7 Secrets to a Happy Relationship (for Parents)

Relationship data is depressing if you’re a parent.

Studies show that couples without children are in happier relationships.

happy relationships for parents

Downer, right?! (We’ll make it better…)

One study found that 2/3 of couples experience a sharp decline in the quality of their relationship within the first three years of a child’s life.

Uh, bummer for millions of people. So, why is this happening? Well, the possibilities for conflict (and exhaustion) are endless when you are responsible for human life. Obligations multiply. And, often the partner relationship gets put on the back burner.

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what makes couples happy, habits of healthy relationships

But we LOVE our children. They fulfill us. They make us better people. And those precious beings aren’t going anywhere. So, where does that leave us with our happy partner relationship?

How can we find the fulfillment our childless peers enjoy?

Let’s check it out.

Habits of Happy Couples

The happiest among us share these effective habits. Make them a priority and watch your connection soar.

1. Make Time

First, children DRASTICALLY cut the amount of quality time between partners.

And, no. Throwing nuggets across the table doesn’t count. When was the last time you were alone with your spouse? No kids. No technology. No scheduling.

The quality of your time = the quality of your relationship. Check out four easy ways to get more.

Start a Daily Check-in Time

secrets to a happy relationship start with check in time

Daily check-in time is important for many reasons. Of course, communication for family dealings is important. But, this is also the best time to talk about your day and connect in a way you can’t in front of the kids. Open up, hash things out, or just relax together for a few minutes after a long day.

Schedule Date night

Childless couples no doubt enjoy more satisfaction because they regularly do things together (alone). Unfortunately, this doesn’t magically happen after kids. You have to MAKE it happen.

If money or resources are tight, start with an easy at home date night. But plan for dates out of the house as well. Every couple needs time away from their home environment to be partners, not just parents.

At our house, the goal for the year is one date night out per month. No excuses.

When was your last date?

Related Posts:

Plan a Technology Free Night

Technology is a major problem when building amazing relationships. It sucks us into the rabbit hole in a moment’s notice.

So, pick one night of the week and make it screen-free. Put everything away and enjoy games, conversation, or plain old quiet time. Not only will you feel closer to your spouse, but you’ll benefit from unplugging from social media as well.

Check out How to Spend Less Time on Your Phone for tips on putting your devices away!

Add Adult Vacations

happy couples on the ocean

Adult getaways are a great way to bring you together in a short time.

My husband and I took our first trip alone in eight years, and it was shocking (and SO good for us) to step into a fun-loving adult role. It certainly strengthened our relationship.

When is your next adult vacation? An overnight stay counts if you’re short on time or money!

Related Post: 17 Unique Date Night Gift Ideas

2. Have Defined (& Shared) Responsibilities

We each come into parenting with our own ideas of what child-rearing and managing household tasks look like. Talk through these ideas, and decide on a compromise before an argument happens.

But make sure that responsibilities are shared. There are too many exhausted moms today!

If that sounds like you, consider that your marriage would be BETTER if you loosen up on what you do. No one will notice if you don’t fold the kids’ laundry. And even if your husband does something imperfectly, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT.

3. Find What Your Partner Needs

When you’re constantly focusing on your kids, it’s difficult to make your partner feel valued. But it’s worth it to figure out what your partner needs. Often, the way we communicate or give love is not the preferred method of our spouse.

Does your partner need to be touched? Does he like doing shared activities together? Does she feel loved when you compliment her?

There are many great books available to help with this! Check out the 5 Love languages or The Road Back to You for starters.

4. Have Sex Often

What does “often” mean? Well, it depends on a lot. If you have a baby, often is not often. And that’s ok. It’s different for everyone.

However, it should never feel like you’re roommates. If it does, try scheduling your intimate time. While perhaps unromantic, it is an effective way to get back in the groove (speaking from experience).

Some days with kids end in exhaustion and mental overload. So, experiment to see what works. Maybe mornings are a better time for this? What about a weekend foray? Get creative!

Also, spice things up in small ways. Find a fun new game to try!

5. Be the Friend You Should Be

secrets to a happy relationship

One of the secrets to a happy relationship is having your partner as your best friend. We all need a great confidant and cheerleader. But, what if you struggle with this?

  • Support, listen, and cheer! Get that quality time in and LISTEN to how he is doing.
  • Share a vision with her of the future. We love the 5 Year Plan to open up deep conversations.
  • Celebrate his accomplishments as your own. You are a team! Make your partner feel good by being wildly enthusiastic about his or her progress.

“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”

Pablo Neruda

6. Communication is Key

Your ability to communicate effectively drives every happy relationship in our lives.

Yet for most of us, kids are in numerous activities, work looms large, and the household to-do list is through the roof. It’s difficult to stay connected.

Start with a simple “love you” message to your spouse throughout the day. Then, communicate with your partner in person through your check-in time.

Related Post: 30 Simple Text Messages for Your Husband

7. Prioritize Your #1 Relationship

healthy couples

The state of your relationship massively impacts the well-being of your kids. If you are disconnected or angry, they feel anxious and threatened.

Therefore, the number one relationship in your life MUST be with your partner.

Lesli Doares, a couples coach at foundationscoachingnc.com, offers this...

“Intentionally setting boundaries around the marriage is what will keep it happy through the child-rearing years,” she says. “This means keeping kids out of the bedroom most of the time, having regular dates (even if you don’t leave the house), going on adults-only vacations and deciding to limit extra-curricular activities… It’s okay to say ‘no’ to some things. It’s okay for your children to be disappointed sometimes. It actually prepares them for the real world.”

Lesli Doares

In essence, protecting your marriage is one of the best things you can do for your kids.

Related Post: Fun Holiday Traditions for Couples

Something to Consider with a Happy Relationship

As a fellow parent, I can guarantee that putting your marriage first will not be easy, or always go smoothly. However, it’s worth the pursuit.

In 5, 10, or 15 years, your kids will leave the house. And you’ll be staring at the partner across from you. What will that scene look like? How will it feel? Will you be in love?

You deserve a joyful relationship for the long haul. Start now. Tell your spouse you love him or her. And start building on that feeling.

Need some Valentine’s Day ideas?

Check out:

What are your best secrets to a happy relationship?

Other relationship posts to enjoy…

7 Secrets to a Happy Relationship (Even with Kids)


  1. This is so important! My husband and I have to work on our relationship constantly. We are lucky enough to have my mom living close by and she watches our kids so we can get away for a few days sometime. There’s nothing better!

    1. YES! Having a family member close helps tremendously!

  2. These are some great tips! My husband and I just had our 20th anniversary and our 10th year as parents. We have found so many of these tips to be true. ❤

    1. That’s so good to hear Stacey!

  3. This is a lovely post. I think scheduling a date night is a really important thing for parents.

    1. Thanks for sharing Wendy!

  4. these are the best tips but totally agree with making TIME its so important

  5. This is an excellent post with so many great tips! I think every couple who have children or are going to be parents need to read it. You don’t realize how much your relationship is going to change once kids come into the picture. It becomes even more difficult to focus on each other. The time and effort have to be made by both people. These are things I need to keep in mind at all times too. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Heather, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! It’s true, our relationship has changed so much with kids, and we have to really make the effort for a happy relationship. It’s tough but worth it!

  6. I love these! Especially making time. I may not have kids, but life gets in the way FAST. Thankfully my husband and I have a set day every week for date night, and we almost never cancel it. <3

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