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The Cycle of Love

The most amazing book a couple who are transitioning to parenthood should read is Becoming Us – The Essential Relationship Guide for Parents by Elly Taylor.  So often we hear new mums and dads relationship struggles in the early stages of their new family that even by understanding where they sit on the cycle of love, would bring more peace and harmony to their relationship as they move to the next chapter of their life.

Elly breaks down the cycle of love into three parts:

  • Coming together
  • Growing apart
  • Growing together.

Coming Together is when couples come together for the first time.  There is excitement in the air.  We show the other person the best parts of ourselves and during this time we are attentive, caring, agreeable, available and we spend a lot of time together.

Growing Apart is when couple may sense that they are drifting apart as they start to re-establish some independence that we once had before we met.  We start to re-engage with friends and activities instead of spending all our time together.  It also shows other sides about the other person which can develop a deeper relationship with the other person.  Most couples would see this as a sign that the other person may simply not be into them (I know as that is pretty much how I felt in all my relationships lol) but it can be a good stage in the relationship.  We get to see the person for who they really are and we can embrace these differences as this is simply another part of them (I never thought I would be immersed in the world of Ironman Triathlons until I met my husband).  This stage is a ‘continual development revealing and sharing of ourselves that keeps a long term relationship fresh, interesting and exciting’.

If a couple have a baby it bring even more difference.  Becoming a parent challenges us to become even more of ourselves and this may mean that there needs to be some negotiation with our partner.  How we handle these differences will have a major impact for our family’s future.  These differences won’t necessarily be a bad thing if we love our partner for their uniqueness but because parenthood brings about a fuller person it is here that it can create conflict.

Growing Apart can feel threatening, anxiety provoking and uncomfortable. But it is a normal, healthy stage in the life cycle of love and serves a very important function.’  This stage is a great stage where couples can become great friends.  Couples get to know each other, accept and admire each other for who they are and get to know those quirky and annoying habits.  Relationship and parenting issues can only be resolved through openness, honesty, empathy and understanding.  We need to grow new roots for the stability of the family.  If both members of the family are able to spread their roots, the relationship will be stable.  If one member only spreads their roots, then most likely the relationship will topple.    These roots will be continually tested as our children grow up into adults.

Nevertheless, it is important that couples make the effort to stay bonded.  All relationships need work so it is important to keep building our friendship.

Growing Together stage ‘we realise our mutual responsibility to our relationship, our interdependence.  We begin to recognise that when we give to our relationship, it bears fruit that can be enjoyed by both of us.’  We feel comfortable in coming together and equally comfortable in spending tome apart.

The mastery of the Growing Together stage is being able to balance personal and relationship growth to develop our own family – us.  Each of us will be a better parent if we are supported by the other.  The relationship we co-create acts as a security blanket for our child – it gives them a sense of safety, trust and warmth.  Becoming a mother or a father isn’t just a commitment to our child.  It’s also a recommitment to our partnership.


A Deep Friendship with Partner Leads To Happy Marriages

Do you have a deep friendship with your partner?   Do you know that a deep friendship with partner leads to happy marriages?

After reading The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, PH.D and Nan Silver, I have realised the importance of having a deep friendship with your partner in order for it to lead to a happy marriage.  John describes this friendship ‘as having a mutual respect and enjoyment in each other’s company.  These couples tend to know each other intimately – they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams.  They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but in little ways day in and day out.

Most marriages or partnerships start off well with a lot of positivity and there would be little thought of the marriage ending in divorce.  However, over time little resentments can build with particular quirks, annoyance etc.  After the birth of a child, the marriage is further tested as the attention goes from the partnership to the child.  Then you add sleep deprivation and hardship into the mix and there is no wonder why so many marriages end after the first few years of a child coming into the family.

Now if you are thinking my goodness my marriage is going to end in divorce.  There is a lot you can do between now and then.  In my Reinvigorate Your Relationship with my Partner we will work together step by step so that we can rebuild the friendship and take you off the divorce statistics.  Believe me my program is so much cheaper than a divorce and it has more value than a divorce can possibly give you.

The question is do you want to reinvigorate your relationship?

Postnatal Depression Effects on Relationships

Steve and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary this week and I thought I would take the time to reflect on postnatal depression effects on relationships.  It is tough!  But it does not have to destroy your relationship.

We often hear women/men saying why doesn’t my partner understand?  It is virtually impossible for a partner to truly understand what you are going through if they have never had a bout of depression.  You can not imagine how hard the black cloud is to get out of.  The suffocation it feels.

You and your partner also had dreams of being a parent and no one dreams that they would have PND.  No one expects this illness as part of their transition into parenthood.  But it does happen and PND can happen to anyone. No one chooses it to happen.

Nevertheless, it is very hard on relationships and once you really get on the road to recovery from your illness, you can start strengthening your relationship.  For me, I was extremely lucky that I had an extremely supportive husband and family.  He did not understand it but he supported me all the way.  I said some horrible things to him along the way and he just couldn’t understand how I could feel little love for both of the girls.

So, how did we get through it?

  • Although he may not have wanted to hear my feelings, I was honest with him.
  • I held his hand a lot to keep me grounded.
  • We told each other that we loved each other.
  • I kept getting help and I did whatever I had to do for the love of my family.
  • I worked really hard to put strategies in place to keep me well.
  • We worked on our friendship which is the base of all relationships.
  • I kept trying and trying.
  • I started to get better and became more affectionate.
  • He listened and didn’t always try to fix things.  You need someone to listen.

Steve and I have always had a strong sense of friendship which one of the most important aspects of relationships.  When Steve was diagnosed with depression as a result of everything we have been through, it was easier because at least I knew what he was going through.

A visualisation that helps me through the tough times of his depression is that I picture an invisible bubble around me that no matter what it can not be penetrated.

If you are looking for help to get your relationship back on track, look at my coaching program Reinvigorate Your Relationship and sign up for a free Reinvigorate Your Relationship Coaching Session.

Relationships change with a child.

A lot of mums and dads are amazed that relationships change with a child.  Before a child is born, you have a lot of time to be with each other and you definitely do not get woken up in the middle of the night.  You also have your partners attention all the time when you are together.

However when a child is born, it does change couple’s relationships.  All of a sudden your attention focuses on your child and less on each other.  Your time is taken up looking after your children 24/7 through feeding, bathing, playing and sleeping so it is natural for families with new children to sense a change in their relationships.

There are a few simple strategies that families can use to help keep the bond going with each other:

  1. Try and have dinner together once your child has gone to bed
  2. Thank each other for things that they do to help
  3. There are plenty of ways to say I love you
  4. There is a lot of love simply through touch of the face, hand etc.
  5. Acknowledge that being a parent can be tough.

If you would like to reinvigorate your relationship then have a look at my program as all relationships need work.