There's a saying in the world of parenting that best way to bring children along with you, wherever you need to go, is to have spent some time connecting before directing. I have found that this is a philosophy that works everywhere you need help with other people. From a work space, family or friend space and yes, from a marriage space. The thing I have noticed in marriage is that after the dust has settled, and the original shine of being in those first heady years of love has worn, it can be tempting to treat your partner a little less kindly. Most usually this is when we are under pressure.
When we are under pressure, we snap, push, bark orders and roll our eyes. Our to do lists are long, our time is short, our patience thin. Truthfully, we are likely to be overwhelmed, our defense activated and we are disconnected from our people as a protective mechanism, usually to cover our feelings that are buried deep down. We have all lived in this space. We have all let our significant other bear the brunt of our not-so-caring selves.
My husband and I are no different to you. A year or so ago, we were in the depths of sleep deprivation hell. Our eyes were constantly gritty, immune systems low, and survival consisted of lurching from one sleep time for one baby, to another sleep time an hour later for a young toddler. We weren't our best selves. Both of us were dying for the other one to do something to ease the daily grind/pain that came with two babies so close together. And often we did grant kindness to each other. And almost as often, we didn't/couldn't.
What both of us learnt from that period is that when we are under (big, unrelenting) pressure we get to see the parts of us that need development. We aren't always kind, but in those moments we learn the most, so long as we are listening to ourselves.
And those moments of kindness. Well those came from our ability to take a moment and connect.
To connect before (re)directing. They softened the message, they created a moment for the two of us amidst the fug of busy-ness. They actually made our marriage better. But. To choose to connect in those moments was hard. It can take more than you think you have. In those moments where you are tempted to snap, eye roll, bark - your system is overloaded.
The truth is, you do have a choice. You have a choice in how you show up in your marriage. This is the person you chose above all others. You can do more. You can do better. I have stood in that moment and practiced connecting when I really didn't want to. But you know what? I learnt that marriage feels better when you connect. And when it feels better, life feels amazing.
How do you connect with your partner?