How often have you had these conversations with close friends who have kids?:
Perhaps you hear someone lamenting how their other half no longer seems to have time for them because their mind is always on the baby and they can’t remember the last time where it was just the two of them…Perhaps someone else has confided that when they go away for their anniversary weekend the thing they’re most excited about is the full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep rather than the perceived dirty weekend away you’ve all been joking about…Perhaps you cant remember when you last resembled anything but a bedraggled, overgrown Yeti with un-brushed hair (hair just…everywhere) and you’re slowly forgetting the image of your partner naked…
And perhaps you haven’t really spoken in ages. Not really. Not about anything other than how work was and what the kids have been doing today and the bizarre contents of your toddler’s nappy.
I was having a discussion with some friends just this week about finding ways to live more in keeping with your true self. Somebody posed the question as to whether or not we enable our partners to live more in keeping with what they perceive to be their true self and what we do to facilitate that. We all shifted our feet uncomfortably and looked at the floor.
How much time do I truly invest in speaking to my husband about his goals, his dreams and ambitions anymore? Do I really know what his passion is in life?
Right now I know he’s in a job he can tolerate; it pays OK, its not entirely boring and his boss is OK which is a good thing because he’s experiencing some poor health and she helps alleviate that stress by allowing him time off when needed. I’m ashamed to say though, I don’t think I know what his dream job would be. He’s certainly never told me and I’m not sure I’ve persevered enough in finding out.
When did I last look at him and see the man behind the Dad and think about how I can nurture and be there for him as his partner?
I can’t remember. That’s a bit shit of me really. That needs some work.
It’s all too common a theme – partners dropping down the pecking order once kids arrive. It’s also a common contributing factor in the onset of postnatal depression – feeling as though you’re losing a grip on who you were before, who you are underneath and feeling as though your partner doesn’t see you anymore. I was surprised to read that 1 in 10 fathers experience postnatal depression (Source – https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/postnatal-depression-dads). That’s a whole load of depressed dads who need someone to notice what’s going on and invest in being there for them.
So my challenge to myself and to you today is this: What can you do today to show your partner you still see them as a person, and not as a parent? How can you nudge them closer to happiness?
I’ve booked my mum to come and babysit and tonight we’re off on a date night. It’s very last minute but very overdue and necessary. I thoroughly intend to find out what my husband’s true passion would be if time and money were no obstacle – and then I want to work out how I can support him to get there. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of replicating the relationship you grew up witnessing. I hope we can keep that at bay by talking to each other and not forgetting who we were before – and who we still are underneath.
What tips do you have for keeping your relationship with your partner in focus after having children?