This past weekend it was my fourth anniversary. Steve and I had two weddings and we celebrate them both because both occasions were so meaningful to our lives and it's another excuse to eat a beautiful meal (I even managed to make a chai cake while he was out with the kids for a little while).
I also think it is important, at least for us, to have these moments to reflect on our lives in one another's orbit especially after having children because there are some days when we get to spend about five minutes together total all day and we use it to figure out the logistics of the next day.
Sometimes I feel like I won the lottery when I married Steve. He is a kind, fun, intelligent and supportive partner and an engaged loving parent too.
Our relationship works but not just because Steve is amazing.
I think the reason that some relationships flourish when children are added to the mix and others seems to shrivel has a lot to do with the learned parameters we have of what a relationship "should" look like and the checklist of expectations we hold over our partners.
From "Love Langauge's" to Couples Retreat's, the search for connection with your partner in the midst of nurturing your career and raising children can be a challenging one (often made more challenging if you feel embarrassed about your relationship trouble).
If this resonates, it might be because you were taught directly or indirectly that what your partner does has an impact on you.
You probably believe, like many do, that your spouse should do things they know you will make you happy and never do anything that might upset you.
In Life Coaching, we call this The Manual.
You have an instruction manual for your partner that if they follow means they love you and if they don't follow it means they don't care about you.
If my partner loved me they would:
- make me breakfast every morning
- compliment my appearance
- take me out to dinner at least once per week
- buy me gifts "just because"
- call me during the day to see how I am doing
Your list is probably much longer and it also includes all the things they aren't allowed to do for example:
If my partner loved me they would NEVER:
- get upset with me
- question my decisions
- ask me to stay home with the kids so they can spend time with friends
- forget my birthday
Your list is probably a lot longer here too.
To Make Matters Worse....
While you are busy keeping track of all the things your partner is or isn't doing to "prove" their love for you, chances are so are they.
Some couples will even give each other a list of their "needs" and then things get really intense because now they are both walking on eggshells trying to meet the expectations of their partner while at the same time scrutinizing EVERYTHING the other person is doing and keeping score of who is delivering the other person's "needs" better.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like a complicated disaster to me.
Who on earth wants to spend their life adhering to one set of expectations in order to try and "make someone happy"?!
A More Liberating Option
Instead of living a life where you are enforcing your "needs" and trying to deliver your partner's, what if you both just took care of yourselves and enjoyed each other's company?
I know this sounds overly simplistic, but it's actually a radical shift for most relationships.
Let's say you love throwing parties but your partner isn't much of a planner. Every time you throw a party, they drag their feet about it. You tell them to go get snacks and they come back with things that are below your standard. It is stressful for both of you and you fight before every single party you host.
What if instead of you expecting your partner to take interest and be a great party planner like you are, you just decided that hosting friends is something that is important to you and therefore you are going to take on the job yourself or maybe ask an organized friend to come over and help you?
Just imagine what it would be like to drop all the drama you have around wanting your partner to be excited to throw a party or about them "doing it wrong" because you aren't waiting for them to make you feel loved by being involved.
What would it be like to just do what you want because you want to AND let them show up and enjoy the event without anyone feeling resentful?
I recorded a whole podcast about it.
And I am doing some free 20 minute mini-sessions to help you start to create the relationship of your dreams. Register to get a free session here: