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by Tashica Jacobson

“All this because two people fell in love” is the quote on my grandparents photo wall. While I have heard this saying multiple times, the full impact of it never settled in until I saw their wall with photos of each of their seven children’s families with 46 grandchildren, 96 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren. Needless to say, the number of people in the pictures is pretty astounding. And as the quote says all this, all this love, creation, joy, growth, and work, all these people, traditions, and experiences are because two people fell in love.

The influence that the formation of a family can have on so many people is intense. When a couple says “I do” at the altar, they are giving themselves the power to create something that goes beyond themselves. The couple is the foundation of the family, and as children grow up and find their own spouses they create another foundation as well.

That is why it is so important to work on this foundational relationship between husband and wife. Even as the family expands and life gets busy it is this relationship that keeps the family going strong. Dr. John Gottman, a marriage therapist, recommends that couples spend an additional five hours a week devoted to each other in order to make their marriage flourish. This is less than an hour a day. He even has this time divided between each of these five areas: partings, reunions, admiration/appreciation, affection, and date. He asserts that attention spent “on each other in transitional junctures communicates that you’re important to me, and when you come back at the end of the day, it’s an event. You matter to me.”

With the birth of my first child my grandmother’s advice was to make sure that I still make time for my husband. She said it wasn’t until after she had a couple children that her mother-in-law helped her realize that while the children were important her husband also needed her time and attention, just like she needed his time and attention.

One of Gottman’s five hours is a two hour date with your partner once a week. This is one way a couple can continue to invest in each other throughout the years. One study found that time as a couple was particularly beneficial to certain groups of people, one of these groups being parents. The study indicated that as the family expands, dates become even more important rather than less.

Overall mindfulness of your spouse and that relationship will benefit the whole family. After all, this relationship that created the other relationships. Mother-son, father-daughter, and brother-sister; would not exist if it wasn’t for husband-wife. When a father feels appreciated by his wife he will be more likely to express love towards his children. When parents invest in one another they are also demonstrating to their children how to treat others with love and respect, as well as how to make others feel valuable. These are skills that will benefit them throughout all of life, and ones they will someday use in their own marriages.

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