How to Feel Connected with Your Partner Now You Have Kids
- Parents Only
By: Megan Tuohey, Relationship Psychologist
Have you ever scrolled through social media pages and seen a couple around your age and stage, who are laughing and having fun? Then have you thought to yourself ‘that’s not what my marriage feels like anymore’. And you remember that it used to feel like a place of love and support. Where you could go to rest and recover. Where you felt completely accepted and valued. And now, well it’s not the worst, you’re doing ok. But it’s not the best?
I know I have felt like that. It’s particularly hard when you have a young family where your kids don’t sleep so well, or your older kids need extra support or you to drive them to their activities. There’s just no time together. And when you do have time together, well it just feels hollow. You’re exhausted. He’s exhausted. You watch some Netflix together, and you scroll on your phone at the same time. Together but apart. You’re getting lonelier and lonelier and you can feel the distance. Couples who are overrun by stress and fail to talk about it with each other see their level of emotional attraction drop (which leads to a decrease in sex and intimacy), and their relationships suffer.
Together Yet Apart
A marriage in this state of stress is incredibly common, particularly when you are in your 30’s and 40’s. Where you are still very much in ‘build’ phase. You need to build a home, a family, a career, a retirement plan, a community to belong to. On one hand you are both working super well as a team, you’re hitting your goals! On the other, there’s nothing in left in the tank that is allocated to you or your partner. The good news is that there are simple ways to reconnect whilst you are in the trenches of parenthood and the ‘build’ stage of life.
Here is an EASY way you can start to rebuild this oh-so-important connection. The first step is all about when you reunite. When you see your partner again at the end of the day, share a hug and a kiss that lasts at *least* six seconds. The six-second kiss is a ritual of connection that is worth coming home to. Afterwards, have a stress-reducing conversation for at least 20 minutes.
What is a ‘stress-reducing’ conversation? Well it’s about debriefing your day, and only talking about stress *outside* your relationship. This is NOT the time to discuss areas of conflict between the two of you, or point fingers of blame. It’s also not the time to instruct your partner on how to fix the problems they’re facing. It’s an opportunity to support each other emotionally regarding other areas in your lives. Always remember: First seek to understand, then and only then, offer advice.
I know these conversations don’t centre on your relationship, BUT they will directly improve it. They allow you to connect on an intimate level. How? Emotional attraction (and therefore the beginnings of sexual attraction) grows when you feel your partner is in your corner. When they are listening to you and wanting to know about your day. They are respecting you, accepting your perspective and expressing genuine care. This act of communication is a hallmark of a relationship that is thriving.
How do you connect with your partner?
About Megan: Megan is a Relationship Psychologist who specialises in women. She focuses particularly on the relationship you have with yourself, your partner, your kids. When she’s not writing, you will find her working in her online coaching business for women, reading or playing with her kids and high-fiving her hubby for another excellent day. You can read more of her work at http://megantuohey.com