Marriage is hard work. The arrival of children will make it even harder. Many parents are not prepared for the new realities. They never expected the toll that sleep deprivation, stress and exhaustion could take on their emotions and the relationship. Teamwork is the only solution. There are four basic ingredients.
- Trust is the Foundation.
- Establish Roles and Responsibilities.
- Be Accountable.
- Maintain a United Front.
Trust is not just about fidelity. It also means placing confidence and respect on your spouse’s character, abilities and commitment without fear of being betrayed. To trust and be trusted reflects a fundamental human need to feel safe in a relationship.
Divide the household chores, including child minding. Discuss spending habits and apportion the income, particularly if yours is a dual-income family, then decide on who pays for what and how goes the budget. Finances are a major cause of rifts in a marriage. When both of you have established your roles, honour them by carrying out your respective responsibilities. However, don’t limit yourself. Disruptions can upset routines and previously agreed tasks. If one spouse is being overburdened, jump in to help. Likewise, ask for help when you need it. Sharing, after all, is caring.
Being accountable means you’ll admit to difficulties and weaknesses and work together to find different routes to success. No one is infallible. Admitting to mistakes and being willing to move past them with proactive solutions is what accountability is all about.
Do not undermine each other’s authority, even if you don’t agree. Do not compete for your child’s affections as it might confuse him or teach him to question you, or that he can manipulate one parent against the other. Seeing you two as a team working together in his best interest will provide him with the basis to feel safe and loved.
- According to Finnish media, Finland’s minister for culture and sports, Stefan Wallin has a message for men: “The more the fathers take responsibility for things at home, the less divorces you have,” he said. “There’s a direct correlation. It is, of course, also about respecting each other and trying to make life easier for each other.”
- Research says that children who help their dads do household chores are more likely to be well adjusted and more socially aware of democratic family values and co-operation.
How to Instil Values in Your Children through Leading by Example
“There is nothing more influential, more determinant in a child’s life than the moral power of a quiet example.” William Bennett in The Book of Virtues
- Walk the Talk. Be more caring and sharing with each other. When you show kindness, empathy, love and integrity through your own words and actions, your children will model your behaviour.
- Show Respect. Parents who honour each other, who share family responsibilities, and who resolve their differences in peaceful ways communicate a powerful message about respect. If children experience respect firsthand within the family, they are more likely to be respectful of others. Simply stated, respect begets respect.
- Teach Good Manners. Insist that all family members use good manners in the home. Good manners are really the Golden Rule in action. Whether the issue is courtesy or other simple social graces, it is in the home that the true thoughtfulness for others has its roots.