When children are born, the one relationship that was the center of our existence gets pushed aside to make space for the little souls who actually depend on us for their survival.
The kids require all of our being committed and present, and it is of such whirl-winding intensity, it leaves almost no resources for others.
At the steepest depth of my valley, I was so drained by the basic daily caring for my kids; I couldn’t find any space to even enjoy my own company, let alone to nurture the relationship with my partner.
And while I had to tend to reclaim my energy first, it came a time when my marriage required a plan of action. When we met again, we were bitter and tired, each comfortably nested into victimhood. Things had to change so we can thrive and be a stronger family.
The time factor is always the first excuse for couples:
We don’t have time for each other.
We are no longer each other’s priority.
Time is what we choose to spend it on.
I just chose not to spend it with my husband and gift it instead to my Instagram feed or the book I was reading.
So here is how I changed my mind about all of it:
I stopped waiting for him to do something
Decision making so drains many of us that at the end of the day, the last thing we want to do is decide on more things. I somehow always believed that my husband could read my mind without me having to verbalize it. When he didn’t (!), I was disappointed.
Instead of waiting for him to take charge, I took responsibility and initiated the closeness and conversation.
Soak in honey
A long time ago, when I was training in people-management, I learned the golden rule of performance feedback.
To be efficient and obtain results when you tell somebody how they’re doing, you always start with praise. Tell people what they’re doing good, and how proud you are of them. Then bring up in simple words, the area they need to address and how you expect them to do it. Spend the least amount of time discussing this.
End the conversation with more praise and more positive reinforcement.
I was acing this approach at work, but at home, there was nagging and bitter interaction.
I made it my commitment to praise and express gratitude for what my partner did, even when I perceived it to be insufficient.
Talk about MY day
Not work, kids, household, but about me. This kind of communication didn’t come naturally, so I had to learn to speak more clearly, in shorter sentences and say things like:
When THIS happened, THIS is how I felt.
Ask your partner the questions they never get to hear. I always used to ask How was your day? which weirdly enough didn’t trigger almost any inspirational response.
These days I ask things like:
What made you excited today?
Who did you sit next to at lunch and what did you talk about?
What’s the weirdest thing that happened today?
Babies thrive when they feel loved, and they feel love by physical closeness. Grown people are not much different.
Get closer to your partner and hold hands, hug, play with his hair or ear, touch toes, rub his back and feel instantly more connected.
I know it is not always easy to reconnect, especially when it’s been a long time since you felt close, but if we’re just passively waiting for the other person to do something to change the conversation or the atmosphere, we are setting ourselves up for potential disappointment.
Instead, I invite you to make the smallest effort today to make your partner feel loved, appreciated and seen. And the miraculous effect of that is that you will feel loved, appreciated and seen in return.