Don’t push your spouse to do something that makes him or her uncomfortable, like making small talk at a crowded party for an introvert or sitting on a lake fishing all day for an extrovert. Be creative about finding activities you can both enjoy together. Purposefully try to make each other feel loved and cared for.
  7. Manage money wisely. Financial stress can erode romance quickly. Figure out what emotions like beneath the money issues between you and your spouse. Seek to understand what you each truly value, and why. Discuss how your parents viewed money and what they taught you about it growing up. Talk about your goals for saving, spending, giving, and investing. If you don’t already have a household budget, set one up. Split any leftover money between you, giving you each the right to spend it however you like. Take turns balancing your checkbook, and keep each other fully informed about the state of your finances. When dealing with disagreements over money, be humble and willing to genuinely listen to each other’s perspective. If you’re in debt, make a specific plan right away for how to pay it off. Choose a future project you’re both excited about saving for — such as a vacation, or a new kitchen — and let your shared excitement motivate you to manage all your money wisely as you save for it.
  8. Plan your family well. If one of you wants more kids than the other one does, trying to pressure the one who doesn’t want more to go ahead anyway will cause great damage to your marriage. Recognize the spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, and financial responsibility of increasing your family’s size. Expect that each new child added to your family will take away time, energy, and money from existing family members. Trust that, if God truly wants you and your spouse to have another baby, He’ll make it clear to both of you in His timing. Give each other the time and space you need to thoroughly think and pray about the decision. Listen to each other’s concerns without getting defensive. Find another couple who has wrestled with the same issue, and see what you can learn from them. Don’t make a decision one way or the other until both of you have peace about it.
  9. Improve your sex life. Even if you’re feeling too tired from parenting demands to think about sex, make it a priority. Realize that great sex can actually energize you by relieving stress in your marriage relationship. Schedule times for sex to enhance your bond with your spouse. Instead of waiting for your spouse to make the first move, decide to be proactive about romance yourself: Cook your spouse’s favorite meal, write a love note and leave it in his or her car, etc. Consider what activities you and your spouse found romantic before you had kids — from going to a live concert to playing miniature golf — and try those same activities again whenever you can. Turn your bedroom into a romantic zone by removing all toys and other reminders of your kids and adding some romantic items, like candles or silk pillows. Make a habit of flirting with your spouse. Don’t hesitate to discuss the specifics of what you’d like in your sexual relationship.
  10. Show caring. Put your relationship with your spouse first, and your kids second. Do little things to help each other on a regular basis, like emptying the dishwasher or playing a game your spouse loves but you don’t like. Give each other time to pursue your individual interests. Compliment each other. Get away together on dates when you can, and use the time to do something you both enjoy. Give each other gifts. Remember that, as hard as it is to squeeze in romance during this season of heavy parenting demands, it’s worthwhile to build your relationship now so you’ll have a great marriage later on when the kids leave home and it’s just the two of you.

Have fun together!

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Ways to Inspire Your Children

Growing up in an Armenian family, I didn’t see much of praise giving from parents to their children nor did I see and form of affection between my parents and those of others. As I grow older, I realize how important it is for the child to know and see that his/her parents love each another. Another thing I’ve noticed within our Armenian families is that so often parents don’t praise their children thinking they will spoil them without realizing that the world around them mostly tries to tear them down and what we need to do as parents is build up our children so that they can handle the real world courageously. I also don’t appreciate the guilt and fear drivin motivation in our culture and I want to shine a light on that hoping that parents will realize it and change their parenting style.Sometimes I wish my parents told me that they love me and are proud of me but that’s not their style. I want to do things differently.

Here are some of the ways I believe we can inspire our children and raise them to be wholesome:

  1. Give children age appropriate responsibilities teaching them to care for the things God gives us.
  2. Each child is individual; pray that God will help you in developing that individual character.
  3. Listen to how your children speak, and encourage them to choose words wisely at school and at home. It’s important to teach them to bridle their tongue.
  4. Never forget to tell your children you’re proud of them. Don’t assume that they already know how you feel.
  5. Bible reading is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family. Make it a routine in your home
  6. Visit relatives often to show children the value of relationships.
  7. Bring your children to church and help them seek out ways to get involved.
  8. Be an example to your children of one who loves her neighbor as herself through random acts of kindness. Lend a helping hand to a busy neighbor, or take time out of a busy day to simply say hello.
  9. Laughter is medicine for the soul ~ laugh often with your children.
  10. Don’t just tell your children that you love them ~ tell them what you love about them.
  11. Encourage praise reports and prayer requests on a regular basis.
  12. Be an example to your children in the way that you love and honor your husband.
    Enlighten your children to the world around them by supporting missions and teaching them that there is a world both hungry for food and hungry for God. Pray that they will have a heart for missions.
  13. Take opportunities to hug your children often, to hold their hands, or to rest an assuring hand on their shoulder.
  14.  Show your children that you appreciate them by doing something special just for them, like making their favorite meal, or taking them out for an ice cream.

Don’t bad mouth your kids in front of others and don’t confuse discipline with punishment. The word discipline comes from the word disciple and it means to teach!

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El

5 Ways to Resist Temptation

I’m very big on protecting your marriage. If you value something, shouldn’t you take the best care of it?

I especially like studying boundaries because it helps us keep in check. When we are careful it does not mean  we are assuming or accusing. It simply means we are protecting and its a two way street.

Today’s Time Wrap blog really caught my eye and I agree with her sentiments and find it very helpful.

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The other day I got to talking to a married friend and young mother who told me that she was recently approached by an ex-boyfriend who wrote her a heart-felt letter. If that isn’t temptation wrapped in a bow and handed to her on a silver platter, I don’t know what is. But I do know that this happens more often than women are willing to admit. Social networking has opened the door to behind-the-scenes communication and easy access to temptation unlike anything we’ve seen before.

She isn’t the only woman who recently told me this. The next day I heard a similar story–the names were changed, but the details and the storm of emotions she felt resembled that of the other. Satan knows our weak spot and too often it’s found in matters of the heart.

The initial temptation is an external one, but the lies we start to tell ourselves are internal, and that’s why we need to protect our thoughts before they become action that we live to regret.

5 Ways to Resist Temptation

  1. Recognize sin when you see it lurking. Don’t toy with it.
  2. Flee temptation as soon as you realize that you are being drawn away.
  3. Study the Bible regularly so that you are equipped to destroy the lies with truth.
  4. Pray asking God to take the temptation away, and if possible confide in friend who will lift you up in prayer and keep you accountable.
  5. Keep a safe distance between you and those things or people that you view as a potential temptation. Or if you must keep them close as in the case of a working relationship, keep your communication out in the open.

For the complete blog, visit http://time-warp-wife.blogspot.com/2012/05/5-ways-to-resist-temptation.html

El