As parents, scheduling date nights, sex, a chat or exercising together sounds unromantic, but it is vitally important! Yes, that is an intentional redundancy to emphasise the importance of consciously prioritising your relationship with your partner and co-parent.
In this article, you'll discover:
Why prioritising your relationship as co-parent couples matters
5 ways to show your partner you love and appreciate them.
Why Prioritising Your Relationship as Co-parent Couples Matters
When a baby comes into the family, they immediately occupy the first position for our attention and focus. This often means our relationship with our partner takes fourth or last place. What lies in between? In second place is figuring out what you're meant to do in this parenting thing. And getting sleep usually comes in third. While our child is young, this order of importance is necessary.
However, an interesting phenomenon commonly occurs as our child becomes more independent, parenting gets more straightforward, and everyone's sleep more regular. Our parent-child relationship integrates and occupies the first place. With sleep less of an issue, it moves down or off the priority ladder. Second and third place becomes vacant. Yet oddly, our partner still occupies 4th or last place. Why is this? Usually, it's because work and other worldly distractions (e.g. video games, tv shows, social media) will muscle their way into second and third place. And once there, they are hard to shift!
So what happens if we do not consciously move our partners higher on our priority list? They can become frustrated, resentful or disengaged as they realise they're not a priority and haven't been for a long time. And if nothing changes, things get worse. We drift further apart and sail into metaphorical rough seas fraught with affairs and separations, eventually hitting the iceberg of divorce.
And it's not only your intimate relationship that suffers. Your children become burdened as they become peacekeepers between arguing parents, messengers between non-speaking parents, or substitute providers of love to their parents. When there's instability at home, children can no longer play or are forced to play grown-ups too fast. According to Psychology Professors E. Mark Cummings and Patrick Davies, when parents are repeatedly hostile to each other, whether verbally, physically or give each other the silent treatment, children feel troubled, worried, anxious and hopeless. Stressed children may internalise some of the stress and have sleep problems, bed wetting or health problems, e.g. stomach aches and headaches. Children may also externalise the stress through anger, misbehaviour, poor grades, truancy at school or hanging around with the wrong crowd.
Prevention is better than cure.
That's why it's essential to:
Prioritise spending time together as a couple doing something relaxing or enjoyable. Firstly this shows your partner your love and appreciation. Secondly, it creates opportunities for open, honest 1:1 conversations.
Learn how to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts healthily.
So how do you prioritise spending time together as a couple? There are many ways, and here are five ways to get you started.
5 Ways To Show Your Partner You Love and Appreciate Them.
Schedule regular dates (night or day): Plan to set aside time regularly to spend quality time together. This can be as simple as scheduling a weekly date night where you do something fun or relaxing, like watching a movie or cooking dinner together. Or why not enjoy a morning or afternoon movie date if your children are at school or daycare? And after the kids go to bed, lock your bedroom door and enjoy uninterrupted intimacy.
Plan activities that you both enjoy: When planning your time together, make sure to choose activities that you both enjoy. This will create a positive and relaxing atmosphere and help you both feel appreciated and valued.
Take a break from technology: Disconnect from technology for a while and focus on each other. Turn off your phones, TVs, and computers, and enjoy each other's company. This will create a space for open and honest conversations and help you both feel more connected.
Hire a babysitter: Pay for a babysitter (it's worth it!) or ask a family member to watch your children for a few hours. This will allow you both to focus on each other and have uninterrupted time together.
Ruthlessly prioritise self-care and encourage your partner to do the same: Make sure to prioritise self-care so that you both feel rested and refreshed. Take turns planning both indulgent and essential self-care activities for each other. Indulgent self-care includes a massage or a spa day; make time to do them together. Essential self-care is daily activities to enhance your mental, physical and emotional health and well-being. At Herself Health and Lifestyle Coaching, we recommend The 5 Herself Health Essential Self-Care Pillars for enjoying career success and a happy home. They are:
Being physically active. Moving your body more to enjoy good health, get fit or tone up.
Mental activity. Learning empowering ways of thinking and getting coaching to support you in creating good habits and making lasting behaviour changes.
Nutrition. Understanding what you need to eat and drink to have longer-lasting energy and a healthy body
Sleep. Using proven strategies to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep so you wake up feeling rested and refreshed and spend the day more productive.
Social and soulful connection. Making time to spend time connecting and bonding with the people you love. Learning how to communicate effectively with family, friends, colleagues and clients. And also leaving time to reconnect with yourself.
Prioritising self-care replenishes your cup of giving so you have more to give to others. Practising self-care together will help you both feel appreciated and valued and create opportunities for open and honest conversations.
So today and every day, show your partner you love and appreciate them in your unique way and in these five ways:
Scheduling regular dates,
Planning activities as a couple,
Taking a tech break together,
Getting a babysitter and going out
Ruthlessly prioritising and encouraging self-care.
Let's make your success healthy and happy!