When our children are gone, what will we have left? This question has taunted couples as they watch their children’s steadfast growth throughout the years. It goes by so quickly, and - yet - when we are in the midst of it - that becomes all we know.
Parenthood brings on a consumption that individuals and couples have never experienced before. The responsibility of caring for a child - or for children - becomes the primary focus of a relationship. It becomes the top priority, and - often times - other priorities (such as the marriage relationship) are neglected.
Children’s needs are never-ending and constantly changing throughout their development. It takes a lot of time, energy, and devotion to keep up. Setting aside time as a couple entails more than a weekly date night (although that certainly helps). Here are five suggestions:
Engage in conversation. Talk beyond the issues your children are facing and the family’s schedule for the following day. Real conversations are essential for staying connected. Share stories of your day with each other. Dream and set goals together. Continue to get to know each other throughout the years.
Do not avoid conflict. Often times the difficult conversations are the ones we set aside. Parenthood easily becomes a distraction for these challenging moments, but they should be faced and faced in a gentle and loving manner.
Become self-aware. The longer we are in a relationship, the more likely we are to develop habits of reaction. Get to know yourself. Pay attention. When your partner does “x”, why does it anger you? What does it trigger? Watch your emotions, behaviors, and attitudes. Share your insights. Don’t fear vulnerability. In order to help your partner know who you are and what you need, you must first know yourself.
Maintain a physical connection. By the end of the day, most of us are so tired that the only thing on our mind is sleep. Make a conscious effort to keep your physical relationship fueled. Whether it’s a simple touch or a more intimate encounter, staying physically connected is as important as staying emotionally connected.
Express your love. Express your love even when you are not feeling it. Do something loving for your partner. Leave a love note in his brief case. Make him lunch. A quick call to say I love you. A small gesture goes a long way.
Set the stage now for when your children have grown and moved on from your home. Make a conscious effort to keep your partnership strong and connected.