I remember when my partner and I first met. I remember talking with him for hours about anything and everything. I remember the butterflies I’d get when I saw his face, or even just his name pop up on my phone. I remember using any opportunity to talk about him, or to him, and feeling both incredibly nervous around him, but also incredibly – and instantly – comfortable with him. I remember suddenly realising, quite quickly after we started dating, that I’d met my soul mate. It was almost like I’d found a hidden part of my heart that I didn’t know existed and had been busy walking around in someone else’s body.
However – and I’m sure this won’t be a surprise to any of you – babies can make relationships hard. It’s hard to connect with your other half when you’re too tired to string a sentence together, it’s hard to enjoy a cuddle on the couch in front of the tv when you’ve had less than five minutes of personal space over the last three days, and its bloody hard not to lose your shit at him for daring to exhale after you’ve just resettled your exhausting – sorry, I mean darling – baby for the 12th time by 7pm. It’s hard to justify spending money on going out when you’re down to one income, and it’s hard to hold a meaningful or interesting conversation when the most exciting part of your day that day was managing to only use two wet wipes during a nappy change instead of three.
But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it – because it really, really is.
It’s important to put the effort in to keep being romantic and loving and interested in your partner – because otherwise the haze and chaos of parenting slowly takes over and you risk becoming parenting colleagues rather than partners. Sure, my partner and I will get “more time” when the kids are older, but why wait? I want enjoy life with my partner now as well as later.
Knowing I have a solid relationship and feeling connected and emotionally safe with my partner helps me cope with stresses and difficult times, of which parenting offers many (in between all the fabulous and heart warming times, of course, which occur far more often). I also believe it’s setting a good example for our sons, showing them how to maintain good communication and a healthy relationship full of mutual love and respect. If my boys treat their future wives the way my partner treats me, I’ll be very happy (and hopefully be thanked by our future daughter-in-laws, just like I’m thankful to my partner’s parents!).
It doesn’t happen automatically though. Relationships take continual work and effort; you know how regularly servicing your car helps avoid a big breakdown later on? It’s a bit like that – preventative maintenance. It doesn’t always have to be big grand gestures; the little things often make the biggest impact. Saying “I love you” every day (or several times a day), kissing him good morning, making sure I take time to have a proper non-child related conversation, giving him a cuddle (or more) on a regular basis are all small, but regular reminders to show my partner that he is important to me. And when time (and money) allows, we try and get out together – alone. Remember mamas; the kids will survive if you go out for a date night every now and then, so go guilt free! We were recently treated by my amazkng in-laws to a kid free date at a hot springs pool, and it was bliss; we actually didn’t talk about the kids at all. Instead we talked about life – and pretty much anything else but kids – and just enjoyed each other’s company and undivided attention. It was magic, and so, so good for both of us to feel like a “couple” again rather than parents, even if only for an afternoon.
I’ve also found that making sure we keep talking about the little things also means it’s much easier for us to talk about the big or tricky things when they arise – which is why, I think, we don’t really fight, and why I also think it’s why parenting has made us stronger. It’s not like we never disagree – we definitely do! – it’s just that we deal with it with open conversation and healthy debate, rather than having a full blown Mexican standoff.
So, mamas, don’t let life or parenting get in the way of dating your partner. Remember to actively keep loving them, communicating with them, courting and romancing them. Remember how it all began – and hold on to that feeling.
Until next time, glow mamas!