Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Married, with a preschooler
Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Not too long ago, I was asked to speak at a gathering of parents of preschoolers. This was a really fun “assignment” – the occasion was a Special Date-Night Dinner offered by the church with childcare provided.
These young parents seemed eager to enjoy fellowship with one another, but they also exhibited a bit of surface fatigue – possibly from chasing around a preschooler?
The topic I chose to address was How to Have a Sizzling Marriage … With a Preschooler in the Next Room. Needless to say, the topic was rich with possibilities, and the hearty banter made for an enjoyable and fun-filled evening.
But what about it … IS it possible to have a sizzling marriage with a preschooler in your home? Short answer: YES!!! Let’s examine:
- To Sizzle? Light the Match! When a little one enters the family picture, dynamics change drastically! This new little being brings a sense of awe, unimaginable love and high voltage energy! It is natural and completely expected that time and energy are spent on the loving of, the caring for and the playing with this little ball of feisty fire! The marriage? It is so very important to feed it as well. Continue to court one another (flirt, laugh, be playful), to date one another (doesn’t have to be expensive … an ice cream cone, a bag of stale bread and a pond with hungry ducks, a movie with ambiance in your own home), and to talk, talk, talk with one another (on topics that are deeper than, “Your turn to change the diaper!”) Keep lighting the match daily. That’s the best way I know to keep your marriage sizzling hot!
- Secure the Foundation! Is your marriage built on “The Rock?” (“A wise man built his house on the rock … a foolish man built his house on the sand.” — Matthew 7:24, 26) When our marriages are built on the foundation laid out in the Bible, the everyday minutiae is much more tolerable and solvable. Why? When we can look at our spouses and realize that God made him/her and loves him/her, then our mission of loving our mates is easier. It is easier to trust one another, to communicate with one another and to co-parent this little ball of energy in our homes when that home is built on the solid foundation of Christ. Everyday annoyances? They will stay small because we are talking to one another on a deeper and more meaningful level. Air out the grievances and solve them; speak words of respect and love; model to your little one that your love for your mate (their Mommy or Daddy) is immense. That foundation for your little one will then grow more and more stable and steady!
- Check Your Vital Signs! Have you moved intimacy to the sidelines while you pursue this great undertaking of parenting? If so, you soon will see that that annoying minutiae of marriage has festered into something big! Instead, continue to stoke the passion and make intentional time for the couplehood! “But I’m exhausted at the end of the day!” All right then, it’s time for Plan B, Plan C or Plan D. Carve out time for intimacy by being creative, spontaneous and playful! Your heart will beat stronger, your lifeline will grow and your laughter and contentment will shine all over your home!
You see, ultimately, we begin with our mates, then grow our families and then, God willing, we will return to the Empty Nest with our mates once more! If you’ve sizzled throughout your marriage, Empty Nest will be a super adventure! And while you’re fanning the flames of romance as your toddler runs around the home with all-in energy, you can sit back and count your blessings, indeed!