The demands of a young family are many. We have less time, money and more stress, chores and demands placed on us, from all angles. Becoming a parent is a major milestone. A landmark that requires us to grow into being more selfless, and less self-orientated. We are growing into adulthood, into parenthood. There are all the feelings during this time. Profound love, gratitude, joy, heartache, pain, the undoing of an old life and the creation of a new.
This is what we are built for, yet the stretch into the 'new world' is unprecedented for most of us.
You know what it feels like in your relationship when you have young children. You often trade time from your own buckets into where it is needed most, the children/home/laundry/netflix and wine.... The trouble for our own relationship, the one with the person we share the load of parenting with, is that we can put that relationship second/third/fourth/bottom. Like any peak and stressful times, our relationship can handle that deprioritisation, for awhile. But not for long periods of time.
The thing about our significant other, is the relationship is interconnected with our own experience of life. So if we aren't feeling connected, supported and loved within that relationship, the rest of our life is often tarnished with the same feelings. In other words, if we don't feel good at home, with our loved one, we don't feel so good out in the world living our life.
In a relationship, we solicit each others approval and support. We react to each others needs, expectations and upsets. This connectedness and reactivity make the functioning of a couple interdependent. So a change in one person's functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of the other. Of course couples differ somewhat in their interdependentness, but it is always present to some degree.
When parents of young families are overwhelmed, anxious or worried - all of which happens easily when you are in a new role (being a parent) during a huge life transition (becoming an adult/leader of a family) - they tend to seek comfort and support from their partner. Usually this partner is under similar stresses and stretches and who often does not have enough fuel in the tank to respond in a way that the other needs. This leads to a fracture in the relationship which sows the seed of disconnection.
Disconnection has the power to rapidly decrease feelings of contentment. Often replacing contentment with increased anxiety, stress, sadness, isolation. Which of course, feels terrible.
The answer is to prioritise our relationship with our special person. To make a commitment to build in connection time to refill those relationship buckets. Where that time is non negotiable. It doesn't get deprioritised, rescheduled or bumped. Remember my last post about cuddles and how restorative they are for us, well they also bring huge amounts of connection. 4 hugs a day to survive, 8 to maintain, and 12 to thrive.
How do you stay connected with your special one?