Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing: Marriage and Kids—The Practical Side
It may sound so simple to “keep the main thing the main thing,” but oftentimes it is not. As the new year begins, we have a valuable opportunity to examine our lives and schedules and ask ourselves if the main thing [we want] is really the main thing. The truth is that each one of us has something that consumes most of our time, money and energy. The question becomes are we happy with the way our lives are prioritized or do some changes need to take place.
For this piece, I want to talk specifically about marriage or partnership, and children and priorities. However, even if you are not married, in a serious relationship, nor do you have children, I hope you can glean some morsels of wisdom from this blog about living intentionally and putting first things first.
Now, to the parents. Whether you are married or in a committed relationship, this part is for you. In this day and age, children are honored and celebrated as valuable, bundles of joy gifted to us to guide, nurture and teach. Children are important members of society—however tiny—we love and shelter, believing each one is destined for greatness. However, not too many years ago, children were to be “seen and not heard” and were even sent to work in factories 6-7 days a week for anywhere from 8-16 hours per day (before child labor laws were passed). While I much prefer and agree with the way society views and cares for children nowadays, I do believe we all have the tendency to put our kids center stage while our romantic relationships take a back seat. This should not be so.
When it comes to family life, our priorities can get jumbled for a variety of reasons which may result in us putting too much attention on our children and neglecting our adult relationships—specifically our partners/spouses, but family and friends too. There are many reasons our priorities get out of whack, but here are a few. First, there are newborns. Oh my! Newborns deserve and demand an inordinate amount of attention. Also, there are children who are chronically sick or born with a disability and require a vast amount of love and affection (and rightfully so). Then as children grow there is school, friendships and playdates, extra-curricular activities (lots of taxiing) and the teenage years which require tremendous amounts of emotional energy. There is no easy stage of parenthood.
The point is, raising children is both wonderful and challenging. I often say that being a mother “is both the most wonderful and the hardest thing I have ever done/will do.” So for now, I would like you to take a look at your daily, weekly and monthly schedule. See how you spend most of your time each day. Is there any time just for you? How about any time with your partner? Don’t panic! Most of us spend the majority of our time working and/or caring for children. I just want you to mindfully take account of your schedule and ask yourself if you like the way things are going.
Also, maybe make a list of the top 3-4 things that consume most of your time. Then think about the list. Are your priorities where you want them to be? Are you caring for a sick or disabled child and need extra help figuring out ways to find respite—alone and with your partner? Are you a single parent? What unique challenges are you facing? Maybe you would like to spend some time thinking about how you would better like to spend your time—if that makes sense. This is a great place to start. I will share more tips about how to navigate maintaining a healthy marriage/relationship while raising kids in the personal blog on this piece. For now, if you are struggling in your relationship or with your children, an Orlando psychotherapist can help you. Life Enhancement Counseling Services offers individual, couples, family, adolescent and child counseling services. Please call 407-443-8862 today to schedule an appointment.