I saw a post on Facebook today from a desperate Mum of a one year old daughter who was seeking relationship advice. She said that she was thinking of leaving her partner because they were going through some struggles and she was worried she didn’t love him anymore. It made me feel really sad and I didn’t even know the woman! It was just an anonymous post on a Mums group page.
I really felt for her and sad that she was considering giving up. Marriage (or any long term relationship) can be challenging but those first few years of parenthood are just a major shitstorm. Beautiful, yes. But a shitstorm nonetheless.
Almost every Mum I have spoken to about this say they have experienced a time of struggle in their relationship after having a child. And if you’ve had more than one child in a short period of time it is an even bigger, smellier shitstorm. And sadly it seems many couples make the difficult decision to call it quits rather than weather the storm.
We have not been immune to the struggle. I mean, when you throw hormones, very (very) little sleep, small people needing your attention 24/7, a fair bit less action in the bedroom and a shit tonne of laundry and dishes piled up things are bound to get a little….strained.
Now, they say that the key to any lasting relationship is communication. I just finished reading a great book by Alan Loy McGinnis called The Friendship Factor and in it he talks a lot about the ultimate friendship; a marriage. The author writes that many of us have a tendency to stop talking to the ones we love the longer we have known them. Makes sense, right?! He goes on to write about an experiment that measured the amount of conversation that occurs between the average married couple over the course of a week. The end result….17 minutes! SEVENTEEN MINUTES. Geez, the average male takes longer than that to take a dump!
This scares the life out of me. Especially since some day not too long from now the kids will be grown and we’ll be back to just us. Forever.
It’s definitely not always easy to keep the communication flowing especially during those difficult times. Though we should be able to be completely honest and transparent with our spouse it is often the hardest because we care for them so much and fear what might happen if we are. But the stories we tell ourselves and the resentment that builds up because, well, he should just know what’s wrong without me having to spell-it-out are always worse than just talking about it.
So in saying all of that, whether you are knee-deep in shitstorm or if you have managed to pop out the other side, I’d love to hear what you and your partner do to keep the conversation flowing (and not just about how many times little Johnny pooped today or what takeout to get for dinner). How do you make time for each other and what kinds of things do you do to keep your marriage pilot light lit?