Rachael Finch, an Australian model, received a lot of criticism this month for her and her husband’s tradition of spending every weekend child-free, according to the Huffington Post.
Their daughter, Violet, is left with her grandmother so that the couple can have time to reenergize, according to the Huffington Post.
“I think it’s incredibly healthy for our relationship,” Finch said, according to the Huffington Post. “And on Sunday, when we pick her up, we have 100 percent energy back.”
Fans remained in support of Finch’s views, while critics accused her of being selfish and unprepared in her parenting, according to the Huffington Post.
“Only the parents of a child truly know what is best and should have faith in their decision,” Finch said, according to the Huffington Post. “I value dearly the relationship Violet has with her grandmother, and I believe this is one of the most important and influential relationships growing up.”
Scott Durfee, bishop of the Rexburg 33rd Married Student Ward, said this balance is a challenge nearly every married couple faces with or without children.
“That is probably the most important relationship that we need to work on and nurture is a couple’s relationship, and yet this is the time of life when it seems you have less and less time,” Durfee said. “When kids come along, it seems you have even less.”
Durfee said that even though life can get extremely busy, it is important for spouses to find time to spend with each other even if it’s just a few hours a week.
“Quite often, we look and think, ‘Right now our kids are what’s most important,’” Durfee said.’”We have to spend time with our kids,’ and that’s true, but eventually kids grow up, and you need to find time as a couple to find things that you like to do together. You have to cultivate that friendship and that relationship along the way. Spend time getting to know each other.”
Durfee said it is wise for couples to get the habit of spending time together before children come along so that it will be easier when children come along.
“If you set goals and patterns in your life, that helps,” Durfee said.
Durfee said an important part of this pattern is for a couple to nurture their relationship as their children grow older as the challenge to find time to spend together increases.
“The family is only as strong as the marriage,” said Timothy Rarick, a faculty member in the home and family department. “I think dating is a critical part of the marriage. And it doesn’t have to be something where you’re spending money; it’s just consistent time that you spend together when you do talk about important things beyond just the surface stuff. But that can be taken to the extreme to where we have a really big imbalance.”
Rarick said this imbalance can cause children to feel they are not as important and the parents have other things they would rather be doing.
“Yes, you need to be consistently courting your spouse, but a very close second to that is that you need to go on dates with your children, too,” Rarick said. “All of those relationships need to be fostered.”
Rarick said one way to reach this balance is to hold family meetings where the schedules and needs of each family member are discussed and where one-on-one time for parents, spouses and children can be prioritized throughout the coming week.
“There needs to be one-on-one time with the children,” Rarick said. “I know families are crazy busy, but you have to be intentional about that. It doesn’t have to be every single day. You have to be an agent to act and not let your schedule or auto-pilot act upon you.”
Trenton Perry, a senior studying exercise physiology, said what he and his wife, Malia Perry, found helpful was to set their priorities early as a couple. He said they schedule each day according to these goals.
“As we both have jobs, the kids are in day care until four or five o’clock most weekdays,” Trenton Perry said. “So from five to eight o’clock every evening, it is strictly family time. We usually have a TV show we binge watch together.”
Trenton Perry said they take full advantage of weekends, finding cheap activities to do as a family and plan a date at least every other weekend as a couple.
“I love the hymn, ‘I Am a Child of God,’” Rarrick said. “It has great parenting words in it. Lead, guide, walk beside, help and teach are things you can do in a marriage and you can do in parenting. It doesn’t have to be overly programmatic or just going through the motions.”