When we grow our families and add a child or children to our comfortable life as a couple, it's easy to make them the center of our world. But it's just as important to continue to nurture your relationship with your partner. Here are some useful tips from Brandi Tarver, LPC, LMFT, Certified Gottman Therapist, and Fit4Mom Clear Lake member.
1. Continue to date. You were not always mom and dad and it’s important to remember that. Finding time to spend away from the children to stay connected is important. Go out and discover new places/activities that you can enjoy together.
2. Talk! With all the technology we have today, it’s so easy to get swept up in the cyber world. It’s important to sit down with each other daily and talk about the stressors and events outside of your relationship. This helps each partner feel understood and important. Some people say, “I don’t want to bring home my stress.” Well, the reality is you still do. At least sharing what went on will help your partner be more empathetic to your experience.
3. Show appreciation towards one another. This is important with our spouses and our children. Take time to point out what is happening that you truly appreciate. It will make your partner/kids want to do more of that for you. When we focus on the negative, we’re setting others up for failure. Constructive criticism doesn’t exist. In fact, it makes people make more mistakes. Go for positive reinforcement.
4. Bring up complaints softly. If you are thinking it, say it, but in a soft manner. When we criticize and approach a situation harshly, we shut down communication. We have a need to share, yet we do so in a way that actually makes it almost impossible for our partner to hear us. Instead of saying, “You never do anything around here to help me.” Try saying, “I’m so exhausted from being up with the baby all night. The house is a disaster and I’m stressed. Would you please mind helping me pick it up so that we can both relax?”
5. Accept influence from your spouse. This means that you need to recognize that both of you are right when you share your perspectives. Try and take a step out of yourself and see things from his/her point of view. Then, validate it. Being able to say that you see where your partner is coming from and that his/her perspective makes sense will go a long way. That doesn’t mean that you now have to share his/her perspective. It just means that you see validity in what he/she said.
Brandi Tarver is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Gottman Therapist. She has a private practice in Friendswood. She also teaches Bringing Baby Home. This is a workshop aimed at giving couples the tools to have a successful relationship upon becoming parents. For more information visit Brandi Tarver, MA, LPC, LMFT or find her on Facebook.