In our family, we have been working on creating habits that benefit the individual, the marriage and the family.
The greatest change between my first and second marriages was improving my individual habits. To marry the right woman, I had to become a better man.
- Meditation or prayer – Learning To Sit article
- Exercise & Health – Change Your Life article
- Gratitude – Creating A Habit of Gratitude article
- Self-reflection – 100+ articles per annum
- Self-improvement via one positive step per day
As you stack on the commitments of career, marriage and children – make time to sustain habits that give your life meaning. Interestingly, I used to think that five hours of exercise per day gave my life meaning – it was a relief to discover that I do just fine on far less. That realization makes me wonder what additional aspects of my current life will fall away over time.
Another observation is my wife gives me total freedom to entertain my fantasies. Specifically, since my teens I have had a recurring desire to escape. My wife is willing to cover the family for 2-8 day stretches. The gift of time alone gives me perspective on what my family brings me (love, companionship, and an opportunity for service).
Set these habits up before the kids arrive!
- Communicate before you have issues – if you’re fighting, or angry, then you have issues – get professional mediation with your issues
- Weekly date night – two hours per week, every week
- Time without agenda – in 2013, we’re weightlifting together each week
- Couples Retreat – some of our favorite memories (an article from early in the marriage, and an article with kids swarming)
- Cooking healthy food and splitting household chores – efficiency from specialization
Maintain these habits after the kids arrive! It’s easy to lose yourselves.
We’ve stolen best practice whenever, wherever possible!
- Daddy trips – since my daughter was toilet trained we’ve done trips together
- Easter egg hunt – we missed this year but want to bring it back – we invite our friends’ kids and friends without kids
- Matching pajamas at Christmas – these make great family pictures and provide fond memories across the year. I have a “Daddy G” set of PJs that make me smile every time I look at them. Participation is optional, we’ve had a feisty three-year-old opt out!
- Sunday breakfast – we’ve stopped and started with this one because it’s tough to get a toddler to sit still for long. For summer, we are thinking of trying a picnic so the little ones can run around.
- Rings – on both sides of our families, there have been family rings used to symbolize coming of age – we’ve thought about maintaining this tradition
- Parent / Kid Events – with three kids, we’re thinking about doing events with Mom/Dad and just-one-kid – perhaps on their quarter birthdays (5.25, 5.50, 5.75 for example). The goal being some time with both parents when the kid gets to choose what we do.
Deciding on religious education is an area that we’ve been considering and I’ve been educating myself about my wife’s family’s tradition. In terms of making a choice that has the potential to resonate for 100 years, this is one of the more important.