The early years with young kids is often remembered as a sleep- deprived time accompanied by unavoidable squabbles with our partners. This may seem like a rite of passage, but is there a way for parent couples to stay connected in the face of the everyday resentments that can pop up along the way?
John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman think there is. The Gottmans are psychologists who are known for more than three decades of research on marital stability and divorce prediction. Their 2007 data revealed that 67% of couples expressed marital dissatisfaction during the first three years of their baby’s life with the remaining one third of couples indicating overall marital contentment.
The Gottmans have written many books and have come up with a user-friendly method of staying connected within marriage and partnerships. What I love about their approach is that it makes sense and it really works when you give it a try. Check out the first two principles of the Gottman’s, “Sound House” theory:
Love maps describe how well you really know and understand each other’s inner world. This means practical things like knowing whether or not your spouse takes milk in his/her coffee but also having an awareness of each other’s hopes, dreams, fears, and disappointments. Love maps also encompass knowing how your partner would feel given a certain situation based on their prior experience and the family they grew up in.
Fondness and admiration Most couples I talk with complain that they don’t feel appreciated. Being seen and validated is a universal need that we all have dating back to when we were young children ourselves. Finding a way to feel warmth and admiration may seem tricky if you are already getting caught in that game of “who does more” (with the kids, chores, work, etc.). However, respecting and loving each other is vital to creating an opening for change. So, if you want to feel appreciated you are going to have to try to notice and comment on what your spouse is doing right.
Love Maps and Fondness and Admiration are the first two of seven principles to help couples connect and build stronger relationships.
Reconnecting with your partner after kids takes some effort but it is really worth the investment! For more information on the Gottman Sound House approach, check out this link.