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Has parenting taken the ‘life’ out of your love life? Here is what you can do to rekindle the magic

Team ParentCircle Team ParentCircle 13 Mins Read

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Hey parent, are you still in love? Did this question get you thinking? Well, read on to know why your spouse needs all your attention while you bask in your parenting glory

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Has parenting taken the ‘life’ out of your love life? Here is what you can do to rekindle the magic

Do you remember that first look, first smile and the first meal? Well, most certainly, you are thinking we’re talking about your little one. What if we just added one word to that question? Do you remember that first look, first smile and the first meal together? Those were the days, weren’t they? You met your life partner; you smiled together and enjoyed a beautiful date night. The big question - is the magic still there?

Your little one is your world, and she takes up all your time and energy. As new parents, we are constantly worried about sleep deprivation, diapers, colic, spit-ups, tantrums, and many other things that our children so ‘joyously’ bring upon us. Your tiny, helpless bundle of joy needs all your attention to survive in this brand-new world.

As you settle into this new identity as a new parent, it is easy (and natural) to get comfortable and make it your only identity. After all, from providing healthy nutrition, finding the right school and chauffeuring your child to all the extra-curricular activities, to taking care of your child's emotional well-being, it can be physically tiring and emotionally draining. Amidst this madness, your children become the very meaning and purpose of your life. It is good to have a purpose in your life, but not all your energy needs to be spent on raising your child. How about having some time for your significant other?

Why your spouse is your North Star

When you started walking along the 'happily-ever-after' road, you promised to take care of each other through the long journey. However, somewhere in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you forget the promise. You take each other for granted. Though you may say you're parenting hard, you raise your child only for 18 years. But you're in your marriage for a longer run (read lifetime). If you let the child-rearing years pass by without actively connecting with your spouse, you will end up with a stranger after your child gets his wings and flies off from the nest.

How your love life affects parenting

If you don't have a rapport with your spouse, you're putting your own and your child's well-being at risk. A sense of safe home and family is important for your child's development. If you and your spouse are mere roommates for the sake of your child, he will not have the sense of belonging in a tightly knit family. In a broken family, it is harder for a child to reach his potential. Your family should be a safe haven for your child to return to after having packed, stressful days. Moreover, when parents are a part of the same team, it is easier to establish ground rules and values for the child.

When your child lives in a secure, loving home, he can witness how two adults can lovingly coexist despite all their differences. Many research studies have established the fact that children who witnessed domestic violence will likely end up in troubled relationships themselves. This is because they had no positive role models to show them how to love unconditionally, treat each other with respect or handle conflicts amicably.

Keep an eye on your own anxiety

In his popular book, To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, the author David Code explains that emotional detachment from your spouse (even when everything appears normal on the surface) is the main reason for your child's behavioral issues. He explains that when parents avoid each other, one parent will drift more towards the child to get emotional fulfillment. This, in turn, can have severe repercussions on the child.

For instance, when a mother concentrates too much on her child, her anxious mind will blow up even a routine flu as something big and worrisome. The child's fragile nervous system absorbs all the anxiety from the mother and manifests itself in the form of physical symptoms. Amazing, isn't it? You may mean well when you hover over your child, but it is imperative to keep an eye on your own anxiety levels and unhealthy attachment with your child. Furthermore, studies have established that mothers with intense parenting attitudes suffered more depression and stress.

Bringing back the magic

Do you know the one common trait that runs across happily married couples? They try and work hard on their marriage. That's right. They want their family to be happy and so they put their efforts to make it happen. We all tend to think that only certain couples are blessed with perfect, happy marriages. And, we despair that such luck escaped us for some strange reason. In reality, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Happy couples make an effort to focus on the positives in their lives and be happy. So, a happy marriage is a conscious choice that you make every day. Are you up for it? Here's how:

1. Make time for each other

The important word here is 'make'. You're not just spending time with your spouse; you are mindfully planning to take time off your other engagements. You can seamlessly fit this into your routine by allocating a date night once a week, having yearly couple-only vacations or going to grown-up movies every month. If you don't have the time or resources to plan them big, tweak them to suit you. Can't go to a restaurant every week? Cook up a special meal and have it right in your terrace or balcony under the moon. Yes, a moonlight dinner! You don't have to spend a fortune on a luxurious resort for your break, just spend a day at the beach or a park. Is driving to the theatre too much of a hassle? Try a mini staycation and watch an online movie streaming right in your living room. It's not the grandeur of things that stays with your spouse, but your sincere efforts. Take this quote to your heart: It's the little moments that make life big.

Parent quote

"I am from a traditional family, and my parents were very conservative. Like most typical South Indian families, my father was the dominant figure who took most of the decisions. I know that my father loved my mother deeply, but he never showed it outside. With me being an only child, my mother's days revolved around me. I don't really remember her having any social life. We hardly ever went out for trips or movies. My mother suddenly passed away due to a heart attack when I was in my third year of college. Without me at home, I feel that her heart just gave away. I wish my father had paid more attention to her. Now, I show my love to my wife at every opportunity. (Actually, most of the time, she demands that I show it!) And, it is always in front of my son!"

