Whether you are engrossed in charting temperature, cervical mucus and peeing on Ovulation strips; going through IVF; facing the emotional effects of infertility; worrying about pregnancy health; consumed with nausea, body aches and pains, and all things baby; or you are sleep deprived and knee deep in diapers, one thing is certain…growing a family changes you. It not only changes you personally but it also affects your relationship with you partner. Life can become task oriented, and single focused, or so scattered and exhausting that quite honestly, there can be little to no energy left to give towards building a stronger connection with your partner.
What I find so interesting is that the thing that connects you even more to another person, (creating and having a baby) can actually cause you to grow further apart if you aren’t careful. I’m talking about when the excitement wears off: sex can be all about the right timing and less about enjoying each others’ bodies and connecting; hooray you’re pregnant can turn into it’s 7pm and I just want to go to bed; the looks of adoration with the new baby can turn to looks of death over whose turn it is to change the poopy diaper… Deep down of course we love our partners, but it can be hard to navigate the changes in our most important relationship.
I have learned a great tool for building positive connections with my partner: building fondness and admiration. I learned this term from the book Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman. What does building fondness and admiration mean to me? Having positive interactions that focus on gratitude and enjoying being with each other. Some personal favorites: Watching a show together, kissing goodbye and hello, sharing about our day and really listening (that means putting phones down), playing cards and having a cocktail once the kids are asleep, going on a hike, going for a family walk. It doesn’t have to cost money and it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal (although sometimes that is fun too). The important thing is to be intentional and then be present and enjoy one another.
What are some ways you work to keep the love alive? I’d love to hear what has helped you in the comment section below.