My marriage is just as important as my kids

If sending the kids to grandma's every weekend means a healthier marriage, go for it!

Photo: Catherine Jheon
Photo: Catherine Jheon

If you haven’t heard, Australian model/former Miss Universe Rachael Finch has been getting a whole lot of flack for shipping off her 2 year old daughter to her grandmas EVERY SINGLE weekend to focus on her marriage.

Finch and her husband have been described as “part-time parents, full-time monsters,” been accused of parental cop-out and have been criticized for even having a kid in the first place.

Before we start judging the 28-year old and her husband for turning grandparents into full-time weekend baby whisperers, let’s take a breath. (Although I can’t help but think the flack is in large part due to her being a model. I mean, how dare she look THAT good with a toddler at home?! But I digress).

I, for one, applaud her. She’s chosen to spend time with her husband because she recognizes that a good relationship can only help you become good parents. You lay the foundation for love and respect in your relationship and your kids are bound to pick up on that. After all, kids are sponges programmed for maximum absorption. I’m reminded of this again and again when my kids drop the “f bomb” more than I’d like to admit.

We live in a culture where once kids are in the picture, they take precedence over everything — usually at the expense of your relationship with your spouse. We spend so much of our time dedicating ourselves to ferrying our offspring to soccer, swimming, music lessons, preparing organic meals from scratch and playing educational games that there’s little if anything left over to put into our partnerships, the very relationships that spawned those kids in the first place.

That’s certainly been the case in my marriage. But I have a husband who’s not happy simply discussing how our 8 year old is doing at cello, or how our 5 year old learnt to tie her shoelaces on her first try. Sure, we celebrate those things, but he wants and expects more from our relationship—more from me.

I admit this has been a source of tension in our relationship. After a full day of work, cooking dinner, cleaning up, laundry, bath, story time … I’m ready to hit the sack. I’m too tired to spend time gazing meaningfully into my husband’s eyes or have stimulating conversations. I mean, how dare he tell me about “his needs”?!

After sessions with the marriage counsellor, I now see his side. He sees the value in having a relationship that’s fulfilling emotionally and intellectually. It’s not always about the kids, he often reminds me. They’ll grow up and leave. Your spouse will stick around — at least that’s the idea, isn’t it?

It’s not easy to make the switch from focusing on your kids to your spouse. Any time my husband and I tried to have a “date night” we usually end up fighting. I think the pressure to make the most of these couple of hours—to have the “perfect” date night—just added more stress to what’s supposed to be our time together.

So we’ve decided to do lunch dates and afternoon coffees instead. Another way we connect is literally making music together, in our case Vivaldi Sonatas (he plays the cello and I play the piano). And yes, we do occasionally ship our kids off to grandma’s, who conveniently lives in the unit below us. This isn’t just good for us—it’s good for my kids and for my mom. The resulting closeness between them is only going to become more beneficial to everyone concerned as the years go by.

Marriage is hard work, and it’s even harder with small kids. There’s a reason why one out of two marriages end in divorce. So good for Rachael Finch for finding a way to balance marriage and family. If that means getting rid of the kids every single weekend, so be it! I think the rest of us could learn a thing or two from this model mom.

Read more:
How to keep your relationship strong when you have kids
Will having kids wreck your marriage? That depends
How to find time with your partner among kid chaos

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