Bond through life passages — 29 October 2003
Keep your love alive while raising your children

Keep your love alive while raising your children

Some partners come to couples_ therapy with the primary concern about
their weakened love connection. “We don’t have what we used to have with
each other” “we hardly ever make love”, “she is not interested in
spending time with me”, “he is seldom physically affectionate with me”,
they say.

When questioned as to the timing of the change, many couples date it to
the arrival of the children. “Before the birth of our first child we had

a great relationship, we had fun and were really in love. Since then we
have been so busy, overworked and exhausted that all our energy is spent
and nothing is left for us.”

These couples have allowed their lives to rob them of the preciousness
of their connection with each other. It is their failure to set
priorities that tripped them.

There are many other couples who are two career mates, parents and even
active in the community who do succeed in keeping their flame alive.
They cherish their connection and guard against losing it. They also
know that through their loving and tight bond, they assist each other in
coping with life and being more effective parents. The love bond
empowers them to succeed in whatever they do.

When the couple’s relationship is put on hold for twenty years or so,
the resulting estrangement may be difficult to overcome. Those pairs who
neglected their connection, may find themselves having to make hard
choices once the children are gone. Some of them settle for being
housemates and business partners. Some divorce because they still desire
intimate love and romance. Some end up in a less than amicable
relationship where both are miserable, yearning for love but unable to
attain it.

All these options are less than desirable. There is no reason why
couples who love each other should not be able to savor this love
throughout their years together.

Taking time to talk to each other daily, touch, hug, cuddle, create
parting and reuniting loving messages, praise each other, and share
laughter-take very little time. It does require, however, couple-mindedness.

Your relationship has to be your highest priority in life, not the job,
the bills, your hobbies, or even the children. A couple who gave up
being together on a conference trip because they had to drive the kids
to their games on the weekend, made a bad choice. It is certainly very
important to be good parents, to facilitate the children’s social and
athletic endeavors, but those are not incompatible with safeguarding the
couples_ intimacy.

Parents who abandon their love “for the children”, are doing a great
disservice to their youngsters. They may even leave their children with
the impression that adulthood is a very burdensome and unattractive part
of life.

Children are our products, our responsibility and our treasures. We
chose to bring them to the world for greater joy. We did not intend to
have them terminate our state of “couplehood”.

Parenthood is a phase of expanding the family, not the demise of the
primary bond. When a nucleus of a cell in the body dies, so does the
cell. When mates neglect their union, the whole family fails to thrive.
An overworked and overwhelmed parent is not a fun parent.

Children are visitors at our homes for about eighteen years; they are
loved, fed, nurtured and guided to autonomy. When they are launched, we
hope to be left, as we were prior to their arrival, a loving couple on
our life’s journey together.

To achieve this you need to:

® Make your partner your first priority in consideration, attention,
time and kindness. Your capacity to be an excellent parent will only be
® Avoid having life’s demands hinder your intimacy with your mate.
® Raise your children well and gift them with a great role model for a
loving, committed and healthy relationship.
® Loving behaviors, tender actions and kind words toward your mate need
not be time consuming or exhausting. In fact, they are the empowering
building blocks of a solid family.
® Love your mate and your children. They are not mutually exclusive.
® Make time for love and it will stay with you for a lifetime.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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