By Guest Blogger Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LPCA

On most cases you married before having kids, and more often than not, you and your spouse will find a day that your sweet child will leave the nest. The time frame that takes place between your child(s) early years of development to the day they move out can be lengthy. The majority of kids do not leave home until after high school or some even college.

During the years that your child lives at home, there maybe shifts in attention that are negatively impacting the marriage. You or your spouse may find yourself giving more attention to your child then your spouse which in turn weighs upon your marriage. There is a way to give time to your kid(s) while continuing to devote yourself to your marriage.

Married couples can keep their marital relationship strong by:

• Date Night

You and your partner NEED to have one on one time at least once a week in order to build deep long-lasting emotional bond. By getting away, and having a few hours that you and your partner can devote to each other there will be ample opportunity for maintaining excitement in your relationship, passion, and overall connection.

• Paid Time Off a.k.a PTO

I assume you are familiar with the definition of Paid Time Off as it relates to work, right? If not, simply put it, means that you can take your vacation or time off from work using the monies that you have accrued overtime. Most people like this considering it basically means that you are being paid while not at work. As a spouse you probably have already realized that your role just as your spouse’s role has no time-off. You are expected to always be there for your one and only just as they are held to the same expectations.

Give your spouse a PTO card. Write down on a flash card a fixed number of hours, maybe 1 or 2 hours. On the card write in big letters: PTO. Give it to your spouse at least once per week. Giving that person time to relax, enjoy a massage or go for a solo lunch or movie. By doing so, there will a notable difference in stress and anxiety

• Reminisce on your relationship

Reminiscing on the path that you two have taken presents the opportunity to reconnect emotionally. Try and think about the good, great and just plain awesome moments in your relationship. I bet that you have dozens and dozens of perfect moments, laughable moments and romantic moments. Although communication is often the first idea that comes to mind, try exploring past places or activities. Take out your old pictures or go through your Facebook in a quiet private setting.

• Do more together

The list can go on with the amount of activities you and your partner can do together. Do NOT let it end. If you work out, why isn’t your partner there with you? If you love to shop, why isn’t your partner there with you? Find activities that you two can engage in together as they will remind you of why you love each other, teach you knew things about each other, and build a stronger and longer lasting emotional connection.

Your kids will always be a priority. You and your spouse will always find time for them faster than you will for each other; and with less excuses. Once you are able to practice and implement the above recommendations there will be a notable change within your family unit. These changes will impact the parents and kids within the home as well as persons that are within the support system. Your kids will feel happier seeing their parents engage In more intimate acts which paints your child a picture of what a stable and supportive marriage should look like. In return, you and your spouse will have a nice decrease in stress and anxiety, feelings of reconnection and intimacy towards each other, and life outside of family will seem not as hectic as before.