Weekends are a bittersweet time for me. On one hand they are a welcome respite to the weekday schedule. I can tackle larger projects around the home, catch up on reading, and take time to assess scheduling and family management strategies that are in place during the week. On the other hand, because we are a two household family and my daughters go to their dads on the weekends, I feel an underlying sadness due to missing my girls. If I let it, the feeling can deplete my enthusiasm for all the things I like to accomplish during my two day hiatus from parenting.
But typically, my motivation to have a house with groceries stocked in the kitchen, clean sheets on the beds, and promised tasks completed by Sunday night pushes uncomfortable feelings aside. In my haste to create a welcoming environment for my daughters' Monday, I have overlooked an opportunity provided by the weekends without them—reconnecting with my significant other, M.
This weekend, like any weekend, I had numerous personal and familial related tasks to complete. M and I began painting the kitchen two weeks ago and I wanted to finish it. There were shelves for the girls’ room to be painted and hung, groceries, meal planning, scheduling of activities, laundry and vacuuming. In my obsessive quest for the home to seem “normal” and welcoming on Mondays, I wanted everything crossed off the to-do list.
It’s 6:00 p.m. on Sunday evening and the shelves are not hung and the groceries are not purchased. The house is not vacuumed and kitchen cabinet doors we removed for painting are still on the floor. But unlike my customary worry about how the girls will perceive their home upon Monday’s reentry, this evening I feel refreshed and calm. You see, instead of tending to the typical, M and I tended to our relationship.
My main goal in life is to be a great parent. This was not an ambition of mine when I was a child or even when I was a young adult. This became my mission upon the birth of my first daughter--good timing. And due to my guilt over my divorce, I have made it my sole purpose in life. But I have failed to acknowledge that my relationship with M has a significant impact on my success as a parent.
Newly remarried couples without children usually use their first months together to build on their relationship. Couples with children, on the other hand, are often more consumed with their own kids than with each other.
M and I are not married. Maybe this is why I allowed parenting to be more important than our relationship. And maybe I’m not married because I am afraid it will distract me from parenting. Maybe M and I fail to take the plunge because we are unsure if the girls will like the idea. But, the "maybes" do not matter. He’s here. It’s our house. We are a family.
You will no doubt focus a lot of energy on your children and their adjustment, but you also need to focus on building a strong marital bond. This will ultimately benefit everyone, including the children. If the children see love, respect, and open communication between you and your spouse, they will feel more secure and may even learn to model those qualities.
I do not recommend staying awake for more than a normal amount of time in order to reconnect. I truly am a bit stressed about the groceries that are not purchased. But for couples in blended families, whether your relationship status is married or living together, I strongly recommend you and your partner stay connected. How the girls see M and I in our relationship is much more impactful to their development than if the refrigerator is fully stocked. Peanut butter and jelly for dinner is always an option.