Today’s article is a guest post! Marissa is a licensed Mental Health Counselor who specialized in couple’s counseling and child development before starting her own family. She has been published in many academic journals and magazines.
We run ourselves ragged these days, and frankly, we’re stretched too thin. We’ve become the money makin’, dance team coachin’, play date rockin’, dinner cookin’, home decoratin’ Mamas we’ve always wanted to be. But that’s left little room for down time and has our heads spinning with everything that must be done without a moment to sit, breathe, or be.
Now take a look at that list again. What’s missing? Did you even notice at first glance that there’s no mention of romantic dinners, intimate conversations, or husband-wife time?
I know this idea may give you some chuckles or even bring forth a sarcastic snort, but the truth is we really are leaving our marriages out in the cold. Not only are we rushing though our daily to-do lists without much thought on the present moment, we’re skipping over the necessary things that will keep our relationships strong long after the kids have moved on.
Of course, this isn’t a one-sided thing. Our partners are likely just as busy as we are and have just as much difficulty prioritizing the present moment in our marriages.
So what does this mean for our relationships long-term? What happens to a marriage where neither partner is present?
What Being Present in Your Marriage Looks Like
There are a lot of buzzwords flying around these days that talk about living in the moment. We hear about being mindful, remaining present, and cultivating our awareness. But all these “woowoo”phrases are saying is to really make an emphasis to live in the now.
It’s so easy for us to get stuck in all of the distractions and demands of everyday life, but if we can make even the slightest effort to set aside a bit of time and prioritize our partners, we’ll see a huge change in the way our marriages thrive.
With that said, you don’t have to try and revamp your entire lifestyle. There comes a great sense of pride in being busy, involved, and accomplished. These things should not disappear from your life, rather, it’s about integrating everything together so that you feel a balance between your roles as a mother, a woman, and a wife.
Perhaps this means simply setting aside a small slice of time to reconnect. For instance, you and hubby can wake up just a half an hour earlier and enjoy your morning coffee together. This can help you establish a connection early in the day which can last until the two of you are together again at night. Take a few of the minutes to strategize your day and talk logistics. Iron out who is picking up the kids from practice and how homework, bath, and bedtime will look. But don’t waste the entire half an hour on this kind of talk. Try to spend at least 15 minutes sharing something or reminiscing about a special time in your relationship.
Maybe mornings don’t work and the two of you have a better chance of squeezing some time together at night. Try getting out of the house a bit and changing up your scenery. A quick break in routine can go a long way in freshening things up. Now that the weather is getting a bit nicer, head to the backyard and light a fire. Act like kids again and tell a scary story. Don’t forget the monitors if the babies are little. They were invented for a reason after all. Another thing to try is to cook a dessert over the fire. You could go with classic s’mores or try something new, but it’s a great way to do something sweet together – pun intended ; )
The Benefits of a Present Marriage
There is a ton of research out there that talk about the benefits of living a more mindful life. Remaining focused on the present can reduce anxiety, increase focus and concentration, and even open up opportunities for achieving your goals. And if living in the now has all of these benefits for the individual, imagine how your marriage can flourish if both you and your hubby are paying special attention to your relationship.
When both partners are focusing effort in their marriage their ability to work together skyrockets. Neither partner is likely to feel offended or want to stick up for their side of an issue when they feel as if their spouse is present. The need to fight for attention is diminished and the couple can listen to each other and collaborate more easily. Conversely, when you or your spouse is distracted it takes more effort to get on the same page and you’re more likely to get frustrated before you actually accomplish anything.
Another benefit of being present in your marriage is the potential for increased intimacy. I’m not just talking physical intimacy here, though that’s nice too. Really, I’m referring to the fact that you and your partner have the chance to feel so much closer if you focus on the immediate moment in your marriage.
Imagine getting into the kitchen and cooking dinner together. You could both be thinking of all you have to do the next day and rush through dinner just to get into bed. But, if you’d been paying attention, you would have noticed the way your knuckles brushed one another and you might have even gotten butterflies. How would that have shaped the night after the kids were in bed?
Lastly, being present opens up a great path for spontaneity in your relationship. Without distractions, you and your hubby can jump on an opportunity as soon as it presents itself. This is a great way to prevent things from going stale. A lot of times we think we can’t do something for fear of it interfering with the rest of our to-do list. But, if we’ve gone through, prioritized and integrated our obligations, we can free up the space, time, and energy needed to try new things together.
The How To
I don’t want you to think an increased connection happens with the wave of a magic wand. In fact, a lot of this is quite easier said than done. However, it’s not impossible to create a mindful marriage if you take small steps and allow them to build.
The first step in becoming more present in your marriage is to identify the factors that are diverting your attention. These marital “pain points” are the distractions that are preventing you from achieving the results you are hoping for with your partner.
In my house, the biggest pain point is housework. It just seems to pile up and we can never get ahead. I don’t like to ignore it, because it turns very quickly from a molehill to a ginormous mountain. However, if I were to do everything it takes to manage the house, I’d never see my husband.
Perhaps the housework is one of your pain points as well. If not, it may be your household finances, your extended family, work obligations, or parenting dynamics. Once you’ve sat down with your partner and figured out the main things that are preventing you from being present in your marriage, you can collaborate to develop a plan of attack.
This could mean combing through your monthly budget in order to hire a housekeeper. Or setting aside a small amount to combat the debt that is causing added stress. Maybe the two of you need to have a heart to heart with extended family and either ask them to step up or step out of your lives. When it comes to work, the two of you could set aside an hour where you have alone time to finish a project with the promise of having a date at home after.
Whatever it is that needs addressing, you and your spouse will feel enormously lighter once you’ve figured out how to eliminate it.
What ways have you become more present in your marriage? What were the results?
Marissa is a licensed Mental Health Counselor who specialized in couple’s counseling and child development before starting her own family. She has been published in many academic journals, Family Therapy Magazine, and writes a monthly column for fulltimemom.org.Her passion is helping first-time moms and moms with littles understand the psychology behind all things mom and baby. When she’s not writing, you can find her developing awesome products for her followers, enjoying her one-year-old daughter, or loving her fabulous hubby.