The Primary Relationship is with the Couple and not the Children
Conflict is normal in a healthy relationship, and relationships have definitely been feeling the strain in lockdown as we’re in each other’s company 24/7 and the division of responsibility in the family around childcare, supervision of schoolwork and domestic duties becomes strained. Parents are used to putting the children first but our guest today believes that the primary relationship is between the adults. The couple relationhip can get lost if parents become a child-rearing unit.
This episode looks at how we can communicate our needs in an effective way,
Pam Custers is an experienced Psychotherapist and Coach with a history of working successfully with individuals, couples and families. Skilled in Relationship Counselling and coaching for those wishing to have a flourishing relationship in both their personal life. She runs a thriving business in Wimbledon, SW London called The Relationship Practice.
Listen to this episode with Pam if you want to learn:
- Why the relationship between parents is so important and needs greater focus, in fact needs to be privileged over all else. (Note: this does not mean neglecting the children!)
- How important it is for parents to present a united front to the children and how failure to do this can impact your parenting
- How the ‘hot spots’ of family life can become a battle ground between a couple when there is no united front
- How the burden of decision-making around family life can get taken on by one parent (often women) and breed resentment and the other parent can feel left out of an intense relationship between the other parent and the child
- How a good relationship is co-created
- How to be a team that together construct the home
- Why having a united front is so important in holding boundaries
- What to do to build a strong team, including
- having a ‘family’ meeting each week where the couple takes time to plan their week, compare the diaries and work out priorities. The idea is to construct the day/week to set up for success. This pre-empts the emotional resonance of the week. These practical ideas mean that each partner is really supporting the other and puts the couple on the same page.(see the module on Setting up for Success in our positive parenting courses)
- recognising that a united front needs to be continually worked on and compromise is essential
- How dealing well with conflict depends on connections in our lives (and at the moment we are relying solely on our partners for all those connections) and how it is important to create some moments of separation, to demarcate between work time and home time
- Why now is not a good time to have a big re-think about our relationships and it is a good time to show your partner some compassion, cutting them some slack
- How it can help to ask the question of your partner “how can I support you to support me?”
- About the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the worst of which is contempt, and how if this is present it might be time to get professional help because there will be needs underlying the negative lens through which partners are viewing each other that are not being met.
And as usual we finish with our SUMs. We are celebrating some Surprising Uplifting Moments, some good things coming out of this pandemic. Pam shares a story about her team pivoting to online therapy and everybody working hard together to make it work.
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