Want to beat the stats and thrive in your relationship after having kids? It takes effort.
It was a strange moment. I was in the shower without the kids and I found myself totally lost in thought.
“How did we get like this?” I kept asking myself. “Will our relationship ever be the same again?”
It’s a confronting way to think about your relationship with your partner after kids, but plenty of us have these moments and have no idea what to think.
The fact is it’s totally OK to think or feel this way, and our partners have probably done the same thing at some point. So how does this happen?
The parent trap
I’m not talking about the 90’s movie, I’m talking about just being parents all the time and forgetting about each other. It’s one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced.
Get this, during our pregnancy consultation for our second child, the first thing the doctor spoke about was stats around how divorce rates increase after the second child is born. Seriously!? What a confidence booster.
Naturally, I was straight onto Google and, to my disbelief, the doctor was right. There’s stacks of research and forums that talk about the downfall of a relationship after your second child is born.
Fast forward a few months and I can honestly tell you that the threat of just ‘being parents’ is very real.
The biggest change we’ve noticed is around intimacy, and that’s not by choice. We genuinely try and make time for each other but it’s inevitable that at some point our kids are going to take over whatever moment we’re in.
Try kissing your partner while your kid is crying and you’ll know what I’m talking about. We know we love each other, but we’re kidding ourselves if we said this didn’t make us feel disconnected at times.
The daily grind
There’s no specific point in the early stages of your kids lives that’s harder on your relationship than another, it’s all the same.
Once we got past a milestone or hurdle we just ended up back in what felt like a daily grind. I can hear my mum in the background saying “that’s just parenthood”.
The key to getting through this period successfully for us was (and still is) preparation and communication.
Sounds cheesy, but how many arguments or moments of tension can you recall that were caused by decisions being made (or not made) without talking with your partner? Communicate.
How do you beat the stats?
Get a babysitter once a month
Whether it’s grandparents, family, friends or someone else, spend some time away from your kids and enjoy your partner’s company.
Give them a kiss, hold their hand, have a laugh and take some clothes off if you can.
But seriously, whether it’s going to see a movie or spending a night away, it’s SUPER important that you stay connected with your partner as this will have both an emotional and physical impact on your relationship.
Talk about your parenting styles
I touched on it before but decision making or non-decision making around kids has often led to the most tension in our relationship.
It’d be great to think that both of us are always on the same page, however, truth is that we’re not.
My advice is to both write down the following and then compare:
● 3 x values you want your kids to have
● 3 x lessons you want to teach them
● 3 x things you’d do differently to your parents
Just talk to each other
The absolute worst thing you can do is not talk about what you’re thinking or feeling.
It sounds so simple, but I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve let my partners thoughts or feelings trump mine, even if it was to my detriment.
So put the kids to bed and just start talking to your partner, remembering that they are in fact your partner and not some deadly monster ready to kill you at a moments notice (unless its 4am and you’ve forgotten to take the bins out again).
So, will our relationship ever be the same again?
Short answer is probably not, it’s going to be completely different, but for the absolute better.
The single best piece of advice I learnt, and would give to any dad, is to just go with the flow. It’s so important that we stay connected with our partners over the next few years, both emotionally and physically.
We need to talk to them, touch them, kiss them, do something that makes us feel connected with them. You’ll thank me next time you’re in the shower lost in thought.
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- How a baby will change all the relationships in your life