*Sigh.* This is a sleepy post. I thought about this last night, as I got up for the up-teenth time. At some point, as I'm stumbling along the hallway I thought about how every night, from when we put the kids to bed to the time the alarm goes off in the morning, it's all an adventure that I have no idea which direction it's going to take.
Maybe no one wakes up. Those are glorious nights. The ones that you aren't even cognizant of the fact that they are amazing until you wake up in the morning and think "hell yeahhhh, I didn't get up last night."
Then there is every other night since having children. Where there are a million different things happening in the middle of the night. Those adventurous nights you can not predict. Maybe one, both or all of the kids wake up. Someone needs a drink of water. They lost their stuffed animal. A mysterious illness occurs. Someone falls out of bed, sometimes multiple times in the night (how does this happen!?!). You wake up to them heavy breathing over your face. A lot of times in our house, like last night, it is a combination of children and furry things waking us up. Heaven forbid a thunderstorm happens. No one is sleeping on those nights.
Remember what an adventurous night used to be before kids? Maybe you and your partner hit the town, going from party to party, bar to bar, letting the night lead you and just following the fun. You didn't know what was going to happen and you were okay with that. You were ready and up for anything.
Now, it's a little different. You aren't getting sleep but not by choice. Hopefully you have a great partner by your side, offering encouragement, and you are tackling these adventurous nights like a team.
If you are having trouble with your partner, you feel like you aren't tackling this as a team. You are frustrated and feeling like you bear more of the brunt. You have tried to talk with your partner but the conversation gets stuck and nothing gets resolved.
If this is you, I can help you have these conversations. I've worked with many couples on sharing more of the work load. I've helped them see things from the other person's perspective, no matter how many times the other person has tried to explain it. Sometimes it's helpful to have a mediator in the middle, explaining and clarifying to help each partner communicate. And finally, we work on learning how to communicate with each other in a way that gets you heard. We change up communication so it is effective at creating connection, understanding, and cooperation. This is one of the most important skills successful couples learn.
So to sum it all up, kids add adventure. A different kind of adventure. It's tough, research has shown having young children is the hardest time in our lives. No wonder it has an impact on our relationship!
Corrin Voeller is a relationship therapist in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. She does in-person and online counseling and coaching with couples and individuals to improve the relationships in their lives. She lives with her husband, children, and extremely fat dog.
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