You have planned a weekend especially for the kids filled with fun activities that you are looking forward to, but your husband seems resentful, disinterested or upset without any apparent trigger. If this sounds familiar to you, there is a good chance that your husband might be jealous of all the attention that you are showering on your children.
International marriage expert Erin Smalley a woman’s marriage should come first, above her children.
“This may sound contrary to what we believe is best for a child, but the best thing we can do for our children is to have a great marriage,” says Erin.
Read more: 5 secrets to raising happy children
You express your affection towards each member of the family differently. When you ‘mother’ your children, you may appear warmer and more concerned about them than when you interact with your spouse. He could interpret this behaviour negatively and feel unloved as a result. Avoid hurting him and send the message to your children that their father is the top of your priorities.
Care for your children as a team
Child rearing can take up a lot of your time. For this reason, many women struggle to set aside time that they can devote 100 per cent of their attention to their husbands.
Erin suggests that you and your husband work out a team strategy to tackle child care responsibilities. If you are the one doing all the child minding, you will not have enough time for him.
Divide the work in a practical way such that you support different functions. For example, you can be in charge of meal preparation while he takes charge of getting them ready for school in the morning.
The idea is that both of you have a shared amount of energy and time devoted to taking care of the children allowing you to have a separate reserve of energy and time specifically for your husband.
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The breakdown of time does not have to be 50:50, says Erin. What matters is that you signal to your husband that the attention that you give him will not be compromised even during busy periods in the school year or when your children demand a lot of your energy.
“Similarly, the message that never changes to the children is that ‘our marriage is most important’,” says Erin. They do not get to demand things of you until the needs of your husband are met.
Set aside ‘mommy and daddy’ time
One way to show your children that their dad is your priority is to designate time for the both of you to be alone.
“Have a set bedtime for them,” says Erin. “Make it clear that once they are in bed, they should not disrupt mommy and daddy’s exclusive time together.” During this time, you can share meaningful conversations with your husband that you otherwise would not talk about when the kids are present.
Show your love
Always speak highly of your husband in front of the kids. Never complain about his behaviour or criticise him when they are around.
Demonstrate your love and affection for your spouse to them. Hugs and kisses may gross the kids out, but they validate your husband and also serve as a signal to your children that he is the most important.
Affirm your husband at least once a day. Erin says, “Men long for their wives to recognise what they are doing in their careers and at home, and to affirm their efforts and character.”
Remove other distractions
“A common phenomenon that we observe between couples these days is ‘phubbing’, or phone snubbing,” Erin says. When you are together, you or your partner may spend most of the time looking down at your smart devices.
This can make the other party feel as though you aren’t interested in what they have to say. It sends the message that someone or something else on the phone or tablet is more important than them.
Make a commitment to set aside your smart phones during precious time together, particularly if you have prearranged it, such as on date night.
If you think your spouse is always glued to his electronics, Erin encourages you to initiate conversation more. Show him that you are interested in his life, and that you are more interesting than his screen.