I read a lot of books when I was pregnant and even more once my babies were born. I sought advice on everything and from everyone. Now my kids are a little older I’ve discovered that all those seemingly big problems of babyhood will come and go all too soon. However I’ve come to realise that there’s one area of my life I’ve neglected to maintain – my relationship.
And here we are. Lack of sleep, frazzled tempers and a severe shortage of time seem to leave nothing left in the tank for Mum and Dad (formerly known as Cassy and Henry). But there is a dim light at the end of the tunnel and I look forward to getting reacquainted with the guy who would make my tummy go funny and inspire me to shave my legs on a daily basis.
My husband and I aren’t the only couple in this boat though. Statistics show that 50% of couples who divorce will have children under 18. So as part research for this article and part self-help I consulted psychologist Dr Carla of Here and Now Health for advice on how to child-proof your (my)marriage.
Spend time together Sounds simple enough doesn’t it, but it’s often easier said than done. Most nights when the kids finally go to bed, I often only have enough energy left to eat a couple of Tim Tams and zone out on the telly. Dr Carla says it’s the quality of the time you’re spending together that’s important and this doesn’t mean expensive dinners and fancy nights out. “A walk along the beach or a quick coffee at your local café can be enough to reconnect as a couple,” she advises. If not having a babysitter is a problem, consider getting together with other families for a kid-swap roster. “It’s easy to think of a stack of excuses why you can’t leave your children, but by making you and your marriage a priority again you’re effectively breathing new life into your relationship,” she says.
Communicate Differences in expectations when it comes to parenting can be the undoing for many couples. The beliefs we have regarding the role of mother and father are instilled in us often unconsciously from our childhood, and simple decisions can be fraught with conflict.
Dr Carla recommends parents open up the lines of communication before baby is even born and get clear on each other’s expectations and opinions. It’s never too late to troubleshoot these kiddie conundrums either. Yeah sure you may have clashed heads on whether to circumcise or not but there’s still time to negotiate the raft of other parenting problems you’ll have to solve.
Get physical You’ve “had a headache” for so long now that he’s given up on trying and you’ve given up on caring. Sleep deprivation and every day stresses can put a limp in any libido, but maintaining that physical connection is essential in any relationship. Here are Dr Carla’s tips to get that fire burning again:
Nurture yourself You’ve heard it a hundred times, but before you can love anyone else you need to love yourself. Dedicate a few hours each week just for you. Whether it’s to sweat it out at the gym, catch up with a girlfriend or to reconnect with an old hobby, this much deserved time is so important.
What’s your secret to keeping the flame burning in your relationship?