How to Improve Your Relationship
By Couples Mediator Maria Arpa
Once a couple have children there is a lot of focus on their wellbeing. Whilst this is obviously a responsibility of being a parent, it is important to ensure that your parenting role does not diminish your relationship with your partner.
Maintaining your relationship requires consideration and it is all too common a trap to place all your attention on the children only to discover that your relationship has become fragile. Relationships are kept alive through dialogue. Knowing what to discuss is really important. If you are continuously having the same argument, you need to understand the underlying issues are so that you can re-connect to each other.
Here are some areas of dialogue that create points of mutual understanding.
Decision Making Processes
Children create a new dynamic. Whereas it was just the two of you, now there are other voices to consider in family decision making. Having more parties to a decision gives plenty more scope for conflict. As the adults, you need to decide what the decision making process is in your family and how the children can influence it? Children are experts as finding flaws in family dynamics and exposing them. For example; having a tantrum can often get past a 'no' with one parent whilst the other parent feels undermined.
Tiredness and Rest
Family life is incredibly demanding these days. It's important to discuss how tired you both are and how you will support each other to get some rest. When you are tired, your tolerance levels decrease and so does your ability to see the world in a calm, non-threatening way. Many couples engage in a tiredness competition using arguments to prove that they are the most tired. If you both truly cannot give each other support to get rest then you may need to consider what help is available. If one or both of you is exhausted, the situation will not improve without a plan.
Expressions of Love
It is easy to slip into a routine which excludes expressions of love. Relationships can become starved of loving care and the longer it lasts the harder it is to recover. It's important to understand what an expression of love is for your partner. You may believe that you can say it with flowers but your partner may prefer a shoulder rub. Discovering what you both like is a really important discussion.
Sex and Recreation
Whilst children are a wonderful gift (if it doesn't feel like it refer to the point about tiredness). It is important to have some private time. Many couples snatch a bit of sex here and there to keep a thread going and if this is the best you can manage day to day then you need to talk about it. There are no rules about what is right. It may be that you simply need to acknowledge that the sex isn't as good as it could be and plan for a time when you will address it. Or it may be that you can both book a day off work and sneak off somewhere special.
Environment and Comfort
Having children affects your home. It is worth discussing what adjustments you have made to accommodate the children and how that has affected your comfort levels. Feeling uncomfortable in the home has an enormous impact on our ability to give to each other. If the living room you so lovingly furnished together has now become an obstacle course of brightly coloured plastic toys, it's worth acknowledging how that feels and whether you can live with it or need to rethink.
This article was written by Maria Arpa. Maria offers counselling for couples and individuals. To find out more visit her website at: www.mariaarpa.co.uk