ways to find your happy-ever-after
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!’
‘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.
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…