- Priyan, India

2. Have a digital detox

We are glued to our phones all the time – from our dining tables to bedrooms, our faces never escape its addictive halo. You don't need updates on every aspect of your friend's life, nor do you have to keep up with the news every minute. It may be hard to keep a tab on the time you spend online, but every unnecessary minute you spend on social media or the Internet is essentially taking your time away from your loved one. A survey conducted by the University of Texas in 2014 revealed that partners who frequently use social media have troubled marriages and dissatisfaction with their spouses. You don't have to go off the grid and close your online accounts or throw away all your gadgets to connect with your spouse. Start small – you have better chances of sticking with it. Instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, how about looking at your spouse in the eye with a cheerful smile? Banning gadgets from your dining table will not only help your marriage, but will improve your child's language and academic performance.

3. Share a hobby

A 2014 survey conducted by Pew Research Center revealed 64% of married couples voted for having shared interests as the key to a successful marriage. While it is essential to enjoy your hobbies and have your own special time to nurture your individuality, do not overlook the benefits your marriage can gain if you find some common interests to spend time together. It can be anything - from hiking or gardening to playing a sport or joining a local club. This practice will reinforce that you belong in the same team and reduce conflicts.

4. And some housework

The same Pew Research survey also showed that more than half of the couples felt that sharing household work leads to a successful marriage. So, dad, what are you waiting for? Arm yourself with a scouring pad or a broom and get cleaning. Even in modern, urban families, the mother usually gets the maximum household responsibility. This is the main reason why there is an official entry in the Urban Dictionary for the word momster. A well-rested and calm mother can make your day brighter, and your child's life easier. She will find a smaller number of instances to count to three!

5. Communicate, as in R. E. A. L. talking

Communication is one of the key aspects of successful relationships. You may be married for years, but that doesn't mean that your spouse can read your mind. So, make sure you talk to your spouse. Pay attention to your body language when you're talking. Look at your spouse, lean forward and listen to what your spouse says with genuine interest. Remember, using your phone or working on your laptop while talking to your spouse doesn't count as real communication.

6. Address conflicts

This is another area where couples stay lax. It is easy to believe that an issue is nonexistent just because you don't talk about it. However, it is important to remember that stifled emotions and pent-up anger have extreme consequences for any relationship. When talking about conflicts, talk about your feelings, emphasizing how you feel – using words such as I feel, I think, etc. – instead of pointing fingers. When you argue with respect, it is not only your relationship (with your spouse) that’s getting better, but your observant child is learning a quiet lesson - about fighting fair.

7. Connect physically

It is natural for physical intimacy to take backstage with a young child around. But, bring it back to the spotlight as soon as you can. Throughout the day, show your love by handholding, hugging and kissing. These are powerful ways to strengthen your bond. As soon as you come home, give a warm hug to your spouse and ask about his/her day. There is no better way to show your child that you care deeply about your spouse and family than this. Let your child see you bonding with your spouse so that she can set her own relationship goals in the future.

8. The little things matter

Small everyday gestures can have a huge impact on your marriage. Gifts or flowers are nice, but you don't have to plan for hours to surprise your spouse. Do simple things like filling up the fuel tank of your spouse's vehicle, picking up your spouse's favorite magazine or taking your child out for a walk. This will give your spouse some 'me' time.

9. Get help if necessary

Even after trying everything, if you feel things are still amiss, get an expert's help. Don't let the stigma associated with counseling or therapy stop you. A mediator, like a marital therapist, can help you put things in perspective. Find a qualified mental health professional such as a clinical psychologist and put in the extra effort to improve your marriage.

To sum up, when you prioritize your spouse, you're reaffirming your trust in each other. As social beings, we thrive by socializing with our family and friends. The most important person in your life is most likely your spouse. So, connecting with him/her is paramount for your emotional health. With a healthy mind, you're better equipped to calmly and wholeheartedly parent your child. What's more? If you take away some attention from your child and focus on your spouse a bit more, you will raise a happy, healthy and well-balanced child. Bring back the magic in your marriage – it's a win-win for all!

In a nutshell

  • With time and added parenting duties, partners tend to drift apart. It is important to keep the magic alive in the relationship for the sake of the parents’ own emotional health and their child's well-being.
  • When partners are emotionally distant, one will lean towards the child for emotional fulfilment. This will lead to an unhealthy attachment between the parent and child.
  • If you don't have a rapport with your spouse, you're putting your own and your child's well-being at risk. A sense of safe home and family is important for your child's development.
  • When your child lives in a secure, loving home, he can witness how two adults can lovingly coexist despite all their differences.
  • A sense of family and belonging is crucial in building a strong foundation for a child's growth.
  • A successful marriage needs continuous nurturing, and it is simple to achieve. Spending more time with your spouse, engaging in active conversation, involving in a hobby, sharing the housework and showing physical affection are some of the proven ways to strengthen your marriage.

What you can do right away...

  • Take a vow that you will not touch your phone for 30 minutes after you wake up and after you come home. Ensure you're spending time with your spouse in those moments.
  • Wake up 15 minutes early to ease your spouse's stress in the kitchen or in getting your child ready for school on time.
  • Plan one evening in a month as a date night to spend time as a couple. Ensure that you are going out only with your spouse. You can go to a restaurant, movie, concert, or anything that you both enjoy. This is your time to introspect and reassert your relationship.
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