Netflix “very kindly” sent me an email bringing a new movie to my attention. They thought I would like this movie called, “Yes Day.” Cheers for that, Netflix!
The premise of the movie is this: mum and dad are always saying “no” to the kids. In the trailer for this movie you see the mum, played by the ever-delightful Jennifer Garner, smiling sweetly and saying to her kids, “Nope on a rope.” Try that one on your kids next time!
The kids complain that their parents are “fun killers.”
The mum remembers that they used to be tons of fun, think skydiving and roller coasters.
Thus the day of saying yes to everything the kids ask for is born.
Am I a fun killer? I used to have plenty of fun!
Although I have yet to watch the movie, it got me thinking.
I used to see myself as interesting, spontaneous, and fun. But somewhere in the haze of the toddler years, I realised I was just tired and cranky. Who could blame us, right?
Interestingly, my experience showed me that I was right on queue too! Parents end up spending most of their time together completing the daily instrumental tasks. Their main focus is to propel life forward to keep the newest member of the family alive and well.
Survival in the place of fun is a sacrifice that we’re willing to make as parents most of the time. We freely give up things that are personally important to us for something else that is valued more. We easily turn down a coffee date with a friend on a Saturday afternoon, because that time is “reserved” for family time.
But at what cost? How long do we sacrifice hobbies, interests, and adult-only social events before it becomes detrimental to our identity and the satisfaction of the relationship?
Our life as a couple first, our relationship with our kids second?
I’m a big believer and somewhat of a pusher of “Couple Time.” I even created a product to help couples bridge the gap between ‘wanting’ and ‘doing.’ (You can check out “Couple Time” cards on my website if you want to learn more about this.) I write articles for magazines about it and have discussed the premise in podcasts numerous times… It’s so important.
Couples need to prioritize their relationship with each other. A strong couple keeps the family intact and healthy. If a couple waits until their children have left home before committing to growing their relationship, they could end up discovering that they are living with a stranger.
Sometimes it feels like my message gets lost in tokenism. It feels like a no-brainer, “Yeah, sure, spend some quality time together.” But time after time couples come to my couch and lament how they “just need to spend more time together.” They would, but they’re so busy.
Can you afford NOT to prioritize your relationship?
Lori Lim, a fellow OZ therapist, encourages couples to remember that their children “joined their partnership” and not the other way around. You were a unit long before your children ever came on the scene. You committed to growing the relationship with your partner. Didn’t the desire to create a family come out of this love and devotion?
She also stresses that your children are building their first definition of what a committed relationship looks like by watching you. What do you want them to see? What do you want them to “catch” as they observe how you and your partner interact?
Bringing Sexy Fun Back: A message to the ladies
The esteemed couple and sex therapist Esther Perel says society asks women to leave their sexuality at the door when they become a wife/mother. Talk about a fun-buster!
For a woman to change the narrative, she needs to change the plot. To remember that she IS, in fact, that interesting, spontaneous and fun person. This does not take away from the fact that she is ALSO a lover of Bluey, a failing bedtime negotiator, and monster-vanquisher extraordinaire.
Esther believes that, “by channeling an internal focus, women are freed from their social roles, which often revolve around tending to the needs of others. In that freedom from care and attention to the well-being of others, they can find space to experience pleasure.” How does that look for you? How could you “change your plot”? What parts of who you were pre-motherhood need to be resurrected and let out to play?
More pleasurable sexual experiences are waiting on the other side of these questions.
So how do we up the fun factor?
Take some time to ask yourself, “Where is the line between my responsibility to my children, my responsibility to my spouse, and my responsibility to myself?”
Getting some clarity around these responsibilities will help tremendously in magnifying your fun factor.
Get back in touch with the fun you had prior to being parents. Which activities did you engage in that drew the contours of your couple?
Here are a few tips:
- Show appreciation whenever possible
- Always kiss goodbye
- Take turns scheduling date nights
- Do something new with each other once a month
- Surprises! Big or small.
- Book a holiday for the two of you
- Order in and have a game night
Would it be helpful to have someone to talk to about getting your fun back? Please reach out to me. I would love to talk to you about filling up your couple life with more fun.