If you’re married and raising children together, the best thing you can do for your kids is leave . . . for the night . . . and go on a date with your spouse.
We all love our kids and want what’s best for them.
We sign them up for activities and sports, which is good.
We want them to have time with friends, which is good.
We want them to make good grades, so they will get into a good college, so they will get a good job, so they ___________________________.
We all want to fill in that blank with good things.
But if we are not careful, we might forget to do the thing our child needs most: love our spouse.
THE THING YOUR KIDS NEED MOST
Philip Cowan, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied families for decades with his wife, psychologist Carolyn Pape Cowan, Ph.D. says, “Kids whose parents’ relationship has cooled are more likely to have behavioral or academic problems than kids of happy couples. Even if you can’t see yourself going out on a date for yourselves, do it for your kids.”1
My wife and I go on a date almost every week. We take a few hours each week just for us. We work out together, see movies, have a meal, we talk, and ask each other silly questions. We have uninterrupted time to re-connect. Dating lifts our heads from the chaos of kids and work and allows us to see each other.
It really matters, but not just for us, for our kids. Carol Ummel Lindquist, Ph.D. and author says, “The irony is that a strong relationship with your spouse is one of the best things you can do for your kids. You and your spouse are modeling a good relationship, which sets your children up for better marriages themselves when they grow up.” 2
But what if you don’t have a great relationship right now? Or what if you are navigating the complicated world of step parenting and blended families?
You now have an incredible opportunity to work through the messiness and model for your kids what it looks like to fight for your relationships.
Start by making fun and connection a priority in your marriage, even when it’s hard or it seems there’s not enough time or never enough money. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just leave for a little while—without the kids—and go on a date with your spouse. It’s one of the best things you could do for your kids.
For more on creating a great marriage, check out the book Your Best Us by Ted Lowe at YourBestUs.com. Four easy to do, easy-to-understand habits for anyone who wants a better marriage. You can also read more marriage building articles at MarriedPeople.org.
1 Robinson, Holly. “Happy Parents, Happy Kids.” Parents, Jun 2009
2 Bettina, Teri. “How to save your marriage from your kids.” CNN, Jul 29, 2009.