Marriage with toddlers in the home can be extremely tough. Learn tips to improve your relationship from wives and moms who have been there.
Sometimes, after the kids go down, I can barely get across the family room to sit by my husband on the couch.
I make my way, tripping over the stuffed animals, blankets, and painful-to-step-on-toys that litter the room after their most recent fort-building escapades. Usually, that sends me into a frenzy of picking up piles of paw patrol pups and kicking myself for not making the kids clean up before bedtime.
So much for the couch snuggles!
By the way- for those nights we do get the couch snuggles, or even – gasp – get out on a date, I created a free list of 43 Date Night Conversation starters… you can get them at the end of this post.
It’s Easy To Lose Intimacy In Your Marriage After Kids Enter The Picture
Today I’m sharing some of my best advice with you about how to have a strong marriage when you have toddlers in the house. I’ve also invited a few other blogger friends to share a tidbit of wisdom from their experience as wives and moms.
I love hearing from others and learning how to improve our marriages during this uber crazy season of raising kids!
We have three kids, and two of them are toddlers right now (almost 2 and almost 3). So we are right in the middle of the crazy whirlwind of marriage with toddlers. Thankfully we’ve been through this before with our oldest, but there are always curveballs that come our way.
As soon as we think we have things figured out, the kids move onto the next stage. We once again have to adjust, come up with new routines, and seemingly re-invent the wheel on how to succeed at marriage and parenting.
Thankfully, the more kids you add, the easier it gets to recognize these bumps in the road. You can address them before it gets too chaotic.
That, by the way, might be the only thing that gets easier with adding more kids.
I’m kidding, kind of.
But actually, having it all figured out isn’t the most important thing. Being willing to work on it and put effort toward figuring it out, is more important.
The Best Advice On Marriage With Toddlers
The best recipe for a happy marriage thing is to let God into your relationship. We need to ask Him for wisdom, allowing Him to speak into our hearts to encourage us and correct us. When we blow it, we can run to His forgiveness and not live in condemnation.
Keep that in mind as you take in all the advice below. Ask God to reveal which, if any, of these tips warrant a deeper look in your own life.
Let Your Spouse Be Himself
This is hard because as moms we often spend more time with the kids. That can make us think we know better how to deal with them. And in many cases that may be true. But our kids need our spouse’s personality and strengths too. We need to give them space to parent and allow them to make mistakes. After all, we receive grace from God for our mistakes too.
Live In Forgiveness Towards Your Husband
We have to keep our relationships clear of any bitterness or unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is a poison that will affect your entire home, including your parenting. Your kids will sense it too. The enemy wants to keep us in unforgiveness but we don’t have to fall into that trap. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)
Keep A United Front
I got into a bad habit of occasionally second-guessing my husband in front of the kids. It really caused some issues because, for one, it caused my husband to feel disrespected in the home. Secondly, it allowed our oldest to feel like I had more power than daddy. We weren’t presenting a united front.
After nipping that in the bud, we have a much more unified front with the kids. If we have a disagreement about the kids, we try to step aside and talk quietly or discuss it later.
Commit To Staying Connected
It’s vital to spend time away with just your spouse. No kids, just him and you. You both need the break, and you have to intentionally reconnect in order to keep up with what is going on in their lives.
If you’re looking for something positive to do with your husband to reconnect, try my list of 43 Date Night Conversation Starters. It’s in my free resource library, and you can get the password at the bottom of this email!
Take Time To Get Away
Set up times to leave and let your spouse be alone with the kids. It gives you a needed break, and it allows them to parent without you observing them and critiquing them. When it’s all on them, they really can do well. Sometimes they just need the opportunity to soar.
More Of The Best Advice From Some Experienced Wives Who Have Been Through The Toddler Phase
And now I’m passing the baton to the lovely ladies below for their great words of wisdom! It came from experience, and I’ve already been encouraged by their thoughts.
Parent With God
Though it is easier said than done, when my son was in his toddler phase, I struggled to parent the “right way” when my husband and I have different personalities. I used to look at every parenting blog to search for answers when the answer was in front of me the whole time. I prayed for God to show me how to parent our son with my husband, and I realized that the struggles I was facing as a mom was because I parented in the flesh.
When I started to parent with God, I learned that seeking God first, rather than resources first, allowed me to build my relationship with Him to be the mom (and wife) God intended for me. It didn’t mean that each season of parenting struggles I faced was anything wrong with myself or family; it meant that I had to seek God in what He was trying to change in my family.
