Marriage requires a serious amount of work, communication and time.
Of course, when you throw kids into the mix, things can get a whole lot more complicated.
YOU spoke to Durban-based counselling psychologist, Rakhi Beekrum, about how to manage the juggling act of being both spouse and parent.
“It is quite a tough to balance careers, parental responsibilities, household duties and your marital relationship, without feeling overwhelmed,” she adding that this can be particularly tricky when there are young kids involved.
“Besides balancing the time, sharing responsibility is a significant issue. Traditionally, childcare was the domain of the mother, but with both parents working in most households, it is not only fair for both parents to take responsibility for child-rearing, but it is also beneficial to the children.
"Young children are both energetic and require more help than older children. This leaves the couple with less time for themselves and each other. If either parent feels burnt out, they have less physical and emotional energy for the children.
"Resentment sets in when one parent feels that they do more or feel unappreciated,” she says.
Rakhi stresses that communication in a calm and mature fashion is the only way to raise issues.
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“Speaking calmly about your feelings will help your partner understand your point of view.
"For example, say 'I feel resentful when I'm rushing to prepare dinner while helping the kids with homework, while you're relaxing in front of the television. It would be a great help if you assisted the kids with homework, while I prepared dinner. And when that's done, we can both relax together'."
"It is important to work as a team and problem-solve together.”
Advice from friends, family and colleagues about how to raise your children is always good, she says, but establishing your own style as parents is also something that is vital in ensuring a happier and healthier home.
“We typically learn parenting styles from our own parents, but this can be harmful when we are influenced by stereotypes – for example, gender stereotypes.
Establish rules and be consistent with discipline, she advises, as this is one of the major sources of conflict for parents.
Although team work is a major factor in ensuring that any relationship is a successful one, Rakhi also agrees that putting aside some time for “me-time” is essential in order to be fulfilled personally.
“Take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Do not neglect our own needs in the process of being a parent,” she says.
Here are some of her top tips:
- Agree on household and parental responsibilities.
- Try to help each other out where you can
- Use available resources – perhaps parents or a babysitter to assist at times
- Agree on discipline and consequences of negative behaviour.
- Besides family time, make time for the two of you as a couple.
- When children enter the frame, all attention is focused on them, which means there's less focus on the marriage. Make time for each other – even something as simple as waking up 10 minutes earlier to enjoy a cup of coffee alone together can make a difference. Date nights are usually a good idea, but should not become just another part of the routine. Rather, plan something fun and exciting.
- Do not talk about the children on date night – this is your couple time. Go to bed together every night.
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