Continuing on with the idea of looking at other people's writings for some conversation fodder. I thought we would visit my friend Dean Dorman's blog. Dean is a local therapist and I have the privilege of calling this skilled clinician a friend.

He has a book coming out in the not so distant future about relationships, resentment and intimacy. Below is a section of the book regarding our focus. Should it be on our kids or on our spouse? Does it matter? This is obviously a hot topic and usually the argument can be charted on an age continuum. Dean's take is fairly plain and in my opinion dead on target. It's long, but well worth the read. Enjoy.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that if your relationship starts to deteriorate you should fill the void with more focus on the children. This feels natural but it doesn’t work. It is at these times that couples need to focus on their marriage. If you love your children you will not focus on them during these difficult times. You need to give them the benefit of two parents that love them; a couple that is there for them. Emotionally and financially supporting a family has never been more difficult.

Two people who are in love and care for each other become the model that the children see for a healthy marriage. They become what their children will remember for how two people should talk to each other and interact. There are a lot of poor models out there that children see on a regular basis. Let your children see two people who are the leaders of the home. Yes, they argue, but they are respectful and resolve their differences. They carve time out for themselves. This is not selfish. This is the very self-­‐care that is important in maintaining the integrity of the family. When couples carve time out for themselves, it communicates that each is still important.

Once children sense that you and your mate are intact, you can make difficult parenting decisions. Many of these decisions will not be popular, but they need to be made. I see this in the healthiest couples. They stay connected because they carve time out for themselves. They take vacations without their children sometimes; even if some nay-­‐sayers judge them. Look, everyone knows what kind of parent you are anyway. Trust me. People can see if you are selfish or self-­‐less by all the other interactions they have with you. Trust yourself. Carving out time for the couple will pay dividends both when the children are in the home and when they have moved on. Work on maintaining the connection and the rest will follow. Your children will see you as a leadership team; not two people who share the same space but whom they can play one against the other. They will know that you’re too tight and too connected to even try that strategy. They know that you talk everyday, several times a day, and that they can’t get anything past you. This holds your children to a different standard. They know that they have to take responsibility for their own behavior because there will be no way to escape or avoid it. And they will realize early on that they can’t drive a wedge between the two of you. And don’t worry if you and your spouse have been alienated in the past. The perception that you and your spouse are “together on this” can still be instilled in one’s children even if there have been periods where the both of you haven’t been close.

Remember, if you are successful in your quest to stay connected, you will stay married. Nothing is more important to the health of your children than staying married. When researchers ask young girls why they didn’t get pregnant or experiment with sex early in their teens, their response is consistent. When girls have a father at home that they have a good relationship with, this keeps them from being needy for acceptance and affection elsewhere. They also say that they would not want to lose their father’s respect, so they make difficult choices to maintain their father’s approval. Carve out time for your marriage; it will pay dividends in the long run. Carve out a date night. Carve out time away from the children to walk or talk. Couples need to maintain communication so that their children know they truly love them.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? If you decide to answer do me a favor and tell me your age in decades (24=20's, 34=30's etc) and tell me how many children you have and how long you've been married.


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