Demanding children & relationship with step-parents

Hi, Mary Jo.

What is your best advice for two parents of two demanding children with two demanding jobs other than going on date night to keep the relationship strong?



My best piece of advice for couples like you involves not letting your marriage coast. Couples who are close through it all don’t magically become that way; they pay deliberate attention to each other. Here are some helpful ways to keep your relationship strong:

  1. Experience new things together. Sign up and attend a new class, course, or adventure together. The couples who sit silently at dinner have nothing to say to each other because they’re letting their work and family demands take over.
  2. Share secrets together. How you feel intimately about each other is personal – keep it that way. Flirt and play together but keep it private or secret from others. This makes your partner feel exclusive. You want that for marital closeness.
  3. Take over for each other. When one of you is overwhelmed, the other one should be able to take on an extra load. You’re a team so play like one.
  4. Save time for romance. Each day should not come to an end without some romantic gesture – a flower, a foot massage, a candlelight dinner with the kids in bed. Practice makes perfect!
  5. Schedule intimacy. Couples who schedule and make plans for intimacy have intimacy. Couples who don’t complain about not having time aren’t prioritizing intimacy.

Hi, Mary Jo.

Should you establish a relationship with your child’s step-parents or just your child’s other parent?



The general rule among my colleagues, as well as myself, is anyone who you entrust your children to should be someone you have a respectful relationship with. If your ex is the primary care-taker and he has a significant other, it is their responsibility to make sure their child is well taken care of during times spent together. If the step-parent is the primary care-taker then I would establish a relationship of mutual respect and understanding with them. Any confusion or difficulty with ensuring your children are well cared for should be handled by a legal expert.