Can too much focus on the children hurt a marriage? According to Patrick and Ruth Schwenk, the answer is a huge “Yes!” In their new book, For Better or for Kids, they share their own issues raising 4 kids and how it changed their marriage in ways they never dreamed possible.
Having a child-centered relationship can cause spouses to neglect each other’s needs, they warn, leading to significant problems that often lead to tremendous marital strife and eventual divorce. Do any of these common complaints sound familiar?
- Loss of intimacy
- Romance cools or stops completely
- Unresolved conflicts
- Infrequent or non-existent communication
- Fights over money
- Lack of attention and affection
- Child’s needs/wants are paramount
Seriously, what couple can’t relate to most—all?—of those! What starts out as newlywed bless seems to become almost like platonic roommates once little people are added to the mix. While I certainly believe marriage is important and couples need time alone together, I think it’s almost impossible for the focus to remain solely on the husband and wife. Most of us, if we’re honest, would admit that we love our child more than our spouse and that can cause a lot of tension…
I do like some of their suggestions like scheduling regular Date Nights, parenting together as a team, having open communication without finger pointing, and making sure every member of the family feels valued and heard.
Another great point is not allowing the children to divide and conquer. Parents should maintain a united front and not allow any manipulation. (Easier said than done, of course, but important to remember.)
Overall, I think a child-centered marriage isn’t ideal, but it is the norm—especially in the Jewish community. By recognizing and admitting it, both husband and wife can do things for each other, and as a couple, to strength their bond and keep it strong and healthy. (Notice I didn’t say perfect. We all know there’s no such thing as a “perfect” marriage!)