As a marriage therapist I am seeing a growing trend with my couples that I am beginning to call the “black hole of marriage.” What is the black hole of marriage you ask? It is the hole that couples get sucked into when they are in the midst of raising young kids. What seems to happen is these couples have wonderful intentions about raising the family together but work, kids, activities, and just life in general gets in the way. During this busy time in life I am seeing couple after couple putting their relationship on the back burner as they try to manage everything else in their lives.
But what happens to the marriage during this time? The relationship begins to fizzle and all to often by the time couples come to see me (several years into the “black hole”) they feel like “two strangers living in the same house.” As often as I see this it still makes me sad every time! It makes me sad for two reasons, first, this couple who was so in love and had such great intentions of working together as partners has grown so far apart they are both feeling alone and isolated. The second reason is that this is completely preventable!
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that it can be difficult to make your marriage a priority in our busy, faced paced culture. My husband and I have two young kids of our own and often feel pulled in a million directions at once. It’s not always easy, but it is doable and it is important!
Here are three things you can start doing today to make your marriage a priority:
1. When you both get home at the end of the day take the first 5 minutes for the two of you. This is usually a busy time of the day with dinner, homework, etc. But it is so important to come back together as a couple an reconnect for a few minutes. Kiss each other hello and talk about how your day was…then jump back into the chaos.
2. Take 20 minutes a day to talk more in depth and connect on a deeper level. For some couples this can be first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee, after the kids are in bed for the night, or before you go to bed yourselves. The key is to have dedicated, uninterrupted time to talk and connect intimately.
3. Date night…do I really need to say more? Taking time out for regular dates is hugely important for couples. It is a chance for you to reconnect and have fun together without the stresses of everyday life. I encourage couples to do date night once or twice a month (minimum). If you feel like it is too expensive try to find a friend to swap babysitting with and/or plan dates in. The key is to take time to have fun together.
If you find you are struggling in your marriage please give me a call. I would love to help you figure out how to get out of the “black hole.”