Not too long ago I read an article that resonated SO much with me that I have continued to share the concept with my clients and friends, and think the person who wrote the article is right on target. Unfortunately, I cannot find the darn thing, but it made such an impression on me, I thought I would re-create the concept and share with all of you.
As mediators, we are always open to people saving their marriage if at all possible; even if they hire us to divorce them. If a couple come in and they are raising small children and thinking of separating, I completely empathize with them, as I am raising small children, working full time, trying to build a business and a comfortable life for my family. I know it is hard… nearly impossible, to do all of this and keep a happy, connected marriage.
Here we are, living in San Diego, working our butts off to afford to remain in San Diego, trying to balance work life and home life and… oh yea, give our spouse attention! Where is the time? There is none. Not to mention, regardless of whether you are a working parent or a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home dad, your kids want your attention, so when they see you, they demand it. And rightfully so! They have missed you all day while they are at daycare or school. They are young and growing and depend on you for SO MUCH! But of course, so does your spouse.
Here is where the article comes in. The author spoke of how marriages consistently fall apart during this time because the partners lose their connection. Or worse, they stay together only to divorce later, at the point where it is supposed to be all about them… more on this in part 2.
Ultimately, one of the partners feel neglected, both feel lonely and starved for attention, but even so, after a day full of over stimulation by work or kids, there is little energy or love left to share when you crawl into bed at night. So what is the answer? One possible solution can be to agree that right now, during these years when your children are young, and solely dependent on you, that your lives will be about them. That you will do your best to set aside time for each other, but it will not be as much time (or attention) as one would want.
However, this time with your children is also essential and also deserves to be a priority. So, is it possible you both agree you will jointly enjoy this time in your lives being parents? That once this time is over, you will have the time and energy to focus on each other? But for now, you will not pressure each other to be who you cannot be or do what you cannot do. Not that you will ignore each other, but that you will not be angry and grumpy because of one month, two months, even three months go by, and there has been zero intimacy. Instead, you focus on how amazing this time is, watching your munchkins grow up together, as a stable family unit, full of love and respect.
Granted, this is not ideal, but neither is expecting a spouse to be able to give you what they once gave before having one or more children to attend to. There just is not enough hours in the day and if parents do not also take time for themselves, to re-group, then they will not be good parents or good spouses. Just a thought…