Relationships are work (in a good way)

Marriage, a journey in progress

Whoever said marriage is easy has not been married. It’s hard work. Just like you work to excel in your career, parenting, sport, or other pursuit. Marriages are not Netflix Originals where someone realizes the error of their ways, and decides to whisk you away in romcom fashion for a happily ever after.

It’s also not a dating app scenario where you get to swipe right if something doesn’t work in your favor. Don’t like the way he picks food from his teeth. Too bad. You’re committed. Unfortunately, we live in a challenging time in which a “disposable” mindset is so pervasive. Fragmented families, experience with unhealthy family and romantic relationships, and an instant gratification culture where you’re just an app, tap, and swipe away — can make commitment that much harder. Everyone comes from a different place, and everyone comes with their unique set of baggage.

So, let’s talk sustainability.

Great relationships take work because it’s worth the investment.

We are products of our childhood, upbringing, and cultural norms. Statistically speaking, children of divorced parents are more likely to jump ship. And, if your parents married others after divorcing, you’re 91% more likely to get divorced. (Source: Nicholas Wolfinger, Cambridge University Press 2005). 

But statistics are just numbers at the end of the day. Like Ben Stiller’s risk manager character in Along Came Polly, it’s best to throw the risk assessment out the window and commit to doing the work. And be your own best judge.

After reading key publications and articles on the subject (the work required is consistent), I’ve distilled the summary down to five points.

1) Be a good listener and ask questions

As a busy mom I am engrossed in work, caring for the kids, running errands, and juggling multiple projects. Being a good listener is one of the most important aspects of being a great partner. You can visibly see your partner’s reactions and emotions. We each have our own idiosyncrasies, and it’s important to be present for those we love.

2) Have high standards for each other

Having high standards for each other is crucial. There was a reason you got together in the first place and exchanged ‘I do’s.’ If something bothers you, address it immediately. Don’t tolerate negative or hurtful behavior on either side. Talk it out, and work on nipping the problem in the bud.

3) Learn to argue constructively

Sometimes you agree to disagree. It’s inevitable. I can have strong opinions as does the hubs. Arguing constructively means respecting the others’ opinion and exiting the argument gracefully. That may involve humor, a time-out from conversation, and sometimes just an acknowledgement that both views hold merit. Agree to disagree.

4) Show you care

I grew up in a household where “acts” (i.e. making a favorite meal, planning a special trip) spoke volumes when it came to love and commitment. For others, those acts aren’t enough. Some require more tactile or verbal demonstrations of care and love. Talk about and understand what your partner needs from you (and vice versa).

5) Plan regular date nights

Life gets in the way, and you find yourself frequently exhausted and drained. Having kids are an absolute delight, but it’s hard to schedule regular date nights. This is an area that can provide a great opportunity to re-connect, and just have fun.

Enjoy the journey (there will be bumps)

For my part, I am a work-in-progress and on this journey with my partner.

Yes, marriage is a lot of work. It has its ups and downs, and that’s par for the course. The down times can be incredibly tough, but it’s an opportunity for an honest relationship assessment, and a time to reboot with kindness and forgiveness.  I read a refreshing post (encourage you to read) by Winifred Reilly, a Marriage and Family Therapist, which gave her perspective on 36 years of marriage.

My parents have an amazing relationship and 40+ year marriage, which came from a shared journey with shared goals, and a belief in a happily ever after.

 

Family Time Management Tips [From a Chief Mom]

Doing Things Together

One of the most challenging, rewarding responsibilities I’ve had is working in the tech space. I’m drawn to innovation and disruptive technologies that really connect people — from mobile games and smartphones to pet technology that can literally give pets a voice (AI/ML). I have a lifelong love of learning and tinkering.

Most importantly, I love being a mom (aka Chief Mom Officer), and it’s a tough gig! For this week’s fiver, here are tips to make the most of family time.

1) Calendar to plan everything

The all-important calendar is necessary to plan every appointment, party, meeting, lesson, and to-do’s. I can always check it on my phone, get reminder alerts, and it gives me the semblance of being organized.

2) Order essentials in bulk

Why buy TP or paper towels as one-offs? Ordering in bulk on a recurring schedule is a great way to save time and to ensure you never run out of the important things. What did I ever do before Amazon?

3) Pack lunches the night before

Packing lunches the night before
I’ve embraced the bento box lunch

I’m not that good at origami, but I’ve gotten creative with preparing bento box style lunches. This is effective with picky eaters, and a great way of showing you care (notice the hearts?). I prep lunches the night before, so I don’t feel rushed in the mornings.

4) Spend quality time; ask thoughtful questions

Compromises are made every day. One area I don’t negotiate is spending quality time with the kids daily. I’ll think of ways to engage them with questions (peppered with hugs).

Being present
Spend quality time; ask questions

Questions like: What was the most interesting thing you learned today? Did you like the lunch I packed for you? What made you smile? Who did you play with today? Did anything bother or upset you? (why?)

5) Organize weekly baking / other creative projects

I’m no Martha Stewart, and neither is the hubs. But together, we make a great team when it comes to cooking up projects with kid-friendly themes. Weekends are the best to do things together, and Sundays are designated Sunday Fundays.

Baking projects together
Space rock cookies were the theme

Well, that’s it for this week’s fiver.

How do you manage time with loved ones? Suggestions always welcome.