1. Immediately have the hard talks. They normally do not take long. Do not try to “win.”
2. Find a good couples counselor and use them when you are having trouble cleaning out a wound.
3. Frequent, simple touches.
4. Travel in adventuresome ways to test yourselves as a team and rely on your respective strengths as individuals.
5. Foster and encourage each other’s passions, even though those passions take time and money from the family as a whole.
6. Do not let the love, care, and time children take trump the importance of the relationship.
7. There is something to the notion that people fall into one of five categories that appreciate: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts, and acts of service. Learn which one or two your partner especially appreciates, and take them seriously.
8. You have to value the institution of a committed relationship in general. What it means and offers in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’, and 80’s. If you don’t fundamentally value the institution of the committed relationship, do some deep work on trying to figure out why. That work could be therapeutic, academic, spiritual, philosophical, or some other approach.
Final thought. I heard a very educated woman I respect very much say as she reflected on her wonderful 60-year marriage, “𝙈𝙮 𝙝𝙪𝙨𝙗𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙄 𝙗𝙤𝙩𝙝 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚 𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙙𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙜𝙚 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙠𝙛𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚.” This is a quote by author and columnist Carolyn Kortge, who wrote weekly for the Registered- Guard Newspaper in Eugene, Oregon—Food for thought. By Matt Longtin of Matthew D. Longtin, LLC
Matt Longtin of Matthew D. Longtin, LLC has been a family law attorney for 25 years in Eugene, Oregon, and has been married to Sandie, his partner in love, life and adventure, for over 27 years. The Evolving Nest recently had the pleasure of talking with Matt and his lovely wife about why, in his experience, he feels relationships break down. It is a topic he has personally spent a lot of time thinking about, and we are honored that he willingly shares his wisdom with all of us. -Matt Longtin can be reached at https://www.longtinlaw.com/
Marriage is not easy, my friends. And we hear this a lot. We’re told that marriage takes work. But do we really hear that message? We may know that marriage isn’t a fairytale, but are we really prepared for the effort required to make marriage successful and fulfilling for the long haul?
Our 30th wedding anniversary is today and I’ve been reflecting on our marriage and marriage in general. Somewhere along the way, I went from being a Wife in the Moment to being a Mom in the Moment, and while in theory, I should have found a way to be both perfectly, in practice that wasn’t so easy.
Even if we think we know what to expect from marriage going into it, there are just some things we can’t be fully prepared for. We may be used to working through the obvious issues, but it’s hard to be prepared for the way having children can impact our relationship. Yes, becoming parents enhances our relationship in so many ways – but it will also most likely add some strain to it.
In the early years, we moms face constant demands on our time, endure exhaustion from sleep deprivation and feeling needed all the time. This often leaves us feeling touched-out and craving time to just crash on the couch. We may feel like we don’t have much left of us for our husbands, and not only does this cause our husbands to feel distanced, it often leaves us feeling guilty.
Before I became a mom, I was really good at being a Wife in the Moment.
Back when we were a couple, and before we became a family, everything was about us. Plenty of couple time, time spent with friends, time to exercise together, time for trips together. We invested so much beautiful time in each other. Of course, I’m well aware of the guidance that reminds us that a happy family is dependent upon a happy marriage. And that the marriage relationship should always be paramount. I’m just going to be honest here, and I think many moms will relate….sometimes this is easier in theory than in practice.
Even after we became parents, the change wasn’t immediate. It happened gradually. We slowly lost some of “us” along the way. Little things added up, and less time devoted to each other exacerbated other issues that would have otherwise been tended to and worked out. Spoiler: we have found our way again and worked out these issues. Where there is love, there is hope. It sounds obvious, but the first step forward in hope is to be mindful of investing consistent time in the “us” relationship. Date nights are great, but simple time together is recharging, too. It can vary by the week, as long as there is a conscious connection. A walk, coffee, or iced tea on the patio and eating dinner separately from the kids are all easy ways to create a connection.
While time is an essential building block of a strong relationship, another important factor in strengthening our love and relationship is good communication. Being tuned in to how we are feeling and then being completely open and sensitive in how we share that. Sometimes there’s accumulated resentment over past disagreements or negative patterns that make it harder for us to communicate from a place of love. When this happens, there is no shame in seeking help. I can attest to the healing power of couple’s therapy. Having a neutral person listen and guide us back to healthy communication, and facilitate us sharing and working through our feelings and needs, was less complicated than it sounds. And it was transformative for our relationship. As couples, we should never stop working on our relationship. Life will throw us curveballs, but it’s up to us how we choose to deal with them.
Love changes over time. We may know that with our minds, but feeling it with our hearts is a whole different thing. What begins as butterflies and dreamy love transforms into deeper, through-the-ugly, intentional love. We took vows on our wedding day and we must choose to keep those vows. We must consciously choose to love each other each and every day…and strive to be both a ‘Wife in the Moment’ and a ‘Mom in the Moment.’
Sydnei Kaplan is Mom to two of her greatest blessings – both in college – and wife to David. She left a marketing career when she became a mom and never looked back. Along the way she discovered her soul’s true calling and found joy not just in raising her own children, but in supporting friends along their journeys. Currently she is a part-time preschool assistant and has rediscovered her passion for writing atMom in the Moment, her recently launched blog. You can also find her words on Collegiate Parent, Living the Second Act, The Real Deal of Parenting, Grown and Flown and Her View From Home.