Category Archives: Marriage

Playdates for Adults. Conversations for a happier and more fulfilling relationship.

Are you feeling a bit disconnected from your partner and yearn for more closeness?  Making and keeping a date with your partner – often – helps couples to connect. Please remember that you married each other and not the kids.  Take some quality time away from the family.  The suggestions below are topics you can consider for your dates.  Do not get into a conflictual situation.  If that happens, shut it down.

Need suggestions? – here are some:

The first conversation is about trust and commitment.   Find a quiet and private place to have an honest conversation.

  • Where to go: Try an elevated location with a great view.  Relax and be open to the conversation
  • Talk about commitment – what it means to each of you? Is it just sexual fidelity or is it more about loving unconditionally and cherishing them – even if they have insecurities and quirks? Where do you both draw the line?  How is social media affecting us?
  • Ask your partner: Can you describe a time when you didn’t feel you trusted me, and what could I have done to fix the situation?  What do you need to me to trust me more?
  • How do you feel about social media and being connected to a lot of people?

The second conversation is about agreeing how we disagree.  Relation conflict is normal and natural but how are you managing it?  Some conflicts will never be resolved, and some we have to learn to live with/  What lies beneath the conflict?  Discussing this will give you some insight into your partners beliefs and personality>

  • Where to go? Again a place where it is quiet and peaceful and you can listen and discuss.  Hold hands while you talk to each other.
  • Discuss the top three things you argue about. Don’t dwell on the issues themselves. Rather talk about how you can manage conflict when these issues arise.
  • Ask your partner: How was conflict handled when you were growing up? What can I do when you are angry?  How do you like to make up after a disagreement?

The third conversation is on the controversial subject of finances. Research has shown that financial arguments are one of the top three issues couples fight about. Balancing doing the things you love and creating security for the future is difficult and it is necessary to discuss the meaning of money.

  • Where to go: This date should cost little or almost nothing.
  • Talk about what money means to each of you? Focus on all you have as opposed to what you don’t have. Don’t dwell on past mistakes made.
  • Ask your partner: How do you feel about work now? What will change in the future? How can I help you feel secure when you are worried about money?  How can we plan to create security for the future?

The fourth conversation is about Family.   We all have them, and we often have different ideas on how they should behave.  Don’t let resentment build and try not to criticize your partner’s family and parenting style.

  • Find a place that reminds you of a happy time during childhood. If you have this date at home, try to recreate your or your partners favorite dish – or both.
  • Discuss the family member who you consider is closest to you. Tell your partner what you love about them. Discuss any boundaries that need to be put in place.
  • Talk about your children’s best characteristics? What do they get from you and your partner?  What would you like to model?
  • Ask your partner: What can we do to deepen the relationships with our family and close friends? What do you love about being a parent with me?

Carol Nader. 2019

Are you too busy for your marriage?

William Doherty believes that in today’s  – “cell-phone obsessed, distracted, individualistic, consumer driven, media saturated and work orientated world”, people experience less spark, less intimacy and less focus on the couple relationship. Add to that the modern “child centered” parenting approach and it is evident why some marriages drift into decline over time.  Parents become focussed on parent-child rituals, and transfer their devotion onto their children.  One day they wake up and wonder where their connection went.

  • Are you too busy for your marriage? Between work, raising kids, managing daily life, do you put in the work required to keep your connection alive?
  • Have you started taking one another for granted? Special times alone take a back seat, we become habituated to each other and forget that it started with just the two of you, especially when the kids come along.
  • Spouses often have different work orientations towards marriage. Although I am generalizing, men seem to think that once the chase is over, they can relax and put working on the relationship on the back burner. Women are confused and wonder where the romance has gone. Wives usually put making the marriage work high on their agenda, until they settle for their husband’s standards and stop trying. This is when marital drift happens.
  • Is your “relaxing with each other” time in front of the television, instead of focussing on one on one sharing?
  • Are you bringing work home with you? Very often people feel that they need to work in the evenings to cope with their workload. They spend a brief time together, often devoting that time to the kids, and then immediately sit behind their laptops, while their partner goes off of bed.
  • Are cell-phones and social media drawing your attention away from your partner? Do you find chatting on social media more interesting than sharing with the person next to you?

