Do you want to know why many couples feel like the only thing they have in common is their kids? Because it is.
This is a common complaint among married couples. Even when you do make time for a date night you find all that you talk about is your kids. It can be upsetting to think that is all that you have in common, and it can generate a fear that once the kids grow up and leave the house there won’t be anything to talk about.
But don’t despair; the fact that you even notice this is a positive sign. And there is plenty you can do to change it. Chances are you have spent years focused on your role as a parent and not a whole heck of a lot of time focused on your role as partner.
Here are some things that can help:
Look For It
The reason we feel so connected at the beginning of our relationship is simple – because we look for it, we create it. As we are getting to know each other we seek out those “me too!” moments. We are specifically looking for ways to connect based on our initial attraction. We are physically attracted to someone and then look for data that backs up our hypothesis that this is a good match.
However, as time goes on we shift our focus from finding those similarities to the everyday tasks of life. For some couples the focus can shift from “me too!” to “seriously?” And this can cause a negative tone in the relationship. This is the stuff that gets people questioning, “did I marry the wrong person?” Chances are you chose well but haven’t been investing in your connection the way that you did when you first fell in love.
Make Time to Talk
Having things in common to talk about requires you to: 1) Talk 2) Have things in common.
How often do you spend time just talking? Turn off the TV, put down your phones, tell the kids to entertain themselves for a bit and talk! Talk about who you are and what matters to you. It is okay that this includes the kids, but hopefully there is more to each of you than the role of parent.
Parenting is an honor, a glorious part of the life experience, but it can’t be the sum total of who you are as a human being. At a minimum you had a whole different sense of self before your children were born. How connected are you to that individual? Do you still do the things that you enjoyed before you got married and became a parent?
Create What You Have In Common
How often do you spend time together creating new memories, sans the kiddos? What were the activities that you enjoyed the most when you first started dating? Those are the activities you need to be engaging in now.
Making your children feel special and a priority in your life is lovely. But some parents take this to the extreme and actually neglect their marriage relationship.
Your kids will live if you skip one soccer game and go do something fun with your spouse. Your kids will actually benefit from seeing his/her parents invest in their relationship. When your kids sense that your marriage is stable and a source of happiness their world will feel more stable and secure. Sure they love to have you cheer for them at their activities, but they will gain a more lasting sense of love when the also see their parents invested in making a marriage that works.
If you feel like you don’t have much in common it is probably because you don’t. Complaining about it won’t change it. Figure out what you need to do and start doing it. Go back to the beginning of your relationship:
- Look for the “me too!” moments
- Focus on what attracted you most to your partner originally
- Do the activities you enjoy most together
- Recreate some of your favorite dates
- Talk to each other
If you feel particularly disconnected from your spouse and don’t have a clue what to talk about try these 36 questions from psychologist Arthur Aron’s study about falling in love.
It doesn’t matter where you start, just start. Recognize that connection is something that needs to be nurtured. You should always be putting effort into your marriage and through conversations and shared experiences you will create what you have in common – the life you are building together.