Have you hit the point where you need to ban baby-talk on date night? Read on.
Everyone told you your relationship with your partner would change once you had kids, but it’s hard to prepare for just how much it changes.
Neither of you are different people – you’re the same people in very different, often very trying circumstances.
Each day can be a slog and by the time the kid is down and you’ve had dinner and slumped onto the couch, neither of you has anything left in the tank to do that basic thing that your relationship was built on: communicating.
We all face the same problem. We all know it’s a problem but there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix.
So how do you reinvigorate your chat life with your other half when time and energy are sparse, and your only mutual topic of interest seems to be your child?
Firstly, we’ve talked often on this site about the importance of making room for date nights and any other opportunities you can find to spend quality time with your partner, alone.
You know how hard it is to get precious time away from the little one(s), so once you’ve secured some, don’t then spend the whole date talking about them.
Declare a ban on all baby talk (as in, talk that is about your baby. If your kink is to talk to each other like babies then knock yourselves out) during your designated date times.
Or, if you can’t resist – then have a time limit. Fifteen minutes to talk about the kid then move on to other topics.
The other thing to avoid is slipping into life admin conversations.
You probably have a list of things you need to sort out with your partner but you never get the chance to sit down and lay plans, discuss bill payments and other logistical issues.
These conversations are necessary but boring. Allocate separate times to have them, and don’t let them encroach onto your relationship time.
My wife and I get most of our life admin sorted when I’m driving her to work in the mornings – there may be certain times that suit you to get that stuff out of the way.
You may well find that beyond admin and child chat, conversation starts to falter. It’s not surprising, really.
Your whole life seems to revolve around this little sprog, so when it’s time to talk about something different, it can tend to feel like there’s not a lot else happening.
So, you’ve both agreed to avoid talking about you know who, and now you’re staring at each other blankly. You’ve forgotten the basic art of conversation, so here are some topics to get you started.
Work is the obvious one. Make sure this is not your ONLY topic of conversation outside your kids, but it sure is cathartic to talk to someone about all the shitty parts of your work day or your lunatic colleagues.
“Tell me about your day,” is a good conversation starter that doesn’t require much brain power from either of you and helps you stay in touch with each other’s lives.
Gossip. One of the big difficulties after having kids is it’s very easy to get cut off from most of your friends and casual acquaintances.
It becomes so hard to organise anything in the small windows of time you have free that you can end up going for weeks living in your own little bubble of work and home.
It’s still fun to chat about the people you know, though, and piece together what they are up to.
If they aren’t heavy social media users, then feel free to speculate as to how their lives are going.
The best part about this idle gossip is that you’ll probably end up by saying, “You know we really should make an effort to catch up with them.”
And the more you get out and about with friends, the more you’ll have to psychoanalyse with your partner later on.
It’s vital to keep talking about your future plans. Whether it’s your next big trip or the stuff you want to achieve outside of work, keep the flame alive by mulling it over with your partner.
Your lives become so focused and narrow when you’ve got small kids that it can be a massive relief to step outside that and think about a time when you will have more freedom to be yourself again.
Talk about the books, movies, TV series or podcasts you’re currently enjoying, either as a couple of individually.
This may seem a little superficial but it’s important to have those adult conversations when so much of your time is spent talking about Emma Wiggle or what sounds animals make.
Similarly, chat about what’s happening in the news – the state of the world.
You’re most likely with your partner because they have a similar outlook on life to you, and your relationship flourished in the early days when you found you had complementary world views.
Delve into all that stuff again and it will be a welcome reminder that you guys actually get along really well when you’re not arguing about whose turn it is to change a nappy.
All of those possible conversation topics might seem pretty simple and obvious … that’s because they are.
The point is you’ve got to rediscover that ability to talk about all those things you used to talk about before you became mutually obsessed by old mate.
If it’s the end of the day and you’re both slaughtered and just can’t be bothered to make small talk, then you don’t have to feel guilty about plonking on Netflix – as long as you do still find those moments once a week or once a fortnight when it becomes about you guys and your relationship again.
It will help keep the romance alive in what sometimes seems like a barren wasteland for romance, and it will also make you feel much better about yourself when you remember you’re an adult human being again, with opinions and stuff. So get chatting!
READ MORE FROM DAN COLASIMONE:
- How a baby will change all the relationships in your life
- Stuffing up is part of being a dad, so let’s talk about it
- As a new dad you have to learn quickly – it’s no longer about you