Tanya Younce, M.Ed., LPCC


How Fish Sticks can Strengthen your Marriage

When I was a kid, my two brothers and little sister and I were often babysat by local teenagers while my parents went out for either dates, parties, or other fun get-togethers.  We all knew that if my mom was baking fish sticks or potpies and getting out the applesauce, it was a sure bet that either Mary Estelle Kennelly or Susan Langloh was going to be babysitting us that night.

We didn’t complain about it much.  It was actually normal (and even fun!) for us to have babysitters 2 to 3 times a month, because my siblings and I all had a visceral understanding that our parents were adults, who were married, and that their needs and plans were just as important as ours.

But these days, it seems like that kind of attitude is scorned. Putting the well-being of your marriage even on the same level as the well-being of your children, is considered unusual at best, and selfish at worst.

And despite the articles and research that have been written, proving that putting your marriage’s needs above those of your children is the most beneficial way to manage your family’s needs, couples still insist on making excuses for why they don’t have the time, energy, or money to maintain the connection that they so lovingly created in the first place.

It makes me wonder — given the “permission” to swap priorities, would couples actually do it?

marriedI’ve worked with many married couples who have become incredibly disconnected due to putting their children’s needs first.  It’s called a child-centered marriage.  The kids become the main “glue” that keep them together.  Healthy marriages need so much more than just their children to keep them connected!  How about other glue — like humor, common interests, a strong circle of friends, great sex, fun trips, meaningful conversations, and creating any other kind of sacred space that’s off limits to the kids?

Marriages are organic entities, which means they are always evolving, changing, morphing, and needing different things as time goes on.  It’s like software that keeps running and updating in the background of your busy daily lives.  If couples don’t pay attention to this entity, it will either crash or it’ll look so different by the time the children grow up that they’ll have no idea how to care for it.  Because they wanted to live up to the standard of being “good parents” who put their children first, couples have lost their ability to openly and comfortably talk about and care for their relationship.

If you do have children who are dominating your home life, I implore you to talk with your spouse about factoring in more time and energy for just the two of you.  After the kids go to bed, spend quality time together.  Give each other love and affection every single day.  And at least twice a month, find a babysitter or take them to grandma’s and go out!!  Don’t have relatives nearby?  Don’t know where or how to find a sitter?  Go to these sites, where you can find profiles, pictures and reviews of people who’d be more than happy to watch your little ones:


In Northern KY and Mason, OH, they have a childcare drop-off business where professionals will watch your child/children day or night for an hourly fee: www.skidaddles.com

If these options are too pricey, consider forming a Babysitting Club with other parents in your area, through www.meetup.com or on Facebook.  Here’s an article with more details: http://www.wordconstructions.com.au/articles/family/bsitclubnew.html

Remember….your relationship existed before any children came along, and it will exist well after they have left home and started families of their own, if you’ve taken good care of it.  Don’t feel guilty! It’s much easier for children to learn to like having babysitters and fish sticks than it is to be raised by disconnected, unhappy parents.  So do this for them.  More importantly….do this for YOU!

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