What Kids Learn from Your Marriage

Having a date night

Love Lesson: Stay Close

Surely you remember when your spouse was your top priority. You rearranged your schedules to be together, sacrificed sleep for another hour of sex, and went out of your way to perform thoughtful gestures on the other's behalf.

Then you had kids. As lovely and magical as your offspring are, their incessant demands can make focusing on your partner feel like a luxury. "It's the reality of many parents, especially moms, that the care of children leaves no energy, time, or even desire to invest in their marriage," says Sheryl Kayne, who runs parenting workshops in Westport, Connecticut. With dual careers, an endless list of extracurricular activities, and an infinite number of distractions (Facebook, American Idol), couple time often gets shelved.

The fix? Good old date night. "It requires effort to remain friends, lovers, and connected partners," insists Kayne, who believes setting up a weekly event is nonnegotiable. (If cash or child care is an issue, do date night 2010-style: Eat a civilized meal at home, then order a movie on demand after the kids are in bed.) "The relationship you build with your partner creates the foundation for your family, so you want it to be a strong one. You may think that your children will resent this time away from them, but when kids grow up knowing their parents love and make time for each other, it provides a sense of security that nothing else can."

Clearly, divergent schedules make lots of one-on-one time impossible, but showing your kids that you want to be together -- even for five minutes stolen here and there -- goes a long way.

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