There's few who will dispute that having children can cause problems within a marriage. After all, a couple who is used to spending all their free time with each other suddenly find themselves having a different agenda once a baby is born. After all, little ones have a lot of needs that they are unable to meet without assistance. Even in the very earliest years, a child can prove to overwhelm a marriage, and as the little one grows, needs change but still require adult supervision and even participation. These activities can also drive a wedge between the parents if it's allowed to do so. So how can you help your marriage survive your child's involvement in sports?

The reality of this situation is that the sports your children participate in can help strengthen your family bonds by giving you all a common interest. It's a dangerous path to walk, though, between family bonding and obsessive behavior which can cause rifts to appear. Make sure that your entire family knows what having one or more members in sports can mean. Talk about the chances for disrupted meal times, the commitment that everyone is going to have to make to accommodate frequent practices and games, and pain a realistic picture of what to expect. That way everyone will know going in what it's going to be like.

When you sign your child up for a sport, you never know what that might end up meaning for you. People running these activities are always trying to line up new recruits to help with coaching, driving, treats, and other tasks. If you plan to be a sidelines parent, you may well find yourself in the thick of things before you realize what's happening. Is your spouse going to be content living around your time commitments? What about being able to take care of your childrens' needs? Be sure of what you're agreeing to before taking on any new duties.

There are other pitfalls you need to be aware of, too. For example, my grandson recently finished the little league baseball season. The family thought they were done with the practices and games only to find out that the child had been selected for a state all-star team. Lo and behold, they now are committed to 5 p.m. practices every day for a month as well as games that can be held anywhere in the state. If he misses a practice, he'll be off the team since there's a waiting list of kids who would like to take his place. All of a sudden, family plans have been thrown for a loop.

Make sure that while you're devoting all of this time to the child playing the sport that you also reserve time to spend with your spouse and your other children. Children can begin to feel abandoned if all of your free time is being given to the family athlete. They have their talents, too, even if they aren't in sports, and those need to be addressed and commended. You and your spouse need to find new ways to communicate and spend time with each other talking about your feelings about what is going on in your lives.

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