For many couples, navigating the teen years plays havoc on their marital relationship. Some who have already raised teens tell me it was the most difficult time in their marriage. Yet the quality and example of your marriage will have a profound influence on the life of your teenager. Couples who can navigate the turbulent waters of marriage during the teen parenting years will provide their kids with a foundation of security and peace that will help them enter adulthood as responsible adults who look forward to a healthy marriage themselves.
Couples with teenagers around the house often roll their eyes when the subject of romance is brought up. They look back at another time in the relationship as a time with more physical intimacy. Too many couples have settled for mediocrity in their marriage, and frankly, are often just lazy when it comes to romancing each other.
It seems like back in the days when we were dating and courting our spouse, we could always find time and energy for them. We did special little things for them. Romantic love does change over the years, but it doesn’t have to slow to a crawl. Someone in the relationship is going to have to decide to initiate romance. Yes, this sounds a bit unromantic and not spontaneous. If the romance in your marriage is good now, then by all means keep doing whatever you are doing. But if it is not working how you want, be more intentional.
When the kids were younger, you could put them to bed early, perhaps light a fire in the fireplace, then get up and go get little Janie a drink of water, go back to the fireplace and snuggle up to your spouse… who had already fallen asleep. Yes, you were both tired then too! With teens, you may well be going to bed earlier than they do now. I know a couple who took massage classes together at the local community college. They put a lock on the bedroom door. There have been moments when their teenagers have teased them but frankly, they are being good role models for their kids and their future spouses. A regular nonnegotiable date night is a must. Cathy and I chose to go away for one night each quarter. It’s amazing what just a few hours away can do to replenish your relationship. Concerts, walks in the park, flowers, special meals, love notes, texts, and phone calls are all a part of being proactive about romance. The good thing about teenagers is that they can usually take care of themselves, so it is easier to find special times with your spouse.
What are you doing right now to make your spouse feel special and to keep the spark in your marriage alive? If you don’t invest in the relationship with your spouse now, you do so at the long-term peril of your marriage. Eventually, your kids will be out of the house and on their own for good. Really. So, what you do today to keep your marriage vibrant and strong will pay off in big dividends when you and your spouse become empty nesters.
Excerpted and adapted from Jim’s book, “Understanding Your Teen: Shaping Their Character, Facing Their Realities.”