We all want to be loved, admired and cared for. If you are committed to your relationship for the long haul, resist all the above things that are pulling you apart, and work on restoring your couple connection.

Keeping a close connection in your relationship

Do you feel that you and your spouse/ partner have drifted apart? This is one of the reasons that relationships flounder in today’s fast moving world.  Are you drifting in different directions? If so, what can you do to restore your former intimacy?

Your relationship is as important as any other facet of your life, so make time for it, and give it sustained effort – every day.  Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Are you absolutely absorbed by social media, phones and TV? Take time out from social media, and do the old fashioned thing – sit together and communicate. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Ban phone and IPad use in the bedroom. It’s the time to be fully present for each other.
  • Are you spending quality time together – just the two of you? Dedicate some time and do activities that you enjoy together. Make some time for regular dates.
  • Are you spending all your time on your children? Give your children adequate time, but remember that to keep the relationship strong, you need to focus on each other. The kids will be fine – but they need the stability of a family that stays together.
  • Do you take your partner for granted? Your family, kids and work are all important.   Do you attach the same importance to being fully present for your husband or wife? To feel appreciated your partner needs to feel prioritized and appreciated.
  • Do your parents, family and friends support your relationship? Negative outside influences can derail your relationship. Get rid of them.
  • Do you display affection to each other? Human touch is so important. Hugs, kisses and holding hands are a very important form of connection. Regular sex needs to happen to maintain intimacy.
  • Are you too focused on material things? The best things in life are free, but you can lose them by putting all your focus on “having things”.
  • Is your attention on what you can put into the marriage? We form relationships to satisfy our partner’s needs. Whose needs are you focussing on?
  • Are you showing your true self to your partner? Share goals, hopes, dreams, desires and fears to build that intimate space.
  • Are you concentrating on what makes your partner happy?   Connect during the day – either by phone or text, just to let them know that they are in your thoughts. Be kind and respectful.
  • Are you so consumed by work that you have to engage with work matters during your free time? Time to question work life and your priorities.

If you are looking for more inspiration, “Take back your Marriage” by William Doherty is a good read.

You will marry the wrong person

This headline caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks. Don’t we go to great length to marry the right person?  We date for a while, get to know them, get to know their families, colleagues, friends, etc.  We try to ensure that we share their interests – and even after that – we have zero chance of marrying the right person?

Why? Because unless we married a clone of ourselves, there is no person on this earth that will understand all our needs, wants, desires, etc.  We marry, then throw two family systems into the mix, add a couple of kids, and expect that we will grow at the same rate.  Events can and will alter our lives completely.   There will be times when we need comforting and our partner is not really conscious of this need.  The idea that all needs will be fulfilled in a marriage is totally unrealistic – as we are married to a person who has diverse wants and needs of their own.

Before marriage we rarely delve into the complexities of living closely with a partner. We are hopeful, optimistic, romantic and so is our partner.  However, marriage moves us onto a different plane – admin and financial planning, running a suburban home,  giving up our independence, learning how to bring up kids, navigating life events, work frustrations, etc.   The only ingredient that we have in common when we embark on life as a couple is our partner.

Do we fully understand ourselves, anyway? So how can we fully understand another?

If the above is true, it follows that we will probably choose a so-called “wrong” person. However, this can be good news.  Alain de Botton states  that all we need to do is “let go of the romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based for the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.”  Once we let go of that notion, we stop expecting all our needs to be met, and become used to the idea that sometimes they won’t be.

We need to choose our partner carefully and then hope that we will marry a “more right than totally wrong” person, who is good at negotiating differences in taste, and tries to be “more right” for you. We must avoid rushing into unions because we are lonely or feel that “time is passing us by.” We need to be aware that the nice feeling of romanticism will not last, but can be replaced by understanding, open communication, and a willingness to try and satisfy our partner’s needs.

The good news is that you can make it work. Get rid of the notion that your union is not “normal” and learn to accommodate the “wrongness”, and strive for a more forgiving, respectful and kind perspective.

Taken from an article by Alain de Botton in the New York Times. May 28th 2016.  Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) is the author of the novel “The Course of Love.”