You finally met the person that you can imagine being with for the foreseeable future. You both share similar values and maybe even some similar interests. When you are together you have fun sharing your lives and imagining your shared future. When you welcome your first child, however, the dynamic begins to change.
Gradually you find that you have less energy to spend on the relationship between you and your significant other as you commit more of your time to the new human that you have brought into the world together. As your child grows so do most of your demands including financial pressures and time constraints. Now when you have time to spend together with your partner both of you are exhausted. It is hard to imagine those now seemingly endless periods of time that you had to just focus on each other and your relationship. Instead, you are lucky to find a night for yourselves when neither you or your partner fall asleep before 8pm.
The struggle is real. You are in a new phase of your life in which it is important to make decisions about your values and the structure of your family system, which can lay the foundation for the way your family will continue to function moving forward. Consider how much time you have available to spend alone with your partner. How you decide to carve out time to focus on your relationship will also impact your children. Do you remember as a child noticing how your parents interacted? Children are taking everything in through their quickly developing sensory minds and the values you place on how you share time with your partner will reflect on how they value and approach relationships as well far into the future.
Now you can begin the process of restructuring your life into the one that is more consistent with your values, recognizing that it might look a lot different than you had originally imagined. When you notice that you are experiencing difficult emotions, recognize that this is KEY information that something in your life could be off center. For instance, you find yourself feeling tense and ruminating about your next vacation or day off or feeling annoyed with your partner for wanting to postpone the next date night. When this happens you have an important opportunity to reflect on your values and to realign yourself with your partner and your family unit.
Taking care of yourself and your relationship is so important. This may mean taking 1 hour walks talking to a friend on the phone before picking up your child from daycare, hiring a sitter one night a month, or dropping the kids off with close relatives so that you and your partner, no matter how sleepy, can get some time to be adults together alone or with friends. This can be hugely important in the long run. How you take care of yourself and respond to your needs will reflect on the care and energy that you are able to in turn provide to your family unit. Sometimes that means being a little self focused and prioritizing devoting time and energy for just you and your relationship with your partner. This will help to reestablish your alliance and set the foundation for your family. There is no time like the present to start thinking about ways in which to carve even moments out of your day to focus on giving back to yourself and to your relationship. You will be doing so not only for yourself but for the sake of your family, and everyone will be all the better for it.