Seek the Lord
Seek the Lord. A quote from my blog post, “The Pomposity in Parenting”: “And it is pompous to think that we can do it without Him. This is a spiritual battle we are fighting for our children and grandchildren. On those days when you feel you are losing the battle, and every.day.in.between., SEEK HIM.”
Get On The Same Page
Toddlerhood is prime time for learning and acquiring new skills, which often means toddlers can become easily frustrated and upset. Potty training, communicating, and practicing fine motor skills, among others, are all huge tasks for toddlers, which means that often they are reduced to temper tantrums or crying fits when things don’t go their way. It is vital that both parents are on the same page when it comes to parenting toddlers.
If both parents are not consistent and on the same page, then the toddler will get mixed signals, which can make reaching milestones even more frustrating. It’s a good idea for parents to discuss these milestones BEFORE their child even reaches toddlerhood. They should talk about how they would teach the skills and how they would handle discipline or redirecting if the toddler is not cooperating or needs extra guidance. Doing this sets the tone for the rest of the parenting journey, and can help to reduce any frustration in the marriage.
SAY WHAT YOU SEE®
If you remember nothing else in the challenging moments, remember to SAY WHAT YOU SEE®. This is where you describe what your child or spouse is saying, doing, thinking or feeling without questions, teaching, fixing or judgment. This is a hard one to embrace because it encourages you to take the perspective of your child or spouse and think, “Why would a great person do this?” There is always a reason. Stepping into the other person’s shoes and walking around for a bit can bring a lot of perspective to the situation.
This is also the step of connection. So when your spouse interacts with your toddler in a way that you don’t like, you can say something like, “You’re really angry. I get it. He won’t clean up the toys and you can’t stand it! So you yell and threaten because you think it’s the only way to get through to him. Otherwise, you wouldn’t bother because yelling is pretty exhausting.”
Once your spouse knows that you truly get it, it is then, that he or she can start to open to your perspective. Everyone wants to feel heard and understood: It’s a basic human need. So when you take the time to dive into your spouse’s perspective and voice it (even if you don’t agree with it), it can change the whole dynamic of the conversation. It helps you step into problem-solving as a parenting team rather than two solo parents constantly working against one another.
Prioritize Uninterrupted Conversation
Prioritize uninterrupted conversation and make a plan for it to happen every day. The years when your children are small can tear you apart unexpectedly and derail the bonding needed for a healthy successful marriage. It is never too early to teach your children that the marriage relationship takes priority over their wants. So Bud and I set aside 5 minutes each day to talk when he got home from work. The kids were told to not interrupt. I saw to it that their “needs” were met before he got home and anything else they wanted could wait 5 minutes. We made a plan, set them up with some toys, just out of sight so they could play for a few minutes. If they interrupted we ignored them so they got the picture quickly.
Over the years that time has grown to 20-30 minutes. And I keep a note pad in the kitchen all day to jot down things to tell him about my day (because mom brain means I forget and the conversation is all one sided). We made it a priority, planned a way to do it and stuck with it during those toddler years. The kids are now 7 and 10 and they know not to interrupt when mom and dad sit down to talk after dad gets home. When we get up to from that spot they come in and talk too. It has helped us remain connected through those hectic sleep-deprived years.
Put God First
For first-time parents, having a toddler gives you joy but it can also exhaust the both of you physically, mentally, and emotionally. That’s why it is important that you always take the time and effort to catch up with each other. Remember that God’s design for the family is to prioritize Him, next is your spouse, and then your children. Having a separate date with your spouse and children is necessary to build up the intimacy and relationship.
Establish Parenting Goals
Establish general goals for parenting before you hit the tough times. For instance- are you both on the same page with co-sleeping, vaccines, breast or bottle feeding and potty training. Yes, you need to be flexible, but having a general consensus on your goals and values as a parent with assist when the time comes to take action! Also, be sure to find a caregiver for your kids who you both love. Participate in interviews and talk about the care person thoroughly. If you have family around, discuss with them your goals! This will be vital for date nights when your SO is around and for sanity purposes during deployments or other separations. Toddlers are hard on a marriage and so having outside support from a trusted source will do wonders for your marriage!
Thank you ladies!
If you are looking for ideas on how to take your relationship to the next level and get to know your spouse in a new way, grab my FREE list of 43 Date Night Conversation Starters. You never know what you might learn!
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