My husband and I try to connect on a weekly run. It is a great way for us to get in our workout together and to chat about the week. Last weekend, I was throwing out some ideas for Mojo and Moxie, and HE suggested this one – re-connecting with your spouse. If you stop by Mojo and Moxie on a regular basis, you know we wanted to create this blog for “mostly” women who are heading into the next stage of life as their kids are growing up and moving on. Not just healthy recipes, fun fitness and fashion, but real issues too. Issues that worry us, that complicate our lives and that are unique to this age and stage of life.
My husband said this is a real issue for men as well as women. Men too, have that desire for connection with their spouse. They want to establish a new, re-invigorated relationship for the future. If you know my husband, you will not be shocked to hear he offered to even write the post for me!! So in honour of upcoming Father’s Day, this musing is dedicated to re-connecting with our partners… (and no, I didn’t let him write it!)
The Good Ol’ Days… (ahem, well – they are over, so we can call them that now!)
Remember the days when we thought we would have little kids forever? When you and your partner were running the hall outside each child’s bedroom door – changing the bedwetter’s sheets, scooping up vomit from the bathroom floor into the toilet, or passing out dead asleep with the light on reading that favorite book for the 14th time?
Unfinished conversations between the two of you – interrupted by the genuine needs of these little people we were raising.
Then came the years when they no longer needed you to wipe their bums. Suddenly, you are sitting on your bums, and driving. I still recall a Mother’s Day card that one of my kids had to fill in written in Grade 1 – My mom is good at _____________________________
My child wrote DRIVING…
These were the crazy logistic years. The years when every single movement between 4 – 11pm had to be mapped out with such precision that if you missed something, or if all things didn’t fall into place perfectly – the whole evening could fall apart like a bad game of Jenga… Your partner became a ghost. Someone you might see in passing – you yelling the game plan as you run out the door – meals on the road – cars in and out of the driveway at all hours of the night.
Unfinished conversations between the two of you fuelled by lack of time spent in the same postal code…
Then suddenly, it gets easier. One child starts to drive; two start to drive – they don’t need you anymore to get them from place to place – and although you are still watching every activity and a big part of their lives, you do not have to divide and conquer like you once did. And then what?? Sometimes we get caught up in the parenting cycle, and almost use it as an excuse to avoid the difficult conversations around relationships and life with your partner. Remember him or her? The one you fell in love with – the one you chose to spend your life with…
Unfinished conversations because you just have nothing to say anymore or because you don’t know each other like you once did?
It can happen, but it doesn’t have to.
SO – heading into this new stage how do we ensure no more unfinished conversations? How do we show ourselves to our spouses as true partners and not just as “the mother’s / father’s of their children.” I think we need to think about what brought us together so many years ago and how we are going to foster it, cherish it, revel in it – not let it combust. We need to be committed to creating this new stage of marriage. We have been in the trenches together raising children and have come out the other side – both probably slightly different people than when we started. YAY! Now – what are we going to do with the rest of our lives together?
For me, I am re-evaluating what MY purpose is in this life. What do I want to achieve as an individual – what are my goals and dreams for the future now that our children are in the early stages of forging lives of their own? In doing this, it is helping to clear a path for us to create our goals as a couple and to an even better relationship. My husband can understand where my head is at – why at times I seem distant or down. Figuring this out for ourselves can be exhausting, and overwhelming. I firmly believe their are times in our relationships when we are not on the same page as our spouse – mentally, physically or emotionally. Sometimes it lasts an hour, or weeks or even months. The key is to recognize it, acknowledge it and talk about it. Relationships are full of peaks and valleys. We need to push through and refuse to give up.
As women, we get the added bonus of “menopause = hormone hell” as we get older. This can be difficult for your spouse / partner to get their head around and understand. Who wants to feel rejected and unloved… but this is sometimes what translates – unintentionally, to the people we love most.
The thing is – so many people think that great relationships just happen and that you don’t need to work at it. In reality, love is hard work. Staying in a committed loving relationship is tough, and it doesn’t feel good all the time. Love really is a decision. Creating this new life is going to have to involve some planning and effort. Think about who you were all those years ago and why you fell in love. Yes – you are different people, but together you are people who have experiences together, memories (good and bad) and have created this thing called LIFE. I would suggest that NOW IS THE TIME to have FINISHED conversations, to think about the special dates you had so long ago and re-invent them. It is time to find things to do together without kids as we move forward into this next stage.
Here are a few ideas I have collected and that we are starting to do in our relationship to re-connect…
DO THE UNEXPECTED – this can be anything – you know your partner best. Do something you know they would never expect from you.
NEW ADVENTURES – Try something new together! Have you always wanted to learn to sail, play squash, pick up a tennis racket? Do it – but do it together!!
A NEW KIND Of DINNER DATE – Plan dinner out on a school night – feels like a vacation from your week and a chance to connect.
FRIENDS – make time for your couple friends – schedules are starting to lighten up so take advantage of it.
ROMANCE – Hug, touch, hold hands…need I say more?
NETFLIX AND CHILL – If you have teens, you know the code. BUT, this is no joke. A strange phenomenon has come into play with streaming… many couples are re-connecting by picking Netflix shows together and having date nights that involve their fav. show and a little hand holding (wink, wink!)
SO – a challenge to all of us venturing towards this new stage in life – lets have the conversations, lets get to know our spouses again, and lets make our relationships bullet proof for all of the amazing years yet to come…
NO MORE UNFINISHED CONVERSATIONS
As always, let us know your thoughts…