How Can Exhausted Parents Create Time for Their Relationship?

Published Apr 16, 2024
How Can Exhausted Parents Create Time for Their Relationship?

The years of being a loving couple are rewarding, even if they sacrifice much of our time. Be sure to invest in your relationship in as many ways as possible while sacrificing time, money, and other resources. Spouses who emotionally invest in their relationship may find that as the kids grow up and move away, their relationship is stronger than ever.

Parents, especially those with small children, can have difficulty making time for their spouses. Children need a lot of our physical time when they are babies because we need to care for them. When they get older, that time shifts from physical care to taking them to activities, often after a long hard day's work. Parents frequently come home exhausted after a long day, unable to spend the quality time they need. When parents go too long without time, they can find themselves exhausted, finding that they are emotionally and physically distant from each other.

But there's hope. Parents can find time to invest in their relationship. Here are some ways how to do that:

Small Moments Matter

When people start dating, they often dedicate an evening or even a whole weekend to each other. However, that simply may not be possible with young (or even older) children. However, make the small moments count. Spend up to half an hour together eating dinner alone. Feed the kids, then send them off to do an age-appropriate activity. Have dinner alone and discuss your day. Debrief about how things are going. Don't lose sight of emotions and little things that may be getting bottled up and need to be discussed. Often, idle chitchat such as, "How was your day?" leads to bigger discussions about important aspects of the relationship that need to be healed. If dinner is not an option, have dessert in bed or together on the couch after the kids go to bed. Turn the television off and seek to focus on each other. Because it's easy to want to turn the TV on and vegetate, avoiding taking the time is easy. However, when we take the time to shut off our phones and screens, we will find we have more time than we once believed we did.

Happy couple parents kissing with son

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/SrdjanPav

Hire a Sitter

Although hiring a babysitter may financially strain a young parent's budget, it's vital to keep the marriage strong. Enlist the help of parents or grandparents if necessary to help watch the children. Seek to have a night out at least once a month. Even if spouses can't afford a big night out, get ice cream, get your favorite take-out, or simply take a walk. The time spent together is more important than what the activity is.

Seek to designate a small portion of the paycheck each week (or month) toward hiring a sitter. Set that money aside in a jar or an envelope. Strive not to spend it. Use that money as an investment in the marriage and in the future. This will give parents something to look forward to and give their relationship the emotional investment it requires.

Put God First

For Christians, we seek to put God first. However, it's easy to crowd God out in our overpacked world. We often see time together for simply doing an activity or something fun. While this may be true, the most essential thing that needs to happen is to pray together. A couple that prays together is more than likely to stay together. Don't dismiss the power of prayer. Ask each other what they could be praying for each other. This will help keep the lines of communication open and let each spouse know they are important to the other. It is easy for one spouse to talk about their day but not take the time to invest in the other. Prayer becomes more about other people than it does about themselves. Ask God to be the center of their relationship and to make time for each other with God as often as possible.

Make Chores Fun

Happy couple family parents in kitchen with baby kissing

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund

Another aspect of being a parent is owning a home. Although it's exciting to own a home, it is also important that they complete household chores. This may come at the end of an already over-packed week. Exhausted parents seek to prioritize these chores because they seem the most important. However, as kids get older and leave the home, it won't be the amount of laundry folded or the number of dishes that got washed. The most important thing that will be remembered is how much time was spent together. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink and keep the laundry in the dryer for one more day. Invest the time to merely sit and talk and not be distracted by screens or other things that may take away from being present in the moment with your spouse.

Resolve Arguments

Sometimes, parents don't want to invest time in each other because of conflict. Different personalities may clash when both parties handle conflict differently. Some people like to sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn't exist. Others explode, dealing with the conflict head-on. It is important to deal with the conflict directly and nip it in the bud. When anger and resentment go unchecked, it can be the nail in the coffin of a marriage. Make sure there is no residual anger or arguments between the two of you. If there is, sacrifice some time and seek to resolve the conflict. It is necessary not only for your health but also for the health of your marriage.

Speak the Love Language

Don't discount your spouse's love language. According to Doctor Gary Chapman, the five love languages are acts of service, quality time, gifts, physical affection, and words of affirmation. Be sure to discover which love language your spouse speaks the most. Seek to speak that language to them each day. Even if time is limited, take a few small moments out of the day to speak that love language. Perhaps it's a text saying how much you love your spouse. Maybe it's a bouquet of flowers purchased at the store before coming home from work. No matter how you choose to show this love language, be sure to speak it daily. Do so with no strings attached. No spouse likes to feel as if they need to reciprocate that love language. They want to feel loved and appreciated simply for being who they are, not for what they can do for you. When both parties seek to speak each other's love language and carve out little moments throughout the day to show each other they love each other, it will be easier for them to carve out time to emotionally invest in their relationship.

For spouses with kids, balancing quality time with work is difficult. However, the years of being a loving couple are rewarding even if they sacrifice much of our time. Be sure to invest in your relationship in as many ways as possible while sacrificing time, money, and other resources. Spouses who emotionally invest in their relationship may find that as the kids grow up and move away, their relationship is stronger than ever. When they take the time to invest while the kids are still at home, they set a good example for the kids in understanding that their spouse and their relationship come first; a healthy marriage is the key to good parenting.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Antonio_Diaz

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website