Day to day life can get so busy – especially for those couples that are parents. We can all use a reminder of some basic mechanisms of being parenting partners. Some of the following reminders may matter more to you than others. But those “others” might just be the very things that matter more to your partner.
What’s most important is having a solid plan on where you both feel understood and respected about what is important to you. Read through the following list and think about how one or more of them can be added to your marriage.
1. A Plan: How is today going to go? Who is packing lunches, doing drop off? If someone is staying home with the children, is there prep work the partner can do in advance to make sure the day runs smoothly and doesn’t fall disproportionately on one partner? Make a plan and stick to it.
2. Flexibility with the Plan: A good plan is a must and can feel so grounding. And yet, plans can’t always be executed “perfectly.” So, flexibility with the plan is a must and also knowing there will be grace and space when a plan doesn’t always work out can be so soothing to the relationship.
3. Demonstrate Care: Parents have a lot on their plates and often the couple relationship goes on the back burner. It happens. But what is important is remembering to intentionally not let it stay back there. Take action to “DO” something to move back toward connection. How exactly you do this is only limited by what feels like care to your partner. Some ideas: leaving a note every Monday in their work bag; calling/texting everyday to say hi and ask about the day; doing all lunch prep so they don’t have to worry about their own lunch; stating how you appreciate them; etc.
4. Validate, Validate, Validate: Everyone is working hard and doing their best. We need to feel seen, known and understood. Validation is our chance to tell our partner, “I see you. I love you. I appreciate you. I am thankful for you.” And, we need our partner to do the same for us. We do not all like to receive validation in the same ways, but we all want and need validation. Also, validation melts resentment and is what keeps resentment at bay. Resentment can very easily come into a parenting relationship, so practice intentionally validating your partner. Also, you do not need to agree with your partner in order for you to validate their feelings.
5. Communicate: It is hard enough to communicate clearly and affectionately when there is enough sleep and not much active noise. But add the extra stressors and strains of exhaustion, meeting others’ needs all day, trying to have space to know what it is that you even mean to communicate and then…well…communication is difficult. Difficult but so important. Communication about what you are thinking and feeling. But also just what is in store for the day or that you are going to be late or asking about something important that was happening for your partner. Communication shows “you and me are important to me.”
6. Self Love: So many parents hold themselves to impossible standards. There are a million good reasons to show yourself kindness and compassion but one really good one is modeling for our kids how we want them to treat themselves. We are our best selves to our kids and our partners when we: take pauses in our day to breathe and reflect, when we eat nourishing foods, when we talk to a friend, when we process our feelings, when we exercise, when we spend time in nature or whatever it is that we love. There will be a few minutes in our day to do this and you and your family will be glad you did.
Some questions to keep this conversation going:
What is 1 thing your partner is already doing that you really like? Try to tell them you like it and why.
What is one area you would like to work on with your partner? What would you like about this? How do you think it would help?
Kruti has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and works in her own private practice. She specializes in providing trauma-informed and culturally sensitive therapy to couples and adult individuals. She has extensive training in various couples training, including the Gottman method and Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) method. She’s passionate about providing mental health education to devotees. She most recently served as a Sunday school teacher for the Gauranga Class Youth Sanga. Kruti lives with her husband and daughter in Austin, TX.