Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 4: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

Today's subject matter is marriage or if you are not married the relationship with your partner or significant other. My husband has high expectations of my personal reflection today LOL. H and I have been together 9 years and married for 4. Our relationship started when we were both 19 and I believe we have undergone may transformations as a couple and as individuals.

Parenting Passageway asks us to contemplate where our relationship will be in 20 years when our children are gone and we are left alone with our partners without the minute to minute distractions of the kids. What will this time look like? It is probably the stage of life and marriage that I am in but I have been contemplating this topic for some time now. My mother in law is hitting this stage in her life and talking with her has led me to reflect on my own marriage. What will I feel like when these little beings that are currently the center of my world fly off to fulfill their destinies. When I look at my husband in 20 years will I still know and love him as I do now? I hope so. Actually no, I hope that what I feel for him after the next 20 years is deeper and more substantial. I am looking into what I can do now to prepare for this time in our lives. I think part of this preparation will be a sitting down to make our 5, 10, 15, 20 year plans.

Before we were to be married my husbands grandma sent us for marriage preparation. At first I was hesitant and a little resistant. It was a Catholic marriage prep course and I am not Catholic. We opted for the weekend away called Engaged Encounters. It was actually a powerfully moving experience for me. H and I have a very open line of communication but this course required us to do self-reflection and gave us a lot of questions to ask each other that we had not thought of. The one piece of advice that I've carried with me through these 4 years was that love and lust and like are all emotions I will feel for my husband transiently. However I can CHOOSE to love him. Meaning that through loving actions I can make the choice to be loving. During tough times this piece of advice has served to help me bring those loving feelings back.

There is a term parenting as partners. Parenting Passageway has written a really awesome post on this topic. The title says it all. For those of us in a relationship we need to keep in the front of our minds that there are two of us on this parenting journey. Each of us has our different perspective and opinion. Hopefully these perspectives and opinions complement, complete and enhance each others. Often times I find myself annoyed that H is not doing what I want him to at that exact moment or he's not doing it the way I want. It sounds silly but I need to remind myself that he is not telepathic and he is not a woman. A prime example of this would be shortly after the birth of our daughter D (our second child) H was putting her down for a nap. D is demanding and likes things done a certain way. For the first few weeks of her life I felt that I was the only one who could do it properly. So I was hovering and telling him how to do it. He turned around and said "You NEED to let me do this by MYSELF!" After that I let him figure it out. This seemed to give him the space he needed to bond with our daughter.

There are very distinct differences between H and I. H has two very different roles on a daily basis. He has the decisive decision making businessman role and then he has the loving attached father role. I am immersed in the daily life with the kids right now on maternity leave. I do not have two roles at the moment. Sometimes I expect that he should just be able to flip a switch when he comes home and be in his attached father role. It is important for me to remember that when I am working, often I need time to decompress from the day and put my Mama hat on. I think I should check in and find out what H needs to make this daily transition easier.

I truly believe that we all need to feel respected and loved in our homes. I also know that our children absorb these feelings and model our behaviours in this regard. I find that when life is getting chaotic and I feel stressed I can get short with H and he with me. If I notice this I make a conscious effort to change my tone and my words to something softer and more respectful. Nagging and sniping in front of the children only teaches them that this is an appropriate way to interact with the ones we love. This is not the message I want to convey to them. I also feel that any differences of opinions should be discussed in private between H and I. In front of others is neither the time nor the place. It only serves to embarass and will not facilitate open communication. I need an alliance with my husband in order to have the rhythm and peace in my home that I desire.

The ways I meet the needs of my partner and keep our relationship solid:
1. Open, honest communication on a daily basis
2. Physical intimacy
3. Early bedtime for the children (between 7 and 8pm)
4. A regular 'check in' with my partner (how's he doing and feeling?)
5. Self-care (I cannot meet someone else's needs if I do not first meet my own)

My goals for today:
1. Model a respectful loving relationship to my children
2. Reconnect with my husband and invest in our marriage

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