8

ways to find your happy-ever-af­ter

Mother & Baby (UK) - - LIFE & KIDS -

Un­cover what mat­ters

You’re way too busy now to do the countless lit­tle things you used to do to make your part­ner feel spe­cial. So zero in on the things that make him feel loved. ‘Sit down and each write a list of “The 10 things that make me feel like you love me”,’ sug­gests Jill. ‘Peo­ple are of­ten sur­prised about what their part­ners put on the list!’

Say thanks

‘Ev­ery­body needs to hear that they are val­ued by the peo­ple they care about, but this is par­tic­u­larly the case for par­ents,’ Jill says. Stud­ies sug­gest that many of us stop say­ing and do­ing the lit­tle things that make each other happy af­ter hav­ing kids. ‘And in the first years of par­ent­hood, we of­ten doubt our abil­i­ties,’ adds Jill, ‘so it’s great to hear your part­ner telling you you’re do­ing a good job.’ Be spe­cific: ‘I love how gen­tle you are when you dress him’ is much more pow­er­ful than ‘You’re a great dad’.

Share the love

If you’re for­get­ting to snug­gle your part­ner as of­ten th­ese days, pop your baby into his arms and share that emo­tion. Bet­ter still, get Dad to wear baby in a sling and go for a walk – you won’t help but give the pair of them plenty of hugs!

Ditch dates for dis­cus­sions

The world and his wife will tell you to carve out time for date nights af­ter you have a baby. In­stead, once a week, turn off the TV, leave your phones in the kitchen and sit down for a proper chat. Set two rules: ‘The first rule is to talk about any­thing other than the chil­dren,’ says Jill. ‘Re­mem­ber­ing that both you and your part­ner have lives and in­ter­ests out­side of par­ent­hood will do your re­la­tion­ship a world of good. And the sec­ond rule is sim­ply to lis­ten – we all want to be heard by the peo­ple we love.’

Start say­ing ‘We’

In those tricky lit­tle life mo­ments, adopt­ing the word ‘we’ makes it clear you’re a team. So, if nei­ther of you can do the nurs­ery pick up on Tues­day, ask, ‘What are we go­ing to do about this?’ ‘The aim is not to avoid con­flict,’ says Jill, ‘but to man­age it well. Work­ing out prob­lems to­gether will make you much stronger as a cou­ple.’

Re­frame your words

‘When you’re up­set about some­thing and need to com­mu­ni­cate it, use sen­tences that be­gin with “I” rather than “you”,’ sug­gests Jill. So, rather than telling your part­ner, ‘You haven’t emp­tied the dish­washer’ try ‘I feel over­whelmed and the dish­washer needs emp­ty­ing.’ Try to ar­tic­u­late your needs with­out ap­por­tion­ing blame, and ev­ery­one will emerge from the con­ver­sa­tion feel­ing much hap­pier.

Make con­tact

Some­times you’re just too tired or busy to do any­thing other than zone out in front of a box set. But it’s so much cosier with an arm round your waist or a hand slipped into yours.

Watch a scary movie

A study found that peo­ple who watch scary movies are more likely to find each other sexy, be­cause our phys­i­o­log­i­cal re­sponses to fear – in­creased heart rate and blood pres­sure, di­lated pupils and flushed skin – are very sim­i­lar to those of arousal. So grab a bowl of pop­corn and snug­gle up…

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