Finding the time to better your relationship can be hard when you’re a busy parent, especially when your babies are still little (like preschoolers). But there are certain things you can do that require only a little extra effort to better your chances for a successful relationship. It’s easy for your partner to get lost in the woodwork while you’re managing a household, parenting, working, etc. But you still have to let them know that you’re there for them and that you care about them.
I realize that I am one of the lucky few when I say that I met my other half at the age of 16. By “my other half” I truly do mean the other half of my heart, my brain, my life. This man has been my rock, my foundation, and my biggest support system through every moment of my life for the past nine years. He may not understand what it is exactly that I’m trying to do, but he’s always willing to listen and help however he possibly can. This, in my eyes, is the greatest form of support. He expects nothing in return but wants to see me happy with whatever adventure I am currently on.
There are some days I just don’t know how he tolerates me (yes, I know this is my anxiety/depression talking) but he does it every moment of every day, even when I really am being a pain in the a**. He has never given up on me though, even when I’m hard to love and making life more difficult than it needs to be. Relationships are hard work, and if anyone has ever told you just find the one you love the rest will do itself they’re lying. You can’t just expect a relationship to be a success because you both love each other. I’m sure any of you in a committed relationship can vouch for that.
We’ve put a lot of effort into our relationship, both as a couple and as parents to our wonderful little boys. We wouldn’t be as happy and successful as a couple as we are if we didn’t face our ups and downs with the united front that we are. There were definitely a few learning curves and a quite a few lessons we learned along the way.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout the nine years I’ve spent with Kenny:
- You have to trust your partner. This is THE SINGLE BIGGEST factor in any relationship. If you don’t trust each other, everything will become a fight and you’ll always question each other’s intentions. I’m not saying that if you’re in a new relationship to fully trust the other person with no reason to do so, but you have to build a foundation of trust if you want your relationship to stand the test of time. We didn’t always trust each other fully, we questioned each other’s actions, we made mistakes. But, slowly we showed each other that we were willing to do whatever it takes for each other and we built that foundation of trust into what it is today.
- Give your partner the space he needs & he should do the same for you. If you’re having a bad day, you really don’t want someone stuck to your hip nagging you about everything. Okay, I’m guilty of this. If I think Kenny is upset I do tend to ask multiple times what is wrong or if he’s okay. But I still give him time with his thoughts and believe him when he says he’s okay. The repeated asking is a fault of my anxiety because I always fear I’ve done something wrong when I know that I haven’t. Let him enjoy doing things he likes to do, go hang out with his friends, or just relax after work and watch TV. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t have to help you with parenting or household things, but sometimes we all need a bit of space to clear our minds and collect our thoughts.
- It’s okay to like different things! I really don’t think it’s realistic to expect your partner to enjoy every single thing that you enjoy. I have a deep love of reading and silence, while Kenny hates silence and would rather not read. That’s okay! It really is. I can do the things I like and it gives him a chance to do the things he enjoys. I’m always willing to give his interests a shot, but I know that he doesn’t expect me to like golfing, or watching football, or playing video games.
- Parent together, not separately. You’ll form a stronger bond if you stick together on parenting decisions. You don’t have to always agree on parenting choices, but you should make a decision together and stick to it. If bedtime is a certain time, stick to that no matter who is doing the bedtime routine. This is one thing we do with our boys, for example, if I were to put one of my boys in time out, we agree that I should be the one to give the go-ahead for it to be over. We don’t overstep each other on decisions with the children because that just shows our children that we don’t fully respect one another, which in turn will cause them to have less respect for us.
- Be supportive! Like I said, no matter what course I choose to take with my life I know that Kenny will support it. This man spent seven years of his life being a stay-at-home-dad because I wanted to work and didn’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom. I am so thankful to him for that. Now I can appreciate his exhaustion when I would come home and he would be ready for bed. We’ve since switched roles, but I’m grateful that he was okay with me working for so long. Now he is fully supporting my decision to write this blog, even though I’ve been up till 1 am almost every night trying to get everything up and running. He even listens to my rants when I can’t figure something out (even though he has no idea what I’m talking about) and tries to offer suggestions.
- Have date nights. Don’t ever let the dating phase die out. I know it’s not possible to take date night as often as when your relationship began, before kiddos, but you still need it. You both need it. Take one night a month to get all fancy for each other and do something you both enjoy. Kenny and I actually go bowling on many of our date nights and we love it. Sometimes we even get rid of the kids for the night just to sit and home and quietly enjoy each other’s presence. Other nights, we go out with friends (mutual friends) and just let loose. We both always feel refreshed and re-bonded after these nights, and it’s a great way to reconnect after a busy month of working and parenting.
- Admit when you’re wrong and apologize. This goes for when you’re being a jerk too. Yes mama, we can all be jerks sometimes. I admit it, I’ve gone a morning without coffee and been extra snippy with Kenny. But, I always apologize when I cool down and realize how nasty I had been. They need it, and they’ll do it too when they’re in the wrong if they see you so willing to admit mistakes and apologize for them. That is, if they’re worth keeping around. We all get a little hot-headed and that’s just part of human nature, but own up to it and be an adult about it.
Every relationship is going to have struggles and you’re going to butt heads once in a while. It’s a guarantee. But if you know how to manage them and stay connected with your partner, you’ll set yourself up for a lasting and healthy relationship. Plus, how cool is it to live with your best freaking friend? I mean come on, this man hears all of my “girl-talk” and whining. He’s gotta be my best friend to put up with that for almost nine years (and many, many more to come).
I honestly think that I could keep going because I’ve learned so much from growing up with Kenny by my side but I’ll leave you with these major points in a successful relationship. Ponder them for a while. Drop a comment, share the love, and feel free to add your suggestions in the comment box below. I love to hear from my followers!