By Heather Greaves
Reiki Teacher, Yoga Instructor and Holistic Counsellor
Keep the love alive: Why putting your relationship last is risky
Everyone knows that when kids come into your life, as mums, we tend to put ourselves last including our relationship with our partners. Where we were used to having time to focus on each other, we now only have energy for the kids and day-to-day living. This often leads to sadness, frustration, miscommunication and disappointment for couples.
My friends often ask me how my husband and I manage to look so happy and in love after 16 years and 2 children together. I say, ‘Because we are very happy and secure within ourselves and we enjoy sharing that with each other.’ We see our relationship as a choice not a challenge. And, although we both live with the accepted beliefs around the sanctity of marriage, we agreed from the very beginning that if at any time we were not heading in the same direction with no sign of a re-route back together, we would end our marriage. Happiness is more important to us than forcing something that is not there.
It has always been more important for us to know that we are in this together because we want it and not for any other reason. We recognise that it does neither of us, nor the children any favours by ‘hanging in there’ if that is not what is truly in our hearts to do. Doing so would only teach our children that it is more important to sacrifice their happiness and wellbeing for the sake of someone else’s…and that is just not fair for anyone!
Making time for each other with and without the kids is essential. For us, this means nightly downloads; one call during the day; always telling each other we love each other at the end of each call and at bed time; daily kisses, especially the last thing before we fall asleep; regular dinner dates; weekends away; and now as they are older, week long trips at least once a year.
So often I see clients who are freshly retired, the kids are grown and left the nest and suddenly they are face to face with a person they know very little about and in many cases, don’t really enjoy the company of! My job then becomes assisting them to remember and reconnect with what first attracted them to each other and rekindle some of that buried stuff from life’s ‘to-do’ lists. This whole process would be unnecessary if people would just take the time to keep in the loop of each other’s lives along the way and find common ground to enjoy together. This doesn’t mean you have to participate in everything that interests you both. In fact, I believe it is those things that you can each keep for yourselves and yet appreciate about the other person, listening as they tell you all about it that keeps the love alive. This shows respect and an honoring of another’s path even if it is different to yours.
Many people have this concept that someday they will find that one person that will always be there for them and ‘make them happy’. This is, unfortunately, a sad fairy tale with no happy ending. No one can make you happy. It is up to you to do that for yourself. And when you do, you might just get lucky enough to find someone that can enjoy you too…and vice-versa, of course!
Acceptance, respect, appreciation and similar goals at the beginning and throughout the relationship will give it the legs for the long haul. Enjoy each other and above all HAVE FUN TOGETHER if you want a successful partnership! After all, life is too short to be anything but happy!