Post written by Blended Family columnist Melissa Gorzelanczyk of Peace & Projects.

The routine of married life can leave little time left to focus on your marriage.
In our blended family, raising two (almost) teenagers takes up an enormous amount of time and energy – especially when we allow it to become our only focus.
Who hasn’t gone on a date and spent the whole time talking about the kids? I know we have.
The problem with focusing too hard on other parts of our married life – and not each other – is that when I start to feel disconnected from Mr. Right, the foundation of our family is at risk.
We are the foundation.
It is essential that we are on the same page – physically, emotionally and as co-parents – so that the family unit can thrive.
Here are a few ways we’ve committed to stay connected as husband and wife. Try focusing on your marriage as the more important link in your blended family and see how that affects the rest of the problems you face.

Daily: 15 minutes of time dedicated to each other.

We call this “marriage time” in our house. Explain how important this time is to your kids, go into your bedroom and lock the door. Use this time to reconnect as lovers, not just parents.
Kiss. Look each other in the eye. Ask about one another’s day.
Don’t let every conversation revolve around the problems you’re facing with the kids or finances or a dog who needs a bath. Here are some more ways to find 15 minutes of time for each other:

  • If you both work, commit to a daily phone date.
  • Meet for lunch or coffee.
  • Wake up 15 minutes earlier to snuggle in bed and reconnect.
  • Skype or chat through Facebook

Weekly: Date night.

Take turns planning a date night. Need some new ideas? Check out the date night tab from The Dating Divas. If you don’t have the time or money to go out weekly, plan one night a week to stay in and “date” at home once the kids are in bed. Here are 5 ideas for a date night at home:

  • Eat dinner in the backyard, patio or put a blanket down in front of the TV.
  • Give each other a back rub or foot rub.
  • Go to bed early together.
  • Recreate the first meal you shared at home.
  • Create a private blackout. Forbid use of all electricity and light candles.

Annual: Vacation without kids.

In addition to family vacations each year, plan a weekend or full week to getaway just the two of you. You’ll have time to focus on each other without distractions, something that isn’t easy to do the rest of the year. If your budget is tight, getaway close to home – even one night at a hotel with a day spent at the park can refresh your relationship for months to come.

Stay connected.

Spending quality time with your partner will strengthen your connection when the challenges of a blended family feel against you. Make it a priority to check in and constantly recommit to your spouse. This keeps your family strong, no matter what struggles you face with the kids or the ex or your finances.
How do you keep your marriage strong within a blended family?

(photo source)

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