As we know, being a parent is a full time job and doesn’t leave room for very much else. Most couples struggle with adjusting to the new roles and often they forget how to be a couple. In fact, research shows that many couples become distant and disconnected when starting a family and really struggle to juggle having a relationship as well as being good parents. As with most things, if you want your relationship to function then it needs some good old maintenance and with a little effort you will find that you can be both – a partner in a healthy relationship and a good parent.
Shaking off the parent role
Parenting is all consuming and new parents often lose part of their previous identities when they start out as parents. Women lose the high heels, ditch the makeup and opt for more practical attire. Men might stop exercising or keeping with healthy lifestyle. Both parents might focus so much on the new born that they don’t maintain any of their regular routine – social life, hobbies etc. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship as a couple, you need to shake off the parent role every now and then and return to your former role as a sensual partner. You need to be able to see yourself as more than just a mom or dad and relate to one another as you have done in the past. Of course the dynamic changes between you, but it is important that you don’t lose sight of your selves and remain connected.
How do we stay connected?
Children are demanding and require a lot of attention. It is very easy to focus only on the kids and forget about one another. The next thing you know there are awkward silences between you and you aren’t sure how to connect anymore, unless it is over or about the kids.
Distinguish between adult time and children time: In other words make sure that the kids are in bed by a reasonable hour so that you have some ‘adult time’ with one another. Not only is it healthy for children to have consistent early bed times, but it helps give you some much needed time out too.
Have regular date nights: change your routine one night of the week and do something different. If watching T.V. is your usual weeknight routine, mix it up and have dinner outside or a picnic on your lounge floor. You do not always need to go out to have a date night. Make it about spending quality time and doing something different with each other.
Make time to just talk: Being busy means little time to talk about your everyday experiences, your hopes, dreams and even your worries. Make sure you have time to talk to your partner about these things and let them into your emotional world.
Get a hobby or personal interest: find something other than being a parent to spend some time doing, especially if you are a stay-at-home parent. Whether you enjoy scrapbooking, going for a run, fishing or simply enjoying book club make sure that you make time to pursue an interest. Not only is it good for you to get some time out, but it also gives you something else to talk about – something other than kids, kids, kids.
Enjoy your social life: Aside from being parents you are also a couple with friends and family. Make sure that you get out and socialize with others reminding you that you are more than just parents. If at all possible, leave the kids with a babysitter every now and again and enjoy a little adult socializing.
Get physically intimate: This is a big one and many couples feel that their sex lives have taken a dive since the kids came along. Yes, you are tired. Yes, the kids are in the next bedroom. But you need to connect physically and intimately, so make the time for this. Don’t leave off being intimate till your next annual vacation, or when the children get to stay over at your mother’s place.
Becoming parents requires a whole new set of skills and mastery. You will learn new things about yourself as well as your partner and the relationship between you will naturally expand and evolve. It is important that you make space in your relationship for these changes to occur and allow your partner the room to grow. Learn from one another where you can and show appreciation for the positive attributes you see develop in your partner. Showing appreciation is a powerful tool in maintaining relationships and in this case will encourage you to grow together.