7 Easy Ways to Upgrade the Relationship with your Partner
Parenting is hard, but divorcing and anger are much harder
There is nothing worse than having to deal with resentment on a daily basis; it is like that nasty neighbour that keeps on knocking on the wall, day and night when the only thing you want to do is relax and focus on what interest you the most.
It is like having a pot on the fire, that is ready to explode and burn you with drops of scalding water.
But enough with metaphors, as brewing resentment is extremely common and I’m quite sure you all know what I’m talking about.
“I woke up 8 times last night, and he is now asking me to go out for a beer with his mates to relax”.
“Today he has changed only 1 out of the 12 nappies, and he is complaining about the stink”.
“He has forgotten to do the only thing I have ever asked him to do”.
“He is complaining he wants to eat a steak, while I have slaved myself in the kitchen to make him a beautiful quiche”.
“He doesn’t understand what I’m going through”.
“He doesn’t listen to me.”
“I feel alone in the relationship”.
Have you identified yourself with any of the above scenarios? That’s possibly because we have all been there, and we didn’t know how to express our needs in a purposeful way.
Communication is crucial in marriage and not being able to communicate effectively quickly leads to resentment and frustration for both, impacting all aspects of a marriage.
No marriage is easy. Even couples with the best intentions are sometimes unable to overcome their challenges, that’s why it’s important to address the issues in your relationship early on.
Start with the I.
First of all, we need to start taking responsibility for our actions and feelings. Stop with the “You don’t listen to me”, and move to “When this happens, I don’t feel heard”. Do you see the difference? Enough with the useless and never-ending blaming game, and let’s start unraveling what’s within us and open the gate to a nurturing communication.
Recognise this is not his fault.
Or at least it’s not ALL his fault. They have triggers, and we do have triggers. Lack of sleep, pain, frustration, and exhaustion, in general, can quickly transform us in the worst version of ourselves. But there is no need to point the fingers and blame others for what we are experiencing. Instead of yelling, we can start talking, and instead of underlying what we are lacking, we can start by asking for support with a warm heart.
Practice mindful communication.
It can be hard, but it’s worth the try. Practice talking with a soft tone of voice, and, most of all, practice listening. Don’t jump on the first opportunity to tell your partner how wrong she/he is. Hear what the message is, and what the other person is trying to express. Then, do the same.
After having children, there are not that many moments where a parent can sit down and check the phone or watch the telly, with only peace and quiet on the background. The child is screaming, dinner needs to be made, bills need to be paid; it is very easy to isolate ourselves in the relationship and half-listen or be partially present.
This is something I have been working on since even before Luna was born; whenever I’m with my family I try to put the phone away, and I do try to engage in every topic of conversation, also when I’m dead tired and I just want to shut my brain off. I’m sure my husband would like to do the same sometimes, and if I want him to listen, then I have to give him my full attention when he asks for it.
Human beings are not mind readers. We pretend for other people to understand our feelings, yet we are so good at misinterpreting what other people are going through. We can be so silly when it comes down to the 1–0–1 rules of communicating. If you want something to be done, ask for it. Don’t nag, don’t think “it’s better if I do it”. Ask with a please and thank you. Be truthful and be grateful.
For example: “ It would be so great if you could cook dinner tonight, as I’m really tired, and I’d rather sit down for a second. Thank you”
You had a baby (or more than one), you are blending work life, family life, and social life. You haven’t been prioritizing yourself for months and you can’t remember last time you had a proper night sleep. You are snappy, and your partner is snappy. It is ok, it can happen, and you don’t need to go down a rabbit hole of dark thoughts if you have felt unheard or reprimanded. Go on with your day, and next time you see your partner, express your feeling in a positive and constructive way ”I felt …this morning, and…”
Stop the blaming game.
And stop talking behind the back of your partner with your friends, unless you are looking for a solution or constructive feedbacks. You don’t need an audience that cheers you up when you say “He is a dick”. You need to deal with that “dick” and find a solution for the short and long term future.
I’m no therapist, and I’m sure that some situations cannot be overcome by changing the way we talk to each other. In those cases, it’s very important to ask for the help of a counsellor. Don’t feel that you are a failure simply because you want to give your marriage a second (third? fourth?) chance.
You can read more on Motherhood, Parenting, Body Image and Love on my recently launched Medium Publication “Mothercare”