10 healthy marriage hacks for parents
10 healthy marriage hacks for parents
Being in an intimate relationship long term can be hard. Hard in that, love, desire and attraction can get buried or lost in the busy ness of life, especially when you have kids.
As busy wives and mums, we need all the help and ideas we can get, which is why I thought I would share with you some of the things that my hubby and I do to stay fresh and inspired with our relationship.
Psst: this is part 3 of my blog post series Relationships after kids
Put your relationship first
One of the biggest reasons that relationships struggle with after children is that the kids become the main priority. In the beginning, it was just you two. You were the focus for each other. Then kids come along with their urgent needs and appealing cries. Before you know it, you and your partner become 2nd or 3rd priorities.
It can be hard to imagine, while you are in the kiddie zine, but your relationship is the priority and needs to be treated accordingly. You and your partner are the glue that holds your family together. If your relationship is healthy and strong, your kids feel it. Instead of bending over backwards to give your children 99.9% of your attention, give your relationship some back.
Take responsibility for your part in things
How your relationship feels is your responsibility. If you are pointing the finger at your partner and blaming them for how it feels, you are playing the victim, and nothing will change. If you want your relationship to feel better, if you need more support with the kids, if you wish you could have more connecting conversations- stop blaming and start doing what you can to make it better. In my experience, the moment you start taking responsibility is the moment when your relationship becomes more of what you want it to be.
Your partner is not a mind reader. They have their own stuff going on. Everyone is busy. To create the relationship you want, you need to really back yourself and communicate clearly.
Tell each other what you are grateful for
One of the biggest killers of love and desire is what John Gottman calls, negative sentiment override; meaning you start to see your partner from behind the filter of negativity and resentment.
With the mega load of “fairy-tale” expectations of “happily ever after” for our relationships, it is hard not to let the reality of things, especially when you add kids to the mix, not turn into a build-up of resentment.
Gratitude cuts through this build-up. Gets us out of our heads and into our hearts which is where we remember the love connection we have for our partners.
Get a lock for your bedroom door
Many of my clients tell me that their sex life has not been the same since having kids and for a lot of them the reason is a lack of privacy. To get your sexual mojo flowing, the last thing you need is the idea that a kid will burst through the door, catching you in mid act.
While the lock may feel like a block between you and your kids, it is important to prioritise your relationship (see point 1).
NB: If you feel uncomfortable about having to admit to your kids that you and your husband have sex, perhaps it is time to explore your discomfort and what you actually want to communicate to your kids on this matter.
Communicate what you need
For so many years of my marriage, I was fuming and frustrated wondering “Why doesn’t he give me what I need?”. Then, one day, I realised that maybe it was because I was expecting him to read my mind, and even though I thought I had told him, I hadn’t. I had hinted, I had grumbled, I had nagged but I hadn’t told him clearly and without blame; what I needed from him as a wife and mother in order to feel really loved, supported and alive.
With so many balls in the air and so little time to percolate together as parents, it becomes even more important to get clear and purposeful with your communication.
Manage your thoughts
It is very easy to have negative, bitchy thoughts about the person you are in an intimate relationship with. It is normal and natural due to the vulnerable position that being in an emotional bond puts us. But the power of the thoughts, and how they affect you are very much in your hands.
What I mean is, you can’t stop the thoughts, but you can manage what you do with the thoughts. If you feel yourself getting stuck in negative spirals of unhelpful thoughts, see if you can interrupt them/ challenge them / journal them out or move them through your body rather than letting them sweep you into a den of despair.
Show your kids what it looks like to have the thoughts but not let them dictate your mood, your behaviour or how you treat your partner.
Sing their praises in company
Is there anything sexier, than your partner saying “My wife is such an amazing woman” to a group of friends? When things are annoying us about our partner, and we want more attention and love, it is natural to become negative and bitchy in company, in the hope that your partner really gets the message. But it doesn’t work.
If you have something to say, say it in private. Instead, shift the dynamics of how safe and loved you feel with each other, by praising them in public. Praise their parenting. Praise the way you make things work as a team. Find whatever is working and share it. You never know, it may just get you the love and affection you desire.
Put each other to bed
We put our kids to bed, giving them snuggles, reading them books, telling them we love them. This sends them off to sleep with a sense of safety, and connection that puts their nervous system at ease and ensures a restful sleep. But many couples don’t do this for each other, often having very different night time routines which can create a sense of insecurity and disconnection.
My husband and I go to bed at the same time as each other. Bed is our sanctuary. It is where we have deep and meaningful conversations, repair from tension, share our intimate moments, or just simply read books together.
If you can’t go to bed at the same time, put each other to bed, as you would your kids and give yourselves the same sense of love and safety as they get.
Look into each other’s eyes
Make a point of looking into your partner’s eyes. The eyes connect us to the inner, spiritual and emotional side of our partners. The busy-ness of everyday life can get us stuck in our mental and logical minds, which is so often where our marital tension rises.
Looking into your partner’s eyes brings you back to the energetics of the attraction that you share together and reminds you that this is not a communion of logistics but of hearts and souls.
Eye contact is a way that you and your partner can connect even with the kids in the room and chaos taking place. Find your partner with your eyes amidst the chaos and you will feel so much more like you are in this together.
Repair after bust-ups
Thriving relationships are not defined by a lack of conflict, but instead by the ability to repair from conflict. You do not need to focus on avoiding tension and conflict, instead focus on repairing after conflict.
Repair involves an apology for your part in the conflict, understanding and acknowledgement for any pain caused and a request for things to be played out differently next time.
When you repair, you are showing your children the valuable lesson that relationships are valuable and full of love, even if those involved are sometimes angry and at odds with each other. Pratice this with your kids too.
I hope these relationship hacks help you navigate the tricky time of raising young children.This is part 3 of my 3 part blog post series: Relationships after kids.
Part one – Keeping love alive after baby – My top tips for new mums
Part two – Why do we stop feeling love for our partners after kids?
Part three – 10 healthy marriage hacks for parents
For more great tips on how to keep your relationship alive and thriving, check out my love list.