As much as we love our children and can’t imagine our lives without them, the addition of children has an impact on each and every couple. Some only experience small changes while other's suffer so badly that it causes them to go their separate ways. With less time to spend with one another as well as the anxieties, frustrations and exhaustion that are a part of parenthood, many women find themselves losing that loving feeling and wondering how to get it back.
Always remember your why. As corny as it sounds, if you’re married, you took vows to love for better or worse, for richer or poorer and in sickness and in health. If you’re not married, you fell in love with your partner for a reason. Remember those vows or that reason when you’re not feeling so lovey dovey. Are you practicing them or was in just lip service? Do they still have those qualities that you fell in love with? While people’s actions may differ from day to day, their personalities, values and qualities (good or bad), typically don’t change. In the day-to-day interactions of life, it can be very easy to forget why we do everything that we do. We set our minds to autopilot and efficiently perform our daily tasks, getting through the day but not really thinking about why we’re doing it all. When you find yourself frustrated with your partner, remember your end game and your why. Remember why you chose them as a partner in the first place and rather than focus on what they did or didn’t do well that day, think about whether or not those whys are still in place and just deeply buried under a mountain of parental responsibilities and never-ending to-do-lists!
Define goals and as much as possible align them. If your partner isn’t living up to your expectations, perhaps it’s because they’re your expectations and not his. Learning more about what his expectations are will help you learn so much about him instead of assuming that your goals and expectations are exactly the same. If you haven’t already, make sure that your long-term goals are aligned as much as possible. Even if you have different short-term goals, you could have the same long-term objective in mind. Often, the irritations and frustrations that you may feel are because your goals aren’t the same. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t compatible, just that you’re different. Even if your goals aren’t the same, understanding each other’s motivations can help you to better understand each other’s movements towards those motivations
Your partner is your teammate and not you. This was a really hard one for me. Before I had a child and even after, I considered fair to be us being able to do the same things equally well. That didn’t mean that my husband had to do it exactly the way that I do it, but that he was capable of doing it. Players on a team or in an organization all have different specialities, so why shouldn’t the members of your family be the same? In reality, we all have different strengths and different weaknesses. Many of the things that I was attracted to about my husband, his strengths, were things that I considered weaknesses of my own. Getting caught up in my unrealistic idea of fair caused me to undermine this dynamic instead of appreciate and maximize these differences. Being able to make the most of two people, who can do different things well, has a far bigger impact on our overall family dynamic than having two people that have exactly the same strengths and weaknesses.
Focus on the good. If you’re looking to find something wrong, chances are that you will since no one is perfect and we all mistakes. Mistakes can be recognized, but should be treated as opportunities to learn rather than as a way to undermine and prove that you’re right. Expecting perfection is also demeaning. If you’ve ever had a job where you could do 90% of your tasks right with very little recognition but instead you were beaten down every single time you made a mistake the remaining 10% of the time, imagine how demoralized you would feel.
Make yourself happy and depend on your partner to complement that happiness. Slowly over time after having my daughter, I realized that my frustrations and anger had more to do with me than with my husband. I felt as if I’d given up so much and wanted to feel as if he’d given up as much. In my desire to be a perfect mom and live up to society’s expectations of what a super mom should be, I found myself completely sacrificing everything that was me in favor or making my family happy and it made me bitter that he wasn’t doing the same. But…no one asked me to do what I’d done. In fact, he was always begging me to do less and to enjoy myself more, to outsource my responsibilities more and to take a break. The more that I listened and got back to the old me, the less resentful and unhappy I felt and the more I was able to appreciate and enjoy my family rather than seeing them as the reason that I wasn’t having fun anymore.
Remember what love is. Love should be unconditional and if you truly love someone, it shouldn’t be dependent upon them doing what you want them to do. If it is, you’re setting yourself up for failure. People are inherently flawed and at some point bound to let you down. True love is loving them in spite of their flaws and even more when they let you down than when they’re in complete compliance. There are certain treatments and circumstances like infidelity and abuse that should never be tolerated but for many of us, the things that we find our lessening for are minor and inconsequential in the long term.