When my husband and I decided to start trying for kids, there was one thing I was absolutely adamant about! That our relationship (ie his and mine) would always come first!
Fast forward ten years and three children later (including twins) and my pre-mummy naivety is almost laughable. Between making lunchboxes, rushing out the door at 7:30am, keeping our bosses happy, school pick-up, dinner, bath and bed, we collapse on the couch crumpled and barely able to form a sentence. My before-kids self would be appalled – our relationship is not only NOT coming first, it’s coming a stoney last.
So I know that we should be sitting at the table eating dinner together after the kids are in bed. I can almost see my pre-mum version wagging her finger at me as hubby and I balance a plate of food on our laps while watching TV. We share a few tidbits about our day during the breaks but to be honest, both of us are too tired to make much effort to chat.
We do have occasional dates but we both find it really difficult to just shut-up about our jobs or the kids and talk about anything deeper. So I have started doing a bit of digging to see if there are any quick wins for our relationship.
Try This New Ritual
I stumbled upon an excellent post by Kristen Manieri, writing for Pop Sugar. She describes the new ritual her husband and herself are trying on their alone-time together:
“Rather than let the day’s headlines or our endless checklist guide our conversation (i.e. Did you call the roofer? Should I book the flight before it gets too expensive? Are you going to call the bank about those extra fees?), we anchor our interlude in two questions that have completely changed how we spend those 30 minutes together.”
The Two Questions
She goes on to talk more about those magical two question. They are simply:
“What would you like to be acknowledged for?” and “What would you like me to know about your life?”
She explains that these two questions encourage couples to delve deeper into their feelings and can’t fob off a conversation with surface chatter. They need to spend a minute or two reflecting on their emotions and sharing these with their partner.
Manieri talks more about what each question achieves:
“What would you like to be acknowledged for?”
“Being asked what I would like to be acknowledged for launches an internal inquiry that truly gives me pause,” says Manieri. “What is something I’ve done lately that deserves a little credit?”
This allows the responder to actually internalise their achievement, be it big or small. “I get to unearth and underscore my tiny triumphs for the sake of my own recognition and notice,” says Manieri. And then the couple can take turns chatting about each others achievements.
“What would you like me to know about your life?”
Manieri explains that this question has a different flavour to “how’s it going?” or “what’s happening Honey?”.
It’s actually recognising that even though married couples live together, they often may co-exist in parallel and may not actually fully understand what is happening in each other’s lives.
Don’t expect for every conversation to be deep and meaningful. It could very well be as shallow as chatting about what new recipe you tried to make for the kids the night before. But there is always the invitation to talk about something more significant, that may have been bubbling away just under the surface for a while.
I really love this idea of these two questions. I think it may just be the trick to jolt us out of our apathy and move us closer to be number one for each other again.
Do you have any magic questions or other solutions to bring you and your partner closer together? Share them with us in the comments below.