So I want you to begin a new tradition that invests in your marriage and creates proper boundaries—don’t discount this. If you’re a single parent, you can simply do this alone. I’m going to dramatize this, but here’s what it sounds like. I’d love for Dad to come home and say this to his kids, “Kids, I love my time with you. I love playing and building with Legos and having fun with you. But I cherish my time with my wife. So one night a week I am going to light a candle in the kitchen (great visual they will always remember). When that candle is lit, it means that I am having dinner alone with my wife. And you two are not invited.”
Now, you didn’t say they were irritating little snots. You just said they weren’t invited. Why? Because one night a week, your wife wants your undivided attention and to talk to an adult! It is amazing modeling for your kids. What it says is that the world does NOT revolve around them, and that the marriage relationship is primary—not secondary. We’ve had so many parents admit, “When we did your Calm Couples Marriage program, our kids really noticed the difference.” Of course they do.
You are modeling how to be connected. And you are giving your wife a break from having to manage your emotions at the dinner table when the kids don’t sit perfectly still or eat everything on their plate or use their utensils correctly.
Tell the kids this in a firm, even, matter-of-fact tone. “You will not come near the kitchen. You will not make a peep during this time. Because if you interrupt my time with my wife, you will rue the day you did that. Because I will march into your bedrooms on Saturday morning at 5:30am banging pots and pans if you do.”
And the tone is this, “Don’t mess with me.” Why? Because sometimes modern parents are too wishy-washy with their kids. “Sweetie, you know it’s really important for Mommy and Daddy to have time together…” No. Just tell them firmly. This is my time alone with my wife. Don’t mess with it.
And yeah, if you want to put the kids in front of the TV for thirty minutes while you have dinner alone, then do it. “Oh, but I’ll never use TV as a babysitter,” you say. Really? I will! Even 30 minutes of Jerry Springer won’t ruin your kids for life—in fact, it will make them grateful they are growing up in your home, which assures they will never be featured on that show! Just kidding. But relax.
Now here’s why it’s only 30 minutes. Because it’s going to be uncomfortable at first. Because you’re not allowed to discuss the kids. And you haven’t had a good discussion with your spouse in years, since before you had kids! So it’s going to sound like this. “So, some crazy weather we’ve been having lately, huh, honey?!”
Begin investing in your marriage and the feelings WILL come back. Do the things you did when you were dating. Leave a Hershey kiss on the car, write a flirty note and put it in her purse, send flowers, sneak away from the office at lunch time or even meet at a hotel. Seriously. Begin having fun together. It WILL change your family. And if you want help with this, check out our Valentine’s Day Special. It’s sweeter than chocolate. 🙂