When you first got together with your partner he was the centre of your universe, your world revolved around him and you never thought it would be any other way. Maybe you even vowed “for better and for worse” to each other.
Then you became parents.
And suddenly you were responsible for this tiny bundle that depended on you for its every need. It was exhausting and exhilarating and exciting and stressful and happy and lonely and wonderful and so much more, all at the same time.
Your relationship got a bit overlooked while you recovered from 9 months of growing a baby, getting them safely into this world and looking after them 24/7.
The baby became a toddler. The toddler a child. And they kept coming first.
Date nights got cancelled because the babysitter bailed at the last minute.
Cosying up in bed just the two of you evolved to sharing with fidgeting munchkins.
Being a “good mum” became vitally important.
Time was spent creating costumes for World Book Day, planning the school summer fair, making cakes for the bake sale, listening to reading, helping with / doing homework. Not to mention all the extra washing, ironing, cooking, shopping, cleaning and more that comes with having little people living with you.
If you had any time left at the end of all that then it was allocated to sleep not one-on-one time with your other half.
Little by little your relationship slipped from top priority to “I don’t have time!”.
And suddenly your parenting became more important than your relationshipping.
This is a story I hear over and over from readers, clients and members of my Love Your Life Club.
You still love your husband / partner so so much. But you’re just too tired to show him right now. You’ll put in the effort when you’re on holiday. When it’s his birthday or your anniversary. Failing that when the kids are a bit older and you finally have some time!
Just not today. Because today there is too much to do, and you’re so so tired.
I have seen relationships killed by mums (and dads) spending all the time parenting over and over again. Sometimes the parent wakes up before it’s too late, but sadly there are times when the relationship dies a slow death and there is nothing to do to revive it.
I feel incredibly lucky because around the time Ben and I got married (which was very early on in our relationship) we were given a book called The Sixty Minute Marriage by Rob Parsons and that book shaped and continues to shape our relationship and our parenting.
It is a must read for anyone in a relationship, and especially those parents in a relationship (married or not).
Our biggest takeaway from the book was that you would never regret spending too much time at work, but that you would probably regret spending not enough time with your other half.
And that you would be a better parent if you spent time away from your children on date nights out or romantic weekends away, than if you were to spend all your time with your kids.
Also your children would far rather have happy parents who are together than unhappy parents who are together or parents who are separated.
We read The Sixty Minute Marriage when we were still in the middle of our honeymoon phase, kids were still a long way off and we couldn’t imagine ever feeling anything other than crazy love for each other.
So we laughed a bit at the advice, to 27 year old me it sounded so obvious. Of course I was going to spend as much time as possible with the love of my life, and not spend extra hours at work or give up one-on-one time to be with a wailing child.
Oh the ignorance of youth and inexperience!
As time went on Ben and I had promotions at work that demanded more of our time. We started a family and our feelings changed about babies and kids.
But luckily, oh so luckily, we had this book in our possession and in our minds and thoughts.
We scheduled weekly date nights into our calendar, and stuck to them even when we had no money or time. It’s amazing how creative you can be when need be!
After 2 years of parenting we managed a child-free holiday which was the hardest and the best thing I’ve ever done at the same time.
Ben and I have now been together for over 15 years and parents for 10 of those years. We still love each other but also drive each other crazy in equal amounts.
He is still the number one person I want to spend time with. He makes me laugh and we have such interesting and diverse discussions, I could chat to him for hours on end without getting bored. Or sit and read alongside him in companionable silence.
Because we have paid close attention to the idea that our relationship is more important than our kids.
My mum used to say to me that children are only lent to you for a period of time. I know that there will come a time that my kids will leave home and that is great. But I want to make sure that the incredible relationship that I had with my best friend and soulmate in my 20s is still there in my 50s, 60s and beyond.
So our kids come second to our relationship.
We have weekly date nights – at home or out, it doesn’t matter which. It is one-on-one time for us to be together, just the two of us.
We try and go on yearly holidays without our kids (I say try as we don’t always manage it, but we have done 5 child-free holidays in 10 years of parenting which isn’t too bad).
And our kids grow up seeing us interact as Sophie and Ben, not just Mum and Dad. They see us being affectionate with each other (I’m a big hugger and kisser with all my family). Our girls have understood from a young age that we do things without them, and it doesn’t mean that we love them any less, just that we respect our relationship and our marriage and want to keep it alive and healthy.
Now don’t get me wrong, we are no Pinterest-perfect couple. We shout at each other and argue and piss each other off. But we prioritise our relationship and work at it, putting it above everything else.
Because you know what? I vowed “till death do us part” not “till I am too tired from parenting and drift apart from you do us part”.
Over to you now lovely, if you’re in a relationship don’t forget to put that first and tell your loved one how you feel today.
If you’re feeling too exhausted, too sick and fed up or too meh about life in general to even consider working on your relationship then grab my 10 day guide to falling (back) in love with your life here.
It’s already helped numerous women, like you, to make little changes to be happier in their everyday.
P.S. if you found this blog post helpful don’t hesitate to share it and help others today 🙂
Photo by London Scout on Unsplash
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