The foundation of marriage is parenting. To be strong parents to our children, we must first be strong husbands and wives to each other. Anne and I have have just been married for two years so we are still in the honeymoon stage of our marriage. Now that we have a baby, we must always remember to first build a strong marriage and make sure that we both are healthy and happy so we can be the best parents we can be for baby Rianne. One of my favourite personal quotes I made is: “The best gift we can give our children is a happy marriage.”
Little Rianne is watching us always – watching when we are happy and laughing but also when we are angry and fighting. She takes in the good and the bad. We need to give children credit since they are very attune to relationship, communication, and reading body language – yes, even when they are babies and toddlers. In fact, when we are fighting I can even sense a puzzled and worried look on her face as if to ask, “Why are you fighting, mommy & daddy?”
So, what are some of the things we have done to build a strong marriage:
1. Regular Date Nights – we used to go on weekly date nights but since we had the baby we have had 5 dates in 6 months. So, our weekly date nights have become monthly date nights. We are lucky that my mom lives 10 blocks away so we can leave Rianne with grandma whenever we need to. Spending time along with your spouse helps strengthen your bond and allows you to become better parents.
2. Communication – the problems we have in our marriage are often due to a breakdown in communication; when we both seek to assert our own way and not listen to the other. When I humbly tell my wife, “I’m sorry” and take steps to change my actions, she is always willing to forgive me. Choosing to forgive, let go, and move on is something that we both have learned to do (and still must remember to do always).
3. Time Alone – sometimes it is healthy for us to be completely by ourselves away from each other and from the baby. So we take turns looking after the baby. Monday & Tuesday evenings I am usually at a meet up or business networking event and Wednesday & Thursday, Anne has dinner with a friend or goes shopping. This leaves the weekend to do a family activity together.
4. Mentors & Friends – I have had the same mentor, Paul Ratsoy, for over 10 years now. Paul is happily married with a daughter of his own so I can often ask him for wisdom and advice. Also, I often share our challenges with my best friend, Richard Leduc. In addition, we have a couple of close friends (Joshua & Jordina and Olivier & Tullia) that we can share the joys and struggles of marriage and parenting.
5. Prayer – as Christians, one of our tools in our itinerary is the power of prayer. When we have a fight, we each spend time alone with God asking Him for clarity, peace, and reconciliation. We both find the Lord removes the anger in our hearts and replaces it with peace and love for each other. As the famous saying goes, “The family that prays together, stays together.”
So, what strategies have you used to strengthen your marriage?