Are you one of those well-meaning mothers who over-services her children, always assessing, planning, organizing, worrying? Do you focus so much attention on your kids and your home that you sometimes forget about that guy over there in the corner? You know the one we mean—your husband?
There’s another very real casualty of hovering mothering (aside from the mom herself and the children) and that’s the husband. We’re all focusing so much attention on our kids, making up for time when we’re at work or frantically trying to be the best, most diligent moms we can be, that it’s easy to slip into the mode of practically ignoring the men in our lives. Or only paying attention to them when they irritate us, which seems to happen all too often.
How couples operate can be pretty mysterious. What works for one is disastrous for another. Ever been away on a trip with another couple and wondered how on earth they manage? Observing someone else’s rhythms, watching the give and take (or just the give!), and wondering how they can stand each other’s foibles can be very illuminating!
Some have financial struggles but have never been happier; some have all the money in the world but can’t stop fighting. Sometimes you might envy their relationship; sometimes you wonder how they make it through the day without screaming, “Get me out of here!”
Of course, there’s no blueprint for how to be happy in your marriage. Whether you met and fell in love as youngsters, expecting life to be one long fairy tale, or connected as more established adults, with children or stepchildren in tow, your relationship with your mate will change over time. Not might, will. If there isn’t any room for growth and change, you’ll be in for some serious heartache.
If you’ve ever watched a soap opera, read a romance novel, or seen a chick flick, you most likely have unrealistic expectations about marriage and relationships. According to these sources, they’re supposed to be full of thrills, romance, wealth, and of course, lots of heart-pounding sex. But countless marriages become fractured or end in divorce because of these unrealistic expectations. In 2004, the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University conducted a report whose key finding was: “For the average couple marrying in recent years, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation remains close to 50 percent.”
Here’s the good news: mothers gave us tons of insight into how to achieve better teamwork and greater intimacy! From the information we gathered, the main cornerstones of a realistic modern relationship boil down to:
- Partnership: You’re a team, and members of a teamv back each other up, help each other out, have each other’s best interests at heart.
- Communication and Compromise: It’s sometimes a pain to have to spell things out, state your case and make sure you know his, and then be willing to meet someone in the middle.
- Trust and Respect: Without trust it’s hard to open up and allow yourself to be vulnerable. When there’s mutual respect, any challenge can be more easily overcome.
- Intimacy: Being physically connected encourages tenderness, sincerity, and empathy.
- Having Fun Together: Life is short and having fun is good!
How often do we get sidetracked by our many responsibilities and forget to have fun with our mates? We disregard the joy of being intimate. We overlook the simple happiness of silently walking together, hand in hand. Is it really so hard to rediscover the bonds you shared with your husband when you were both still wide-eyed and full of hope? Some ideas we uncovered through our outreach for ways to reconnect are:
- Sleep in a Strange Bed. With him! If there’s any way you can pull it off, the number one way to reconnect is by spending time together away from the hubbub of ordinary life. Try going to a hotel or borrowing a friend’s country cottage for a night.
- Do it as a Couple: Join a salsa class, take cooking lessons, or find a shared creative outlet that gets you out of the house together.
- Spice up Your Date Nights: Instead of dinner and a movie, go to a cabaret, a concert, a book reading, a horse race.
- Get Sweaty Together: Go running or try hot yoga. Ella, mother of two from California, started sailing regularly once every weekend with her husband (an activity they’d loved when they started dating).
- Sneak Out: A short walk late at night after the kids are in bed or early in the morning before they get up, can be totally invigorating.