This article first appeared in the July 2005 issue of Smart Parenting magazine
Think you can’t be a great parent and a great spouse at the same time? Think again, because those same parenting skills you already have may just be the same ones you need to perk up your married life.
1. Go with the flow “You have to accept that there are things you cannot change, like the differences in intelligence and personality of your children,” says Randy Cabahug, core group member of the Education for the Upbringing of Children (Educhild) Foundation Cebu Area. “So you have to adjust and try to see things from their point of view. The same with your spouse.” Similarly, Dina Therese Ceniza, childbirth educator and mom of seven kids, shares, “You talk to your kids on the same level they are in. [Keep in mind that] your spouse…may not see things the same way you do or use the same terms….”
2. Hold it Remember those times your child did something he wasn’t supposed to, like not submit a school project on time? Well, you don’t lash out, wave your finger, and ground him right there and then. You tell your child to explain and you listen, even though you really want to butt in. Cabahug says, “You extend the same kind of patience to your spouse. Let your husband finish what he has to say. Bite your tongue when you want to butt in.” Husbands, of course, should extend the same courtesy to their wives.
3. Get one on one Go out on one-and-one dates with your kids at least once a month to get to know them, spend quality time with them, and make them feel special. This is what parenting authorities recommend. But don’t forget to go out on a date with your mate, too. Pediatrician and mom of four Jaja Reveldez says, “My husband and I work in the same place. We try to have lunch together whenever our schedule permits. When we are really busy we really have to schedule our dates but we make sure we go out alone at least twice a month.”
4. Be his no.1 fan Former preschool educator turned work-at-home-mom Ceniza says, “You cheer your kids and give them hugs and kisses to encourage their endeavors and acknowledge their efforts. Even when they lose a game or their artwork isn’t that great you tell them they did a wonderful job. And you mean it. You become their greatest fan. With your spouse, you also need to have tangible support for his decisions, his endeavors, and his efforts.”
5. Become best buddies Parenting experts always advise you to befriend your children. Find out what they like, what their interests are, who their friends are, what peeves them. By being their pal, your kids will not only love you more, but like you and like hanging out with you. Well, it works with your spouse, too. More so when you’re each other’s best friend. Genuinely want to know how your spouse’s day went and listen. Hold off any judgments until your opinion is asked for. You’ll have more enjoyable conversations that won’t always be centered on the household and your children.
6. Show it, say it Children need to feel and know they are loved. The best ways to say “I love you” are usually in simple, everyday, seemingly unimportant ways. So we show our love to our kids by reading stories to them, tucking them in at night, cooking their favorite meal, giving them a bath, leaving handwritten notes in their lunchboxes. Sheri and Bob Stritof, a longtime, happily married American couple who give workshops and lectures dealing with marriage issues and authors of The Everything Great Marriage Book, say, “Make sure you say ‘I Love You’ at least once each day to your spouse. Give your mate an unexpected hug, a surprisingly romantic kiss. Be spontaneous and surprising with unexpected notes, winking at each other, whisking your spouse away for an unexpected weekend alone, stargazing together. Give the gift of your time by performing trivial chores for your spouse, such as running an errand, washing the car, etc. Don’t forget anniversaries and birthdays. Blow a kiss from across the room. Dance with your spouse in your own living room. Hold hands.”
7. Tickle his funny bone When you want to tell your son it’s time to take a bath but he’s engrossed with his LEGOs, you don’t just order him to the bathroom. You come up with light, funny ways to get him to do so. Reveldez says, “Humor helps to bring (up) sensitive things in a light manner. And so humor is necessary not just in parenting, but also in a marriage. It makes everything more fun to deal with.” So crack jokes, tickle your spouse, watch a comedy, or simply have a good laugh. It indeed is the best medicine there is.