Nothing puts strain on a relationship like children.  For many couples, we dream of the day we start our own family and when it finally happens, we dream of the time when we had time, space and sleep!

While our kids bring love and often meaning to our lives, they also take up most of our attention.  It can be difficult to maintain a loving relationship when there is often underlying resentment from one or both parties.  In the case of one parent staying home as carer, the other can be perceived to have an uninterrupted life with no consequence to the fact that this little person has completely changed the way of life.

Daily life is not glamorous.  It’s hard to feel enthusiastic about cooking, cleaning and shopping, often without acknowledgement or thanks. This can be even more compounded when a partner who works full time seems to have coffees and lunches, gets feedback and bonus’ and sometimes even gets to travel! #livingthedream

So how can we push these resentments aside, in order to serve our family (at a cost to ourselves)?  Why is it important to work on our relationship skills, as well as our parenting skills?  Here’s some important reasons why.

  1. Your children learn relationship skills from you. Not just the way you are with your partner, but all the people you interact with each day.  Every conflict we deal with is saying to your child ‘When times are tough, this is what we do’.  If your actions replicate yelling, harsh words or physically lashing out, this is what your child will grow to learn as ‘normal’.
  2. The more you bottle up your resentment, the more likely it will come spilling out in a spectacular fashion. Letting your partner know when you are unhappy about something is the basis of a solid relationship, however the words that you use matter.  Keeping conversations as objective as possible and only talking about your own feelings will ensure that blame is not cast.  As soon as someone feels attacked, they retaliate with defense and this is a vicious cycle in which no one comes out feeling satisfied.
  3. It’s easy to forget who you are. With so much attention given to our children, we often put ourselves at the bottom of the list.  They say the days are long, but the years are short, and they were right.  Before you know it, those little people need you less… and then what?  If you don’t keep your relationship alive in the years of little kids, it can be very difficult to get it back when they are older.  You either grown together or grow apart… and if you want to grow together you need to invest regular time and love into each other.
  4. There was a reason you loved your partner in the first place. You obviously chose this person because they ticked your boxes as a partner and a parent.  Try and arrange for regular ‘date nights’ without the pressure of your children, for the sole purpose to reconnect and remember why you decided this person was the one for you.

Relationships are hard at the best of times, however adding the responsibility of children to the mix and it’s even more challenging.  Modelling a healthy, loving relationship to your children, no matter what your family dynamics look like, will let your child know that you respect yourself and your partner – and this will teach them to do the same as they grow up.