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Technology has us all moving at a million miles a minute. It feels impossible to catch a break for yourself, nevermind for your partner. We don’t always feel welcomed to slow down, take a breath, and reassess what’s important to us. Without being able to slow down, we lose sight of the parts of our lives that we want to cultivate. When you’re a parent, that most often shows up in your relationship with your partner.
Raising children is one of the most stressful tasks any two (or more, because we know it takes a village!) people can take on. Humans are hard work and none of us have our emotional needs all figured out so connecting with other humans while raising tiny humans can sometimes feel impossible. But it’s not!
You can have small children, multiple small children, even, and still, love your partner. You’re not always going to connect or get along or find the way to resolution quickly, but you don’t have to lose your relationship security over a lack of connection.
Alone Time & Togetherness
Parents of young children want alone time, we crave alone time. Getting alone time together, though, consists of including other people in what we’re doing since the children can’t be left alone. We have to call our parents, our babysitters, or family members to give us time off. If you’re anything like me this task is usually ridden with guilt and obligation so we’re comfortable doing this max 1-2 times per month.
Connecting with your partner is hard when you have no alone time and no time to destress or disconnect from family obligations. Being good parents doesn’t mean you’ll be good partners. Similar to how being good friends won’t make you good business partners. Different skills take different disciplines, being a good partner is about a certain discipline you have to choose daily. That discipline is your connection. Connecting with your partner is not going to happen automatically, in fact disconnecting is far easier because it takes no work at all.
While we’re in social isolation, waiting for the pandemic to end, and still wanting to connect without partners, we have to find new ways to do it.
What Does Connecting with Your Partner Mean?
Connection is not always about alone time or being in the presence of each other. When we connect with our partners, it’s about mutual understanding, agreement, and shares values. Think of all the times in the past you felt connected to your partner. The connection is rarely physical and typically about finding something to share. Sharing for connection is more than agreement on a subject, it’s passionate agreement.
Passionate agreement is how you feel about your children or your pets. You both value the same thing. Sometimes this connection happens organically. Having children or buying a home can create a deep connection. Other times, it takes work to connect with our partners. We have to seek out ways to find passionate agreement about something.
Since we don’t always have the physical space to find passionate agreement, we sometimes need to find connections that don’t include alone time or physical closeness.
Finding a Topic to Share
Finding a topic to share can help create some energy between you and your partner that help alleviate the stress talks. Stress talks revolve around the things we have to do for survival, to care for our children, or to maintain the lifestyle we’ve established.
The problem with stress talks is that all of our conversations become about something stressful and never a release from the day. When our partner is only available for stress talks, we start to associate conversations with our partners with stress. We avoid stress when we can, which means we start avoiding talking altogether.
Regular conversations that are not centered around survival, child-rearing, and lifestyle maintenance, are necessary for a happy, healthy relationship. Finding things to talk about takes effort. If both you and your partner are out of touch with connecting, it may feel like a mountain to climb just to agree on a topic.
If that’s how you’re feeling, start with communication.
Learning About a New Topic to Share
It’s been a year in social isolation so a Netflix binge has been overdone. We’ve watched new movies, we’ve watched new shows, we binge old ones, but it’s not the same. Shows can be great, my husband and I were really passionate about Game of Thrones, but I think the pandemic made shows heavier. It’s all we could do, so they lost their luster.
Reading is a great way to learn about something new and talk about it at your own pace. Finding a topic to learn about and then doing it together is an awesome way to connect.
My husband and I started reading Non-Violent Communication as a way to improve the way we communicate with each other and our kids. Since we’ve been boxed up together for so long, we’ve been communicating a lot, and not always in healthy ways. In order to change that, we started reading this together. One chapter at a time. Then, after bedtime, we talk about the things we read. We interpret parts differently and pick up on things the other didn’t. It’s like an intimate book club.
The best part is, our relationship has benefited so much from learning communication and doing something together, learning things about ourselves together.
Make it a Journey
Find something you and your partner want to learn about or improve upon. Maybe it’s homesteading, maybe it’s gardening, maybe it’s communication. If you don’t know where to start, communication is the best place because it will help you learn ways to discover each other so you will know where to start for the next topic.
Finding something to become passionate about can be connecting all in itself, as long as you’re doing it with the intention of connecting with your partner.
Make sure they’re on board when you approach the subject, don’t force the idea. Suggest wanting to connect and finding a way to do so. Ask if they want to suggest the topic or idea. Be open to whatever you can learn together. Think of it as a book club and say yes every week.