Having a successful relationship with your partner helps you both be more effective parents. Here are some tips for building that relationship.
- Be a team: We often hear “there’s no /i/ in team.” This is never more true than in building a spousal relationship. If one of you has an issue, it is a problem for both of you. Be sure to validate your spouses concerns, and work on a solution together. Invalidating feeings can lead to anger, disappointment and resentment.
- Listen: Everyone wants to be listened to. Listening to your spouse and feeling that your spouse has really heard you, will make a positive impact on your relationship. Effective listeners face the speaker, ignore or get rid of other distractions, make eye contact, keep an open mind, repeat back what they have heard, and respond appropropriately. Give it a try!
- Take care of each other: In the same way we teach children to make their needs known, adults need to learn to express themselves. Last I heard, mind-reading was a myth. Tell your spouse what feels good for you and what doesn’t. True understanding of each other’s needs will bring an added level of intimacy to your relationship.
- Remember that we all fight: A wise woman once told me “it’s not about whether you fight, cause we all fight, it’s about how you resolve conflict.” Reflect on the way you and your spouse resolve conflict. Is it working? What do you do with your anger? How do you let it go or move beyond it? How does your spouse? Do the two styles mesh? When discussing discipline and difficult situations with children, I remind parents that reconnecting is essential. Reconnecting with a spouse after conflict is just as important. You always love them even if you don’t like their behavior.
- If you need help, ask for it: This idea starts with asking for help from each other. If you are feeling challenged by a particular situation with the children or in your daily life, ask your spouse for help. When you have reached a point where you are having repeated difficulty resolving issues with your spouse and managing your relationship, go to a professional for help. That’s what we’re here for!
Overall, try to have realistic expectations. The transition from being a single person, to a partnership, to a family, is a huge one! Relationships are something you are always working at. Reflection is an important piece of the equation. As your relationship grows and evolves, re-evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Then make changes. You can do this! You, your spouse, your family, and your children, will reap the benefits.
empowered parents, happy families.