I know very little about construction, but there is tons of it going on around my house. And though I know very little about construction, I do know one thing — if you are putting up a wall for example, you usually want the wall to be in a straight line on the foundation from one end of the house to the other.
I’m sure there are many ways to do this, but I often see the construction crews out there with all kinds of chalk lines and paint, making sure that as they erect the wall it follows down a straight path. Without the chalk or paint to act as guides in the constructing of the wall, it’s quite possible to get to the end and realize that the wall has gradually drifted out of alignment.
In marriage this is often referred to as the marital drift.
Two people get married with all the best intentions in the world, but over time they drift apart. Sometimes it’s abrupt, but often it is subtle and gradual.
The story that is most often told is two people waking up one day after their kids have gone off to college and they look at each other and wonder, “Who are you?”
Marital drift is a very scary and painful thing. It’s heartbreaking to watch couples realize they have drifted apart over time.
And what makes it so heartbreaking is that there were hundreds of different things the couple could have done to keep the drift from happening. Very simple things like date nights, intentional time to connect, self-care, balanced schedules, prayer, etc.
There are several different topics I could get into right now, but I want to focus on one thing that I often see as a major contributing factor to a couple’s marital drift.
This major contributing factor is the amount of kid’s activities.
Kid’s activities are great.
They are great for the kids.
They are great for the couple.
They are great for the family.
It’s fun going to soccer games and piano recitals.
It’s great bonding time to coach a kid’s team or help them prepare for the school play.
But too many activities and events can disconnect a couple and perpetuate the drift.
There are two issues here really — what is a healthy number of activities for a kid.
I happen to be a big believer in the Meg Meeker rule of “one after-school activity per grading period.” I mentioned this at a parenting workshop where several parents were upset that I said this. “What do you know about this topic since your kids are so young…just wait till they get older and start doing everything.”It is true that my kids are younger and the demands on their schedule are less.
But what I also know is that when kids become overly involved in activities, not only is it detrimental to their mental health, but it is detrimental to the marriage.
Which brings me to my second issue, and what I really want couples to know.
When kids become involved in lots of activities a marriage eventually re-orients itself around the activities of the kids. The kids and their activities become the focus and a couple starts to drift.
Couples drift when they no longer have time together to connect. And when they do connect, they usually only talk about their kids, their kids activities, and basically anything kid related or that has to do with the business of running the house.
How many activities should my kids participate in?
I can’t answer that question for you since I am not the parent. But one way to answer that question is to ask yourself, “Do my spouse and I have adequate time each week to spend with one another?” “Is our marriage the focus of the family, or are our kids and their activities the focus?”
If you don’t have adequate time each week to connect with your spouse and your marriage is not the focus of the family, then it might be time to re-prioritize. And re-prioritizing might involve cutting back on kid’s activities.
For many couple’s the drift has happened without them knowing. And sometimes the drift allows a couple to avoid conflict, and the opportunity to really connect and be vulnerable with one another.