By Nicole Koelewijn
I think some parents believe making time for each other in the form of date nights or regular moments without their children is “selfish” or not a priority in the scheme of family life.
I’m here to tell you that prioritising your romantic partnership is not only great for your relationship but it’s also highly beneficial for your children.
As parents, you are the cornerstone of your family. You are your child’s most important source of information when it comes to how they should think, treat others and what future goals they set for themselves.
Our example shapes their expectations for their own future romantic relationships. As much as we may think we’re good at hiding things from our children, they are intuitive and intelligent and constantly soaking up our behaviour.
Do we want our children to feel safe prioritising their own needs in their future relationships? Do we want them to have high expectations of affection and connection? Do we want them to approach arguments with a future partner as a united team against a common issue rather than taking an adversarial or combative approach to conflict?
I think most parents would answer yes to these questions.
Aside from these longer lasting impacts, investing time in your romantic partnership has more immediate flow on effects for your family. If you’re fulfilled and happy in your romantic relationship, you’ll find you have more energy to be the parent you want to for your children.
That’s why it’s not only unselfish to prioritise your partnership but it’s also necessary.
OK, so it’s easy enough to understand but how do we actually go about doing this?
1. Get clear on your ‘why’
There’s a lot of research to support that people are more likely to succeed with a goal if they can link smaller everyday actions to a bigger purpose behind this. If you can sit down together and talk about why it’s important to prioritise your relationship, following through on actions supporting this will be a whole lot easier.
These reasons will look different for everyone so it’s so valuable to have a conversation about why it’s important for you personally, as a couple and for the life you want to build together (in addition to the benefits for your children noted above!).
2. Plan ahead of time
Can you relate to the feeling of having a lot you want to do while you can’t do it and then as soon as you have time, you blank on everything on your list?
Overwhelm from options and indecision can prohibit us using the time we have how we want to. Think of scrolling through Netflix for half an hour trying to find something to watch, only to realise you now have a 15 minute window before you need to head to bed, lest a baby wakes up.