Parenting and Keeping Your Relationship Alive
by LFCS Therapist, Elizabeth Flynn, MSW
Raising children in this day and age is not for the faint of heart. You love them, but they can drive you to the point of crazy at any given time. Sometimes we go through the daily grind of work and family obligations, celebrations and crisis not knowing what toll might be taking place in our marriage when raising our kids. Here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind:
- Take time for each other – This can be as simple as strolling around the block with little Susie in the stroller, a trip to the store or any other relatively mindless activity where you can listen and speak with each other without interruptions – or it can be as elaborate as getting a babysitter and going to dinner and a movie. The important thing is that it provides a time for you and your partner to have time together in a relaxing environment.
- Keep a sense of humor – The daily grind can get any of us down, but having a sense of humor can help take the sting out of the problems at hand. If the plumber had to come to your house because little Elouise put her Legos down the toilet, try to understand that this behavior will not last a lifetime and it’s easy to put a small alarm on the bathroom door.
- Learn from others – All couples who have children face similar obstacles. Getting another’s viewpoint might help, choose someone whose opinion you respect and does not have any ulterior motives.
- Discuss with each other how you think parenting and discipline should look like. Discuss how you and your partner were disciplined and explore the differences. That way you will be on the same page when Johnny does something that needs disciplinary action. When parents parent in a unified front, there is less arguing and triangulation within the family unit.
- When in doubt, talk with each other. We all have doubts, but keeping them pent up inside can be a problem down the road. The general advice in this area is to keep lines of communication open with your partner, and always talk about the little things as well as the big things. When you blow up about there not being any milk left, it’s usually not about the milk.
Parenting can be a wonderful time in a person’s life. There is a sense of accomplishment in raising children into adulthood and when they finally launch onto their own paths. But, it isn’t always easy. The items above are easy fixes. If things are too complex, or the problems seem more than you and your partner can handle alone, then consider seeking the help of a professional counselor. And, remember the 3 most important words in the English language: I need help.