Wanderlust: Expat Life & Style in Thailand The Relationships Issue - Page 11

over borrowing shoes or choosing TV shows , daily life at the Smith residence isn ’ t exactly tranquil .
Chaos and competition are two reasons why Mandy and Chad try to spend time with each child one on one . “ Chad will ask one of them to join him if he goes to get some work done at Starbucks , and one of their favorite family traditions is a breakfast date alone with Daddy on every birthday ,” Mandy says . Mandy and Chad do this , they say , “ to hear their children ’ s hearts .”
During dates with mom or dad , the children ’ s personalities have a chance to emerge : There ’ s Tristan , with his strong resolve and persistence , and his twin , Abi , who shows exemplary maturity for her age . Britain , at 12 , demonstrates diligence and drive , and Izzy ’ s sense of humor keeps everyone in stitches .
Evie ’ s contemplative nature and compassion show she ’ s an equal blend of her mom and dad . Five-yearold Gigi , meanwhile , charms with her inquisitiveness , and playful baby Eden — the “ wind-up toy ” of the family — provides entertainment wherever he goes .
Sometimes we refer to our children as “ the kids ” so often that we risk forgetting each child is an individual with a unique set of thoughts , worries and dreams . So if you have more than one child , try to remind yourself how insightful and impactful those quiet , one-on-one moments with each child can be . How can we hear the hearts of our children if we never carve out the time to listen ?
Time together as a couple is pivotal to Mandy and Chad ’ s 15-year marriage . They are a wife and husband who manage to do the near-impossible : The couple connects frequently by making a point of spending time together . Their best piece of advice for partners raising children is to “ make the marriage a priority , not the kids .”
Many couples , though , fall into a rhythm that leaves barely enough of their days for work , chores and the children , let alone marriage . The union of wife and husband is all too often left to the back burner , where it ’ s set , eventually , to more of a subtle simmer than a roiling boil .
As any parent can attest , prioritizing the marriage is easier said than done . How exactly do the Smiths build in couple time ? How do they make it work ?
Part of the key is setting expectations . Mandy explains that the kids have to be patient and that they ’ ve