Help! We’re Staying Married for the Kids. Is That Enough?

It’s not uncommon for married couples to drift apart and experience loneliness, particularly after having children. Maybe there’s a lack of emotional intimacy or shared activities. Either way, you’re not spending much time together anymore, and you’re starting to feel like you’re only staying in the marriage for the kids.

Humans crave intimacy and connection. During the newlywed years, we tend to have an abundance of this intimacy and closeness. But when life’s obligations begin taking over, it can start to feel like we’re drifting away from each other. We might expect to maintain the same level of closeness during seasons of parenting.

But the truth is, life can take its toll, and couples can find themselves feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. So if you’re staying married for the kids, is that enough for now? Is it even possible to restore your relationship to its former intimacy–or better?

We have good news: it’s possible. Let’s talk about how to start guiding your marriage back toward intimacy.

Consider the Reasons Why You’ve Drifted Apart

Take time to reflect on how you reached your current dynamic. What might have factored into the two of you drifting apart? Are there steps you could each take to correct what has happened and reestablish intimacy again?

Sometimes, couples drift apart simply because they’re busy and overcommitted to multiple obligations. Other times, the problem is more serious, like resentment or contempt that has festered due to unmet expectations. Whatever the case, get clear on the reasons–and have a conversation about it, if possible.

Work to Understand Each Other’s Point of View

Empathy can go a long way when a relationship has fallen on hard times. Depending on the circumstances, the two of you might benefit from taking a walk in each other’s shoes. If your relationship dynamic is painful or difficult to navigate, you might benefit from working with a licensed counselor to communicate. (This is also true when you’re discussing the state of your relationship, in general.)

Either way, if at all possible, it’s important to understand what has happened not only from your perspective, but from your spouse’s. When you both feel seen and heard, it might be easier to soften toward one another and start working toward a constructive solution.

Make More Time for One Another

If you’ve been lonely and disconnected, spending more quality time together could help to ease those feelings. Decide on a shared activity you’d like to engage in together, then make time for that. In our experience, we’ve observed that men often connect well through shared activity, which boosts their emotional connection with their wives. Sharing activities that you both enjoy should be a win-win.

Give It Time

Finally, be patient and give your marriage time to heal. With patience, nurturing, understanding, and love, you’ll be far more likely to shift your relationship in a positive direction. It’s possible to regain hope and intimacy, and to desire staying in the marriage for one another–not just your kids.

If you’re struggling to find the time to reconnect, we suggest taking a look at our book, Your Time-Starved Marriage. It’s a guide that will help you work together to carve out more one-on-one time in the midst of a busy season. Get your copy here.

Have you and your spouse ever drifted apart? If you healed your relationship, what steps did you take to grow closer again? Leave us a comment and let us know.

3 Comments

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this. We have been married for 3 years and don’t yet have kids, but we are both very busy with work. Thankfully we both work from home so we get to spend more time together than otherwise.

    Do you have any advice about what we should proactively do to protect the intimacy within our marriage to prepare for when we do have kids? Are there any behaviors we should start now?

  • Staying for the kids is a good starting place. However, if there isn’t an intentional effort to heal and come together the couple will continue to drift apart. Marriage is not static. If, you as a couple are not growing emotionally and Spiritually you will continue to grow apart. So learning what caused the drift is vital to healing the marriage. Learning to nurture the marriage is necessary for the marriage to thrive. Nurturing can be done in a couple of ways. 1. Use and be intentional practicing each other’s Love Languages. 2. Learning new skills to resolve conflict constructively. Unresolved conflict does not go away–it accumulates and pushes the couple apart emotionally and Spiritually.

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