Let’s face it, romance and intimacy can quickly take a back seat when we become parents. We give lovingly and endlessly to our children, but if little energy is saved for ourselves or our partners, a large wedge can unknowingly sneak in between the relationship.
Here are 4 steps to help ensure your relationship not only endures, but strengthens in the journey of parenthood.
First rule, you cannot give what you do not have. Take time out for yourself first and do something you love. Nurture that part of you that remains to be all you, then you must allow your partner to do the same. When we reconnect with ourselves, we ground ourselves and create space for others. If it means taking turns with your partner, finding a sitter, calling the in-laws, going to the gym and using their childcare center, finding a mom’s morning out program, finding other mom’s in your local networks to take turns watching the kids, whatever it takes, go for it.
KINDNESS AND COMPASSION
By honoring our time and our partner’s time, we naturally tend to be more thoughtful, patient, and willing to give to each other. We have more energy to put forth into the relationship. Little notes, unexpected hugs, instant messages, simple, tiny acts that show how much we care. In our house, it’s making each other’s coffee, planning a dinner out together, cleaning the litter box, helping with workrelated tasks, filling the gas tank. Everything counts because it means somehow we’ve made life easier for each other. It means that we have taken the time, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, to think and do something for our partner.
There is nothing more damaging to self and to a relationship than unresolved resentments. Hint #1: If you are snapping or nagging at your partner, and feeling angry when they are around, you have resentment. Figure out clearly why you are upset first, and understand that you may have a part in the problem (I usually do). Take time to talk openly, and if you don’t have time, write a note or email saying you must talk face to face. Make a lunch date, wait until the kids are sleeping, whatever it takes to talk your resentments over. The longer you wait, the harder this will become. Resentments do not disappear, they only get saved for the next blowout. Hint #2: An attack approach won’t resolve anything. If the rift between you and your partner feels too big to deal with, maybe it’s time to get some help. Consider how far you are willing to go to fix your relationship.
It’s crucial to have quality alone time with your partner. A 30minute walk, a short night or weekend away, a 2hour dinner date, whatever it takes. This one-on-one time helps remind couples of who they are outside of their roles as parents and partners in home/life management. It helps you reflect back to what you’ve created, and remember that you chose to be on this amazing journey together. Life moves fast, gets busy, the kids take our attention away, yes all of these things are true, but without the foundation of being a strong, intimate couple, things only get harder, not easier. By giving ourselves the time, giving our partner the time, and taking time together, we are showing our children how to respect ourselves and each other.
©photo by Dr. Wendy Longo is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
MJ writes at Wander Wonder Discover where she continues to unwrap the joys and heartaches of living, learning, relationships and parenting. A soul seeker to the core, when MJ isn’t volunteering at the kids’ school, she is dancing, reading, bird-watching, playing the banjo and recording her human observations and wanderings in one too many journals. She lives in Boulder, CO with her energetic, fun-loving boy, dragon riding, fairy girl, her best friend and husband of 16 years, and Alfie the cat.