What if your connection is failing?


We all know that relationships ebb and flow, but how do you know if you’re just in the ebb to your usual flow, or you’ve really lost your connection and should be worried?


It’s not unusual to experience a bit of a disconnect when you have a baby, when you’re surrounded by miniature versions of yourself all day.


Your lives are flipped upside down.


The things you used to do to connect as a couple are no longer possible, or remotely easy.


You barely feel like yourself anymore. (Who am I again?!)


Your romantic texts have been replaced with things like “can you pick up milk?” “Or WHERE are you?!”


Your conversations revolve around trying to work out WHY your kid is still not sleeping and whether you should be concerned that your youngest has blue poo.


Your body doesn’t feel the same and you can’t bear to be touched by anyone at the end of another day of the intense physical contact required to parent small people.


Whilst I realise that some families are forging a new kind of normal, I also don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that in most families the father’s life is not as drastically changed as a mother’s, when a baby comes along.


I think this key difference is the number one reason that resentment grows.


But I also feel like this point is something we tend to bury under a pile of …

“It’s just hard right now.”

“It will be easier when the kids are bigger.”

“It’s just the way it has to be.”  “He helps when he can.”

“If money wasn’t so tight…”


But are these just excuses?


Is it just a reality that relationships have to survive on the bottom of the pile when we have small children or should we be making more or effort to keep this connection strong?


How do we make sure that the relationship that created the family in the first place stays strong?


And trust me, I know when you’re worried you’re going to lose something it feels tempting to want to put ALL of your energy and focus on THEM to try and light that spark back up.


After all, isn’t that what you were doing in the beginning? Focusing solely on them? Before children came and took every ounce of your attention?


Unfortunately sole focus when you’re in the ebb often comes across as blame.


When you’re trying to fix the relationship from a place of fear (worrying that they aren’t interested in you anymore, worrying that you’ve made a mistake, worrying that there is no hope, worrying that you’re the only one making an effort) then your attempts will be tinged with anger, resentment, and maybe even a touch of desperation.


Before you know it a conversation about organising a date might turn into an argument over whose job it is to organise babysitting and who is putting more effort in.


The weight of your focus might become too much for the relationship to bear.


It starts to feel heavy and too much work. If every interaction you have is arguments, and playing the ‘I have it tougher than you’ game then you’ll be spinning your wheels in the ebb and start spiralling into completely losing your connection.


The solution has to start with you.

You own exquisite self-care needs to be your first priority. I’d like to place a bet that most of your relationship issues actually stem from a place of not looking after yourselves as individuals (afterall our closest relationships just mirror back to us the way we feel about ourselves).


It all sounds so bloody obvious doesn’t it? Now that you have a whole extra person to care for you need to do a LOT better job of caring for yourself.  Or rather – where self-care used to just happen on autopilot before kids because you had bucketloads of free time and what else were you going to do with it, NOW you have to make a conscious effort to care for yourself.


Neither one of you is getting enough sleep?

Make it a priority for both of you. Have a sleeping schedule if it means you can stop arguing over whose turn it is.  While biologically he is not programmed to wake like you are, I’m sure he will if he knows it will make you a happier wife, which inevitably means more lovin for him. (And if that doesn’t work a quick elbow to the ribs will).
Individual time become non-existent or hard fought for?

Take the fight out of it and just schedule it in weekly (equally) for both of you, at the start of the week, and don’t change the plans unless it’s an emergency.

Feeling Mum-guilts doesn’t count.
Bogged down in the mundaneness of having a young family and responsibilities?

(We can romanticise it all we like but let’s be real – days with young kids can sometimes be the definition of mundane.)  Try to lighten life up whenever you can. Joke, laugh at the antics of your kids together (share them with your partner when they aren’t there), share the funny light hearted parts of your days, not just the drudgery.
Money tight and making both of you feel restricted? 

Make a plan together so that money can make you happy, not stressed. Remember when money used to be fun?  Get back to that place. No matter what you might think about budgets – they can actually make money enjoyable again, because once you know that the bills are paid, you can feel good about spending your money, rather than guilty that it’s putting you further and further behind.


Not very nice to each other anymore?
The way we treat others is usually a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.  Which means, if your parter is not being very nice, instead of taking it as a personal attack on you, try to see it as evidence that they don’t feel very good about being them right now. And before you ask, NO, don’t call this fact to their attention.

When you’re in that place you don’t even have the ability to SEE that perspective.  All you know is you hurt and it feels better to lash out, so that’s what you do.

If you’re not being very nice in response however, that IS something you can change. Start looking after yourself in the way you would treat a brand new partner. Do things that you enjoy. Speak to yourself nicely. Work on feeling confident in yourself, whatever that looks like for you.

You’ll probably find that eventually this way of treating yourself well will rub off on your partner as well.


Believe that life is hardest for you?

We all feel like our partner has the better deal when it comes to the division of childcare and work and housework. The grass is always greener, right? It feels like they have it so easy and that they don’t understand or appreciate how hard it is for us.


But that’s only because we don’t know what it’s like for them. If we could have a little more kindness and compassion for each other, knowing that each one has their own difficulties we would probably be more likely to be able to negotiate a middle ground. Rather than coming at discussions with ‘you don’t appreciate me, you don’t know how hard it is for me’, see if you can instead approach it a little softer… “I know you’re tired after all day a work, perhaps you could half an hour to yourself when you get home and then I can do the same?”


I think when you start feeling (and interacting) like there is some sort of war to be won between you then it’s more than just an ebb. When you don’t feel like you’re playing on the same team anymore, then you’ve got something you really need to work on.


Are you in the ebb or the flow?

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