Sometimes, toddlers know BEST!
I'm a family and relationship expert, but I'm not always the best wife. I noticed recently that I was so wrapped up in my other roles that I wasn’t paying as much attention to my marriage as I promised to. My husband is my best friend, but if I don’t focus on him more that could change. The funny thing is, I'm reminded of that so often by my role as parent. Our son, Cooper, is an active, happy toddler and we all love him desperately.
Watching him learn about life has taught me 5 key lessons that are so important for a long, happy marriage.
1. You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide
You know your kid's a good runner when other moms watch him and say, “Wow, your son is fast!” What he isn’t good at is hiding. His feet, body or bottom stick out every time. In marriage, sometimes we run away from each other and try to hide behind excuses in work, children, etc. However, we can’t hide from each other. The other person just sees you hiding anyway.
2. We ALL Need A Time Out
Life is stressful. There's a lot coming at us, and it's overwhelming from time to time. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just take time away. I set Cooper on the stair when he gets too rough or needs a break for a minute, and I need to do the same for myself. Rather than shutting my husband out or attacking him when things feel "off," I try to take some time to breathe and think about what my real goal is in the situation. Then I reengage in my relationship, and things usually go better.
3. Take A Chance, Even If You Might Get Hurt
We attend Gymboree and my 21 month old is the one jumping (or falling) off the highest equipment. He just dusts himself off, asks for a kiss and gets back to playing. He’s not worried about being hurt because he’s too engaged in living. We need to do this in marriage, too. Partners don’t say the things that need to be said until it’s almost too late. So rather than being afraid, I just plop down, say how I feel and ask how he sees things. Sometimes it's scary, but I always feel better in the long run.
4. A Good Hug Is All You Need
Toddlers need lots of physical affection from their loved ones, but deep down, so do we. If we want support and love, we don’t always turn toward our partner. It’s important to have friends and family to rely on, but your partner is supposed to be the main one. Stop, lean in and let him or her hold you. It can work wonders for your marriage to let your spouse be your best friend and primary confidant.
5. Playtime Is A Must
Many times I focus on the chaos of life and don’t just drop everything and play. That isn’t true of Cooper. He drops everything for a good song he wants to dance to and invites me to join in. How can we connect with those around us, including our spouses, if we don’t stop and play a bit together?
Other things in life sometimes seem more important at the time, but sometimes, you need to remember what you just knew as a kid. No matter what else may get in the way, your marriage must come first.
If you find yourself hiding from your partner and want to reconnect, get help from a trained Marriage and Family Therapist. Teresa Petersen Mendoza, MS, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author and owner of Family SOS, Inc. An expert in Relationships, Parenting, Divorce and Blended Families, she provides therapy and coaching to families of all types.