Earlier this week, John and I got to spend time together grocery shopping at the supermarket - just us! Yes, something so trivial can be romantic, an opportunity for connection, and conversation :)
"Hey darling... can I give you something around Avery - especially in the mornings when it comes to food?". I ask John.
I can feel John being defensive. He gives a small sigh and says; "I know what you're going to say. I had a bad morning the other morning. I was frustrated.. and yes I took it out on Avery...however it was just a bad morning!". He answered.
"I want to help... I know you do so much for us - and I just wanted to suggest something that might make breakfast less frustrating for you..". I responded - unaware that he is hurt, upset, and feeling invalidated. I was in my bubble. I was so in my head and world that I thought what I was about to share was amazing!!
We went onto have a conversation, and even though he was so great with me and so generous in our conversation - I made no conscious effort to meet him in his world.
As we were walking around the supermarket, I realised I have not once said to John during the day; "Thank-you for everything you do!"...and our first conversation for the day, our first time to connect today, all that I was focused on was my agenda and a talk on "How he could improve."
That's nuts. That's horrible. And... that isn't loving.
As we were holding hands around the supermarket, I squeezed his hand and stopped him. "I'm sorry about the conversation earlier... You are amazing, and you do so much for our family - and I think I haven't told you how great you are and how much I appreciate all that you do. Bringing up that conversation the first chance that we are alone together today wasn't great of me!"
"Thanks. It really means a lot when you say that. I am doing the best I can.... and yes, that wasn't the best time!". He responded.
Brene Brown says; "We are hard-wired for connection."... and we are rarely taught that connection is a muscle. It is a practice. Learning how to connect and bringing empathy is something that requires daily practice. If we are unaware, our conversations can create a chasm or contribute to disconnection - either partner or ourselves wanting to withdraw and pull away.
We're half-way through The Motherhood Mindset Online course and are onto Module 3 - "A Shared Vision of Parenthood" which focuses on our relationship and parenting.
It's my favourite module - and even though I'm a teacher/ coach, I'm still learning. The above story demonstrates that I'm still learning, and I'm a student.
Our relationship as parents makes all the difference in how we experience parenthood; and whether we feel we are "thriving" in life.
You may have heard me mention it; I grew up with two parents who found it hard to love each other. Yes, they had feelings for each other on some level, AND they didn't know HOW TO LOVE each other.
Have you ever asked, do I know "how to love" my partner?
Parenting often gets the blame for why couples grow apart... or the relationship becomes "business as usual".
The biggest gift, you can give your children is showing them "what a healthy, loving, respectful relationship" looks like.
This means a healthy dose of being the embodiment for having compassion and kindness for one another, being respectful, knowing how to resolve conflict and differences, and being able to apologise and reconnect.
Parenting isn't the reason couples grow apart. The reason couples grow apart is that the relationship is no longer a focus or a priority. Connecting isn't a priority. Learning about one another isn't a priority. Growing together isn't a priority. Cultivating love isn't a priority.
Parenting is a joint partnership where we are learning about one another. On this journey together. Parenting is an opportunity to learn how to resolve our differences with love and come to an aligned vision, and parenting is a wonderful opportunity to show gratitude and growth.
We are both learning to be parents. In learning, mistakes are inevitable.
Being willing to let go of being right, being willing to be open to one another and explore ideas so we can do better, and being willing to work as a team and create partnership is the gift that parenting bestows on a relationship. The outcome - to expand our love.
Growing your love while being parents lives in the little moments. These little moments are the building blocks to a strong foundation of Love and partnership.
Right now, on a scale of 1 - 10; how inspired are you by your partnership as parents, and by your relationship?. I invite you also to ask your partner the same question.
Whatever the answer, it's a start. Knowing where you are and being objective is the key to growth.
From where you are, if it's not where you want your relationship to be - ask; "What is it that our relationship needs?"; "What is it that you need to feel loved?" OR; "Do you feel that we're supporting one another? - How can we better support one another?".
And, if you're doing super-great, and your relationship is thriving - AWESOME. Ask each-other; "What do you think it is that we do well for one another and our relationship?". Knowing what works for your relationship is as essential in knowing what doesn't work.
A generation of parents who know how to love each other and pass on this knowledge to their children can transform the world.
Your love has the potential to be a legacy.
Thank-you for reading! Thank-you for allowing me to share.. and I hope this message makes a difference in expanding your love.