Keep your love alive. Prioritize your partnership.

Each year February hosts Valentine’s Day, and despite the Hallmark cringe factor of this day that irks so many of us, this winter holiday and the month of February serves as an invitation to put some attention on your partnership. And as parents, when we do this, we often realize that we have admittedly drifted into efficiency over connection, productivity over romance, and generally a habit of doing over being when it comes to our relationship. 

Let’s be honest.  Getting shit done is seductive. There’s even a high that’s drenched in pride that I’m sure we have all felt with a checked off to-do list in our hands. 

But, when the dishwasher is unloaded, laundry folded, lunches packed, meetings had and money made, maybe you’ve also noticed that all of the items crossed off on the list can somehow seem utterly meaningless if the love stock with our beloved person has plummeted.  

It is essential to the efficacy and health of our parenting, our family, and ourselves that our relationship be well-tended.  That our connection with our person be intact. Everyone in the family benefits from this and it has the potential to be the solid foundation that we stand on.  

So, a few things to keep in mind to support your connection with your partner: 

  • Don’t be seduced into the lie that you’re “too busy” to accept your partner’s offer for connection. If you always prioritize business, logistics, and tasks, you can become really great business partners with everything having the tone of efficiency and smooth operations, yet this same productivity can cause a slow erosion of your connection and a growing distance with your partner that can become harder to bridge.

  • When you are reaching out to your partner for connection, make it explicit.  Say, “This is me, here with you, wanting to spend time with you.”  Or, “This is me, trying to see you not just as a mama, but as a woman.”  There are a lot of silent bids for connection that get quietly rejected.  Even though it may seem silly, speak them out loud and spell out your intent to connect with your partner.  We often need to be woken up out of this trance of productivity.

  •  Make specific times each week to meet about logistics and tasks so that they don’t infiltrate the moments when you are trying to connect. Be thoughtful about when you schedule this so that it makes sense for energy levels, childcare hours, and other family needs. 

  • Make specific times each week to spend quality time together.  Even 5-10 minutes can do wonders. Start small. Set yourself up for success.  See if there are agreements you’d like to make that would protect your quality time against the infiltrating seduction of productivity! (i.e. phones off, boundaries around work and/or talking about logistics, etc). 

  • Teach your kids not to interrupt.  Train them to tap and wait. When you’re in a conversation with your partner and you’re interrupted, stay with your partner.  This is a beautiful way to let them know that they are a priority. 

Make conscious choices to prioritize your partner over your children - not in every moment but in some moments. This is the salve to stay together.

May your love grow!

Polly Ely, MFTComment