“Life is a crazy ride. It’s a privilege to go through it with a partner.” Kristen Bell
Sometimes when I see my husband playing with our kids or snuggling in while they read books, I find myself catch my breath. In those moments I am overcome with awe that I share human beings with someone I respect so very much. It fills me with wonder and delight that the little ones I love so much and that one person I love more than life itself, they all love one another so deeply. And I am left speechless. It absolutely astounds me and fills my soul to the very brim.
Then some mornings, our 2 year old stirs early, way too early and says “I need food DaDa” and I actually fill with rage that my husband isn’t answering our sweet little boy immediately and instead is pretending to be asleep so that I will wake on what is supposed to be “my morning”. On those mornings I don’t care one little bit that it is “my morning” to do the early wake up. I do care very much that my son is calling for his dad and I feel even more strongly it should be he that wakes up. I rationalize all of this because I am tired. I am tired and I don’t want to wake up and in those wee early mornings I am convinced I do the majority of our parenting and it’s only fair that I should sleep and my husband should wake. On those mornings I lie in bed resentful I have even agreed to this ridiculous notion of every other morning early rising when clearly I do the majority of parenting. I really believe he should wake with a giddy smile if it allows me one more minute of sleep. Thats what I tell myself those early mornings. How, even at 5 am, can you experience all the joys and all the difficulty of being married while parenting and not turn on one another? Here are 4 things to keep in mind to help you and your partner stay on the same team while parenting:
1. It’s nobodies fault, it’s the context. It’s easy to play the blame game, but it never gets anyone anywhere. Pointing fingers blocks connecting as a couple. No one is at their best and everyone could use a little mercy.
2. Communicate early and often. Part of what is challenging about remaining connected in your partner relationship while parenting is moments of self-reflection are few and far between. This can lend itself to a lot of reacting. It is easier to connect when you are vulnerable and say how you have been feeling unappreciated or ways you feel you are bearing more of the load. Then you can ask for things that you think might help. Communicate these feelings as soon as you feel them and as many times as they occur.
3. Be curious. Engage your partner with curiosity about how they are managing and how they are faring in the midst of all the ongoing transitions of parenthood. So often we forget our partner is having an experience too, or we assume we know their experience. Have you asked them how they are experiencing life? Get curious and ask some questions.
4. Be playful whenever possible. Parenting is serious, it’s keeping humans alive and ideally thriving, but also there can be so much enjoyment at the ridiculousness of it all if you will allow for some flexibility and play. What can you laugh about today as a parent and a couple?
It’s hard to remember you and your partner are a team at 5am, in fact its often a struggle to remember my own name at 5am. But even in the times parenting is hard, and it really can be so so hard, remember you are in the midst of a transition and your partner doesn’t have to be your enemy in this- they could in fact be right in there with you. After all, you are on the same team.