When life gets busy and we have kids, it is easy to put our marriage on the back burner. Basic needs such as time alone, time together or sleep often go unmet. When stress hits, we can easily fall into negative patterns, then we try to figure out why our relationship has problems. When we do this, we often come up with theories that cause more harm. “He doesn’t care for me or listen to my feelings.” Or “She doesn’t appreciate everything I do; she’s always complaining.”
We create more separation when we blame our partner and see them as the cause of our unhappiness. While we are wired for relationships, we are also wired to see problems and protect ourselves. When this happens, we lose our ability to care for each other. It is hard to feel empathy and curiosity about our partner’s pain if we are in the limbic ditch of fight, flight or freeze.
To help our relationship not only survive these busy years but thrive, we need to gather in knowledge. The first step is to believe that this is important otherwise we are going to put our focus on anything but our relationship; kids, work, other people or hobbies.
Even when you have young kids, you can make your marriage a priority. Just as children have a need for a secure attachment, so do adults. Being seen, soothed, supported and safe represents the needs of all people, not just children.
What to do:
• Have a greeting ritual. The moment your partner walks in the front door, go and greet him or her. Even if you have children clinging to your legs; do it! Hug each other until you feel each other’s heartbeat and have a few seconds of eye contact.
•Learn what your partner wants from you when it comes to comfort and care.
•Ask for what you want. Your partner is not a mind reader.
• Create rituals, easy ones that you can do every day, even when you don’t feel like it.
•Never let your partner become a third wheel to anyone or anything.
• Conflict is inevitable, the most important part of the harmony/disharmony dance is repair. Talk it out and resolve the issues as soon as you are calm enough to do so.
Focusing on your behaviour and what you can do to contribute is the work of a loving adult.