This month I was lucky enough to chat to Ellie from Coupld who is a relationship coach who lives in the States. I had the best time and you can watch the full Youtube video here or if you are on-the-go listen to the podcast version here. In this month's blog I wanted to highlight a few of my favourite things that Ellie said and give you 3 actionable steps to improve your relationship today!
It goes without saying that time, energy and finances are tied up in a new way post-kids but one of the big impacts this has is on your relationship. You have gone from a party of 2 (where you could make space for your individual and collective needs) to a party of 3,4, 5 or maybe even more ( if you have 3+ children I bow down to your greatness). In short, times have changed. But how do you weather this shift, and not only weather it, how do you grow and thrive in your new surroundings?
Here are 3 tips from Ellie:
1. Grieve The Past
Whilst the new joys of family life may be wonderful and fulfilling and you would never want to be without them, it is OK to grieve the life you once had before. Give yourself or your partner permission to miss the relaxing trips you took or the opportunity to regularly hang out with friends - these are nice things, it's ok to feel sad that they don't happen anymore.
Ellie speaks about the way in which women and couples prepare for the arrival of a baby, it is common knowledge and discussion that the female body will change, the nights will be hard and that you will need to take some time off work but beyond that there is little space made to discuss the giant meteor that is about to hit your relationship as you both take on new roles (regardless of cv) that will push you to your limits. New can be difficult for both sides.
ACTION: work together to talk about the things you miss and accept that one or both of you at times may miss the olden days BUT that doesn't mean you want to change where you are right now.
2. Say Hello and Wave Goodbye
Ok I'm singing Soft Cell in my head as I type this now-hehe. Tip number 2 might seem like the most obvious thing you've ever heard but good habits are what create cultures and in a culture as busy and distracted as ours taking 30 seconds out of your day to give your partner a kiss or cuddle before they leave in the morning or when you reunite at the end of the day can be so nurturing.
Why it matters- the language of love here is that you matter and that your partner matters to you. Sometimes it is that simple. This is particularly important when there are little people around who need so much of your energy, it can feel like too much of an effort to make space mentally or physically for your partner but a hello/goodbye gesture reminds them/you that you are loved.
ACTION: create a new habit and remind each other to say hello and goodbye in your own way everyday.
3. Become ' The Couple Who'...
So building on the idea of habits. Number 3 is about finding an activity that you enjoy doing regularly, regularly enough that you become the couple who...
- go for a weekend cycle
- take a yearly trip away
- watch a movie and order a takeaway on a Saturday night
- go for a walk one evening a month
ACTION: Start a new ritual or routined habit. Creating these new habits gives you a collective experience to look forward to and builds the bond between you.
Let's be super clear here though- relationships post kids are HARD. Don't feel bad if you are struggling to nurture yours. You are not alone. If you are looking for help to work on some good relationship maintenance (think of it like a car's MOT and service) then head to the Coupld Instagram page for hints and tips as well as links to work with Ellie directly.
Let me know in the comments below which tip you liked best.