12 March 2012, by Darren Lim
I remembered when Evelyn was pregnant with our very first child, Kristen, a friend who has three kids visited us and left this very somber reminder to me, “Be warned that after your child arrives, you (Darren) will find that Evelyn will have very little time for you.” (ie she will be busy taking care of and nurturing the kids and will not have time for me!)
Very much of what he said came true! In the first few months, thick in the euphoria and excitement of being a new father, all the attention was on Kristen, so even I didn’t give much time to Evelyn! But after Jairus, then Way, came along and the situation didn’t change even after they’re all able to walk and talk, I realized I had to do something or my friend’s prophesy will come true! Right away, I took her out for a “date” (she wanted to lose her pregnancy fats so it wasn’t too tough to entice her with the MacRitchie Tree-top Walk) and from then on we stuck to it on a weekly basis and I reclaimed my wife back!
Some wives might think, “Hey, can’t you just give her a break? She’s got enough on her hands already and you’re still expecting her to add one more item on her ‘to-do list’? “ But you know what? It’s exactly because I know she’s had a lot to do with the kids already, that’s why I’m insisting on the weekly arrangement of “date-nights” (I’m not asking for the whole day ok?) to help her break the monotony of changing diapers and singing ABC’s to the kids and have something to look forward to on a weekly basis! But more importantly, I am investing our time together and in our love in order to build up this family through such dates.
Recently, Evelyn and I have been taking a parenting course (in the words of our course-mate: if you have to study a 4-year degree to be a doctor, you need to at least attend one parenting course if you want to parent right!) and one of the topics in the course touched on exactly that! That the husband- and- wife relationship is the fundamental building block of the family and that if that is not given priority status and accorded such attention, the family will face several risks:
1) Because the child becomes the focus of both parents, the resulting type of parenting becomes child-centred (and the underlying message is that they are more likely to turn out to be brats because they don’t see themselves as team players, playing alongside star members — their parents — but as the stars of the team!)
2) For younger children, because they don’t see a tangible expression of love between parents, they might go into a “low-level anxiety” mode in response to a need for security, to know that their parents are doing well in their relationship. As quoted, “children know intuitively that if something happens to mum and dad, their whole world will collapse. If the parents’ relationship is always in question, in the mind of the child, he tends to live his life on the brink of emotional collapse.”
Wow, very serious right? But I strongly believe that if our children are the fruits of our love, then all the more we should protect the tree. And only a good tree will bear good fruits, so by role modelling to our children what they should expect of a husband-and-wife relationship, hopefully they too will be able to achieve the same in their future relationships with their spouses!
So what are the ways we can achieve this demonstration of love in front of our children? Perhaps spending time one-to-one with your spouse on a regular basis, IN FRONT OF the children would be good; chit-chatting about things that are not going to ruffle feathers (so in-law issues, even discipline issues etc will have to wait) … … I know many parents tend to hurry the kids to sleep early so that they get to spend quiet moments together, I’m not saying that this is not important because it is too, but the whole idea is to show how connected and in love you guys are in front of the kids!
Boy, am I glad that now apart from our once-a-week dates, I can look forward to daily loving moments with my wife too, on the couch just talking about everything under the sun too (with hot topics intentionally barred!). Guys, you’ve just been given the licence to do the same and all in the name of love and successful parenting! Who knows, this might guard against the “empty-nest” syndrome 20 years down the road too, so enjoy the “guilt-free” dates from now on!