5 Unhealthy Ways You're Putting the Kids Before Your Marriage

kid-centered family

A lot of us get married and start our families thinking, we're not going to be one of those couples. You know the kind, the couple whose lives revolve so exclusively around their kids that they might as well be business partners or siblings? But then you do have those kids, and it starts to happen.


The thing is, your children really are that important, and they have so many needs. It's just that it can be incredibly challenging to balance your parenting with your relationship, and make sure you're still nurturing each other.

"For some couples, that's the reason they got together in the first place," says sex and relationships coach Rebekah Beneteau. "Raising a family together is the main reason for their connection, and that's okay." It's when one or both of you starts to feel neglected or disconnected that you need to worry. "One of you is going to be the canary in the coalmine," Beneteau says, whether it's complaining about not having enough sex or complaining about not having enough quality time together. So here are some signs your marriage is becoming more kid-centered, and that it's leading to dissatisfaction or conflict.

1. You let the kids sleep with you all the time. "How many nights a week is your child sleeping in your bed?" Beneteau asks. And more importantly, "Are you turning down offers of intimacy because you have children sleeping with you?" Oof, painful question for co-sleepers -- believe me, I was one, too.

2. You stop going out because your kids miss you too much. "Are you choosing not to spend time as a couple because your kids don't like it when Mommy and Daddy go out?" It feels hard to disconnect from them for an evening, but trust the wisdom of countless parents: They will survive your absence for an evening every once in a while.

3. You can't even remember the last time you had a date night. Was it before your first was born? It's nice if you can get out once a week, but really, Beneteau says, there's no one-size-fits-all ideal for every couple. "It's what works for you and your schedule, but generally if one of you is complaining, then you know it's not often enough."

4. The kids leave you feeling too drained to connect with your spouse. "Are you finding yourself too tired by the end of the day to give attention to your relationship?" If you haven't already, have a frank conversation about this. Maybe you can find solutions, but at the least, you'll have a better understanding of each other.

5. You're going to bed at different times. One of you crashes while the other stays up, putting away laundry or decompressing with the T.V.

More from The Stir: 7 Sure Signs You're Headed for a Sexless Marriage

So, if you've noticed some of these signs, what can you do about it? Assuming one or both of you are not okay with having a just-for-the-kids kind of marriage, that is. Well, for starters, you'll need to be creative about finding alone time together. Maybe at this point in your lives, traditional date nights are just too challenging. "Think outside the box and see when you can steal time together as a couple," Beneteau advises. "Maybe you can you take a long lunch out together, or arrange a babysitting swap with another family."

Remember that being a happier couple will make your kids happier. "We have all these ideas about what makes a good mother, like always being available," Beneteau says. But your kids are always picking up on your moods. Beneteau says she's seen it many times -- when a couple isn't getting along, their kids become more needy and start acting up. "Instead of giving the kids more of yourselves," she suggests, "try addressing it by giving more attention to each other, and then watch how the kids change."

Do you suspect that you're headed towards an kids-first marriage? Does that worry you, or are you okay with it?


Image via © Wavebreakmedia LTD/Wavebreak Media Ltd./Corbis

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