Washington Family Magazine : February 2015
washingtonFAMILY.com February 2015 15 K ids have a way of taking over our lives. We love them, but our little wonders need attention morning, noon and night. What’s left for ourselves? What’s left for our partners? We fondly remember the days when it was just a family of two, when we had time for romantic evenings out and weekend getaways. You wouldn’t trade your kids for the world, but... It’s time to drop the defeated, “just trying to survive parenthood” attitude. You don’t need to wait until the kids turn 18 and leave the nest to have a whirlwind romance with your partner. Don’t settle for the occasional “date night” either. There are lots of easy, quick, daily things you can do to make a real difference in your connection. Get ready to keep that spark alive and growing! You’ll hit your 50th anniversary before you know it. Go Small Forget big productions and outlandish gifts. Going small with affection can be a game changer if done consistently. Give regular compliments, even if you’ve known your partner for 20 years and you’ve said it all before. Say, “I love you,” because you can never say it too much. Send a love letter (or email or text) or leave a surprise note in your partner’s dresser or chair. You can be cheesy, flirty, sexy – but most importantly, be real. You look your best when you are open and trusting. act muShy! The “go small” advice works for physical affection, too. Little touches can say it all, so hug, cuddle, hold hands, kiss cheeks and bump shoulders. Just standing close to your partner is an indication of trust and support. Don’t be shy about showing affection in front of your kids, either. One of your jobs is to teach them what a healthy relationship looks like, and the best way to do that is to have one. have “Get to Know you” converSationS Personal change and growth don’t stop when you hit the marriage and kids’ milestones. Your partner will change and grow, too. And so, the “get to know you” part of your relationship is everlasting. Set aside time for conversations on topics other than kids, work and home. Share your new hopes, dreams, interests and goals. Be excited to fall in love with the person your partner is becoming, not just who they are now. taKe turnS Do each other a good turn – watch the kids while your partner engages in personal time away from home, and then switch. This is a perfect opportunity to work on yourself or do something you love. Go to the gym, join a book club or take a class. After you’ve given each other the gift of time and personal growth, share the results. Talk about how your days went and what you’d like to do next. Set a Bedtime... ... for you and your partner. Develop a bedtime routine to do together: take a shower or bath, do partner stretches or meditate. Warning: Casual physical affection may lead to something steamier! My personal favorite is to keep a joint gratitude journal. Every night, each of you shares something that you are grateful for and writes it down. Go to bed feeling more peaceful and connected, and wake up ready to treasure another day with the love of your life. write your own love Story Make it into a full Hollywood-style production! Use any form you want – photos, videos, diary entries, mementos, love letters, random notes, anything that tells your story. Update it regularly. If you notice you haven’t added anything in a while, or you can’t think of anything to add, that’s a red flag. It’s time for some quality couple time. meditate your Future toGether Where do you see yourself as a couple in 10 years? Sit beside each other, close your eyes, and spend 10 minutes visualizing your life together 10 years from today. At the end of 10 minutes, write down everything you saw. Based on your vision for the future, create a 10-year goal that you both share. Then work backwards – create five-year and one-year goals that are steps towards your vision. Finally, come up with something you can both do today (right now!) that moves you in the right direction. Schedule ParentinG StrateGy SeSSionS Your kids are a huge part of your lives. Don’t ignore the influence that has on your connection as a couple. Schedule a monthly parenting strategy session to discuss what’s going on with each of your kids. You each play different roles and will have unique observations and perspectives that you can share. Be proactive about addressing concerns before they become significant problems. Talk about your parenting philosophies and find ways to compromise. Show a united front and be parents together, not apart. Jenn Stanhagen is a freelance writer, life coach, eating disorder recovery advocate and yoga teacher. Check out her personal blog at BlankGrayCanvas.com.