There is no need to continue fighting over who needs a break more....
Are You, Your Marriage, Your Family Falling Apart? So many relationships and families are being torn apart due to competing demands. Undefined marriage roles, both husband and wife working, unprecedented economic challenges and demanding childrens’ academic and sports schedules leave couples feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and feeling like they are losing their mind.
There is a way back to some sanity. Rather than blaming your relationship or your kids for your irritability, it is time to look at how your family is balancing the, “me”, “we” and the “us” in life. As I have been taught repeatedly when flying on a commercial airline, “put the oxygen mask on yourself before placing it on your child”, or hearing, “don’t try to fill up someone’s cup when your pitcher is empty”, it helps me remember that we cannot give wholly to others until we are taking care of ourselves first. If we are emptied of energy, we have nothing to offer others.
Same goes for couples and families. Both men and women when entering a relationship need to remember that the focus cannot be on only raising children, they must FIRST maintain the “me” and the “we” before the “us”. “Me” maintenance is staying connected to something bigger than ourselves and our limited resources when being exceptionally challenged by life circumstances. For some that is a “higher power”, to others, “God, a tree or Buddah”. Whatever your personal belief, you must have a foundation to lean on to provide stability and faith to get you through the tough times.
Once that is in place, we hopefully have developed through our school years while living with parents, a sense of “self”. After we leave mom and dad we learn to be emotionally and financially independent which ultimately frees us to choose who and when we love. We choose our partnership and not out of desperation or fear of being alone. We continue our own personal hobbies, friendships, activities, “down time” and focus on self improvement. We do not relinquish a sense of self when entering a relationship.
“We” maintenance once in a relationship or marriage, is the focusing on assuring “we” time where the focus is on the courtship. Where both parties concern themselves with pleasing the other person, hearing their partners desires, concerns and opinions in productive, respectfully communication. The couple ensures there is adequate, consistent time in their monthly routines to schedule in not only the “me” and “us” time of the family but also the “we” time. This is accomplished by scheduling regular alone time apart from the family to enjoy hobbies together, get together with other adults and regular adult “play”, including sensuality, affection and sexuality.
Often men are accused of having sex as their number one priority in relationship. Most men will want to leave a relationship because they no longer share hobbies or have fun with their wives or girlfriends which is contrary to some woman’s beliefs that men leave due mostly to sexual issues. This is where the focus is 100% on maintaining the couples’ satisfaction which sets the tone of the family’s overall sense of happiness and stability. This is where couples role model gender identity, how loving partners treat one another and overall sets the course as a blueprint for child(rens) lives.
“Us” maintenance is the focus on the kids. There is where regular family outings are scheduled in addition to family down time which include movie nights, game time or some indoor activity. This includes when the couple plans goals for the children and discuss parenting issues among themselves. This is the time to increase parent/child bonding and forge many wonderful family memories. You are probably more familiar with being caught up in the ideals you brought from your family upbringing. You picture what a husband should be or do, or a wife. You look at your marriage and family and feel it pales in comparison to your ideals. You find yourself barely having time to go to the bathroom while you rush kids to school or soccer practice then rush home to make dinner, have them complete homework and start all over again the next day after falling exhausted in bed without energy left to be intimate with your partner (or some similar version).
Very few couples today schedule time to rejuvenate, time to grow their relationship or build quality relationships with their children. Couples resort to answering whetever competing demand screams loudly enough for the moment to spur them into action. Furthermore, in the midst of these demands, couples’ harbor ideals of marriage and parenthood that are unrealistic.
The way out of feelings of insanity is to schedule “Me” “We” and “Us” time just like a business. Each day of the month, fixed schedules from each family member is listed on the calendar with the variable “Me” “We” and “Us” time added in that is tailor made for your family.
Sheryl E. Woodhouse LMFT is a licensed marriage family therapist in Mission Viejo CA. She works with individuals, couples and families to help restore balance in varied situations. You can contact her by Google: Sheryl Woodhouse or www.sewseeds4familyhealing.com.