First, you don’t need to make the kids a priority. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are extremely effective at expressing their needs!
Second, I’d strongly recommend being a binary parent with your core values. If you’re not into physical and verbal abuse – give yourself a blanket no hit and no yell policy. This saves you having to decide if a situation merits abusing your kids or spouse.
It’s surprisingly easy to fall into abusive habits. I’m a lot more aggressive than I realized pre-kids. Part of why I volunteer is to atone for the remorse I feel with regard to my thoughts about my children!
Don’t worry about the difficulties. Everyone deals with the same stuff and our minds do a good job of forgetting about misery. Two practical tips here…
Spend time listening to other parents talking about their situation. It will always make you feel better.
When fellow parents ask how you are doing, answer them “I’m OK now” or “I’m good now” or, perhaps, “I’m great now.”
The second tip is an effective tactic to avoid carrying the past into the future. Only a small minority of moments will be truly miserable. These moments can be high energy and, therefore, easily remembered. I can be bring myself to tears if I focus on my strongest memories of despair. Not a good habit. On the flip side, when things get so bad they become funny, those are the memories that make a marriage.
It’s not possible to have too many positive triggers. There are days, and nights, when you’ll need them!
Further, you’re likely to get so washed out, that you’ll be grateful if your spouse drops sleep or health to make your life easier.
Carving out time to maintain your marriage is inconvenient. However, it’s essential to avoid finding yourself lost. Your kids are going to keep on rolling either way.
Laugh as a family.