If you knew there was something you could do that would up-skill you and your partner to be super resilient as a team and stay very much in love, would you do it?
I spent the last week doing informal interviews with people about how their relationship intimacy had coped after becoming a family. As a sex, love and relationship coach I know all about how to make partnership work and create intimacy, but I haven’t had kids and I wanted to be sure there wasn’t anything significant I was overlooking in my aim to support these couples.
I was blown away by the generosity and honesty of the volunteers who spoke with me and humbled by their stories.
All of them told me they simply weren’t prepared for the reality of what having babies would do to their lives, even those who did ALL the courses and trainings before.
Some of them pointed out that in many cultures it is considered appropriate that the relationship of the parents takes a backseat to the role of parent and you have simply entered a new phase of life that is not all about you.
People tell me sometimes they feel the same about sex, that it isn’t that important, they can live without it.
But I believe that, given the choice, few of would opt out of love and partnership if we believed we could have them. And if we are modelling what we want for our children, there’s an extra obligation to do our best to be happy in ourselves as well as excellent at our parenting role.
So what can you do to make sure you and your partner’s relationship thrives whatever life throws at you – children, illness, caring for parents…?
Get honest. Do you want complimentary things?
Some people just want to be parents. Others want a career, some absolutely live to be a wife or husband.
Then, what do you need? Do you die inside if you haven’t had a hug for a week? Feel unloved if you can’t have quality time or good conversation? Suffocated if you don’t get alone time? It helps for your partner to know this!
It’s good to know this BEFORE things get hard, ideally.
What’s your conflict resolution style?
You might be a brilliant communicator at work but trust me, if you haven’t already noticed, it’s a completely different deal in intimate relationships. Are you able to have difficult conversations? How do you resolve arguments?
Make each other and your relationship a priority
You will know how to do this from the honest discussions you have had. Recognising that to thrive as individuals and as a couple, will take working out self care and time out for you both AND time dedicated to you as a couple.
This is about both of you taking care of one another as one part AND coming together as another. As the queen of all things couple dynamic, Esther Perel says, we need to retain separate identities and also nurture ‘us’ to keep both love and desire alive.
Intimacy is important. This is the foundation of deep connection and the feeling of safety that supports honest communication and conflict resolution. This is one where having learned a few intimacy tips and tricks before you’re exhausted really helps. But anything that makes you feel supported and connected works – cuddling, breathing together, something where you connect at a physical level for at least a few minutes – makes an amazing difference to the quality and tone of your connection.
Consciously investing in your relationship is one of the best things you can do for your happiness, your partner and your family.