Top 10 Tips For A Happy Relationship After Kids
Based on The Gottman Institute’s incredible research into what really makes for lasting, satisfying relationships, here are my top ten tips for a happy relationship after kids.
1. Never think you’ve finished getting to know your partner
Learn about their days, remember events, and ask open-ended questions (free download here). Make their thoughts and experiences important to you.
2. Stay respectful and complimentary
Show affection and express appreciation… out loud!
3. Look for the positive
(Unhappy couples only notice 50% of the positive things their partners do.)
4. Respond to your partner
When your partner speaks in your presence, they’re almost always looking to connect with you. Acknowledge them, and make them feel heard. (Read more about the three ways we respond to our partners and how to make your responses more positive here.)
5. Plan quality time together
Maybe you would prefer it to be spontaneous? But once you have kids prioritising your relationship means planning quality time.
6. Talk about your hopes and dreams, and support each other’s goals
This will bring you closer together and give you a sense of shared meaning.
7. Let your partner’s views influence your own
Remember there are two sides to every miscommunication and disagreement. Both realities are valid, so look to understand your partner’s feelings and position over convincing them of yours.
8 When things turn sour, repair them
Don’t ignore it, or pretend it didn’t happen. (You can download my list of phrases to help you to turn stressful or upsetting conversations around here.)
9. Work on the way you handle conflict
Raise issues gently, accept influence, make repairs, and compromise. Stay curious, looking for the needs and values expressed in your partner’s opinions.
10. Strengthen your friendship
Remember what brought you together – you liked each other! Honour that history by staying connected as you build a life together.
Happy Relationships After Kids
When I reflect on these top tips for a happy relationship after kids, one thing stands out for me. Ultimately what do happy relationships after kids come down to? Treating your partner like someone you really care about, respect and admire.
This isn’t always easy, of course. All relationships have their dark days. And I’m not sure that any of us consistently behaves in ways that are truly worthy of admiration every single day. (I know I don’t!)
But people have a way of living up to our expectations of them. As Dan Savage describes,
“That’s the only way you become ‘the one’ – it’s because somebody is willing to pretend you are. ‘The one’ that they were waiting for, ‘the one’ they wanted, their ‘one’.”
When you commit to rising above those darker days and starting again from a place of generosity and understanding with each new dawn, you can build a happy relationship that will make you and your kids proud.
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