“We feel like two managers. Or like a brother and a sister. There is love, that’s not the problem, but we are like an efficient, well-oiled machine… without any passion left between us. What are we doing wrong?”
If you’re a parent, this might resonate. At least that’s one of the most common statements I hear from the couples with kids that visit my therapy practice.
The roles you play
Each of us plays many different roles in our lives and relationships – partners, bread-winners, friends or lovers, to name a few. When our children are born, automatically the parents/caregivers in us are born, too. And (unfortunately for the Lovers inside you) this role tends to drastically dominate over the others.
If I ask you which desirable qualities of a parent come to your mind, the list might include: Reliable, loving, consistent, predictable, available, there for the other, giving, loyal, calm, warm, accepting, forgiving, nurturing, etc.
But when you think of the desirable qualities of a lover, the list looks slightly different: Fun, daring, autonomous, creative, unpredictable, spontaneous, mysterious, new, undiscovered, naughty, etc.
Seemingly the opposite ends of the spectrum, but think about it more like of a Yin & Yang situation – you need both for balance. If you only spend a few hours per year as Lovers (a horror story, but a true story I’m seeing over and over again in my therapy sessions), and everything else is taken over by your Parental roles – how are you expecting the balance to be present? You might have an illusion of a well-oiled machine, but that’s exactly what it’s heading towards: a passion-less machine.
But as long as you both care, nothing is lost. Here are a few actionable tips on revitalizing the connection and rekindling the passion you had when you started dating (and before you became parents). Let me know which one you like the most.
Acknowledge and discuss feelings
Although it can be difficult to open up, one of the most effective solutions for rekindling a relationship is (you’ve guessed it!) communication. Sitting down with your partner and talking about how you’re feeling should not be overlooked, as this is an invaluable way for both of you to express yourselves. Without judgement or criticism, take the time to actively listen to what the other person has to say and remember that it’s ok to feel emotions quite intensely. Sometimes it’s worth having some difficult conversations first, to clean the air and make the space for rekindling passion. If you need help with it, check out these 8 tips on difficult conversations and the most common mistakes to avoid.
Make small, meaningful gestures to show your partner you care
Let your partner know that they are loved and appreciated with everyday gestures – even the smallest ones will make a difference! Listen to their stories, leave little notes around the house, bring them coffee before work or take on an errand you know they don’t want to do. Try to think back to those early days of your relationship and incorporate those little gestures into your current routines. By taking the time to express your love, you’ll hopefully start to feel more connected. This can help remind one another that despite the chaos and stress of everyday life, work and parenthood, you still care deeply for each other. And that’s an amazing springboard for the next steps, like…
Schedule regular quality time for your relationship
One of the best ways to bring back passion into your relationship is quality time. When planning it, focus on activities that BOTH of you enjoy – be it spending time indoor or outdoor, in nature or exploring the city. It has to be WITHOUT your offspring, so it’s crucial to find a kind soul (or a paid nanny) that would be able to look after them if they’re too young to be left alone. And it doesn’t have to be overly complicated or cost a thing – you can cook something new together, play with a DIY project around the house (unless that reminds you too much of your daily routine, then ditch it), stroll around the neighborhood or simply watch a movie. By having quality moments together without your kids’ distracting presence – so by giving each other your undivided attention – you’ll be able to reconnect on a more intimate level.
Plan exciting dates around bucket lists
One of my personal favorites! Plan dates that focus on things you’re (ideally both) interested in – or at least you’re (ideally both) curious and excited about. If you can start checking new things off your bucket lists and getting out of your comfort zone, even better. You can get your adrenaline rush from an ice-skating session, Tantra workshop or a bungee jump – they all should make you feel alive again (especially the latter!) The most important thing though is carving out time for just the two of you and being intentional about staying present for each other. Remember, these dates are meant only for the LOVERS – no children, household or work-related conversations are allowed.
What to do next
So here’s your call to action: grab your partner, your agenda and *schedule* quality time and dates together. Do. It. Now. Set an alarm and a reminder. If it’s not in your calendar, the chances of you “spontaneously” doing it are close to zero. We both know it. Yes or YES?
Now over to you. Tell me in the comments what’s YOUR favourite idea for a date or low-key quality time?
Let’s make the world a happier place, one couple at a time.