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Love your kids? Love your husband!

Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban concrete jungle of NYC. She writes Kids in the City Kids in the City a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance, contributes to SheKnows, Time Out NY Kids Time Out N...

The love hierarchy

Once you become a mother, you’re supposed to sublimate your needs and fully embrace this role -- often to the detriment of your marriage. Alisa Bowman suggests that, if you care about the well being of your children, you do everything possible to nurture your marriage. Here are some easy ways to put your marriage first.

Happy parents = happy kids


According to Bowman, kids thrive in a healthy home environment. Happily married couples are better able to model good communication skills, too -- and these are skills that we all want our kids to learn. Happily married couples are healthier physically and have more energy, so they are better able to do fun things as a family. Happily married couples are also more aligned in their parenting, so kids are less able to pit one parent against the other. Says Bowman:

"I'll give you an example. I have a daughter, and there are some difficult discussions that work best if my husband tackles them. For instance, when she's a tween, I want him to be the one who tells her about boys and sex and what not. She will trust that information more from her father. Since we have a good marriage, I can feel comfortable asking my husband to do this -- and talking with him about the best way to have this discussion with her.

"My husband and I see ourselves as a team. Because of that, we strategize together. If I did not nurture my marriage, my husband and I would be more separate. I might not feel comfortable talking with him about this. I might even be competitive with him, trying to get our daughter to love me more. Then I would have the discussion with her, even though that is not best for her."

4 Ways to put your marriage first

Once a month or so, think about the state of your marriage. Mentally rank your marital happiness on a scale of 1 to 10. If you feel disconnected with your husband or realize that things are not as good as they should be, make an effort to work on your relationship.

It doesn't have to be time consuming to prioritize your marriage. Often, it's as simple as taking a few minutes each evening to connect.

  1. Spend 10 minutes every evening sitting closely (or cuddling).
  2. Connect once a day about how you are both doing.
  3. Do something that makes your spouse feel good at least once a day. This can be as simple as a random hug or compliment.
  4. Keep the household hierarchy straight. Allow your kids to see Mom and Dad hugging and being playful together; it's good for them to see that. Encourage your kids to play independently, and enjoy time together as a couple as they do so. Enlist your kids to do chores around the house, so you both have less on your plate and more time to spend together. Resist the urge to helicopter parent. Continually ask yourself, "Do my kids really need me right now? Or do I want my kids to need me right now?"

    More couple time ideas:

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