1. Don’t change your personality
Men often complain to me that their partner is not the same person they fell in love with. They say “I want that person back.”
Women can often ‘lose’ themselves in their roles as mothers and wives, setting aside their own needs and wants for the sake of others. They often tell me, “I don’t know who I am, I don’t even know what makes me happy anymore”.
While nurturing and caring for your family is important, it is also important not to lose sight of who you are and what drives you. Your dreams and passions are important too – they are part of what makes you unique.
If you’re struggling to find yourself, or to find time for yourself, chat to your partner about how he can help you feel more fulfilled. Sometimes it is necessary to book a few appointments with a professional life coach or therapist to help you balance out your roles and find space for personal growth in your relationship.
2. Don’t stop your hobbies
Part of personal growth and maintaining your own identity within a relationship is making sure you have your own hobbies. Whether it’s scrap-booking, or book club, or running, we all need SOMETHING that gives us a ‘break’ from everyday life and responsibilities.
Your man needs this too.
Don’t stop him from going to a weekly squash meeting, or the occasional fishing trip with the guys. Men also need some time away from their responsibilities to just relax and express themselves. You could even go and support him at a squash game or two.
However, sometimes these hobbies can lead to conflict in the relationship if there is an imbalance in the amount of time that they take up. If your partner’s hobby means that he’s away from home and the family every weekend and multiple nights in the week, leaving you to take care of the kids and household, then you need to have a serious discussion about it.
Balance and support are two of the most important things in a healthy relationship.
3. Don’t let your role as mother completely take over your role as wife
A lot of the time men will tell me “I don’t resent having children, but I don’t have my wife’s attention anymore”.
They are very happy to be fathers, and to share the parenting role with their partner, but they are often sidelined as husbands. Women focus all their energy and attention on the children while the men are left wondering what happened.
While I understand that women are natural nurturers and children require huge amounts of commitment and energy, it is important to make time for your relationship as husband and wife. This relationship was there first, and it deserves to be nurtured just as much as your children do. Being happy parents means that you are setting a great example for your children, and showing them what a healthy, balanced relationship looks like.
Don’t make your partner feel like he has to fight for your attention all the time. At the end of the day when you’re exhausted and emotionally drained, don’t isolate yourself. Make sure that you schedule some ‘alone’ time at least once a week. Whether it’s a date night, or just waking up an hour earlier so that you can have coffee and chat before the day gets going.
Send your man a quick WhatsApp during the day just to let him know you’re thinking of him. The small things are what make a huge difference.
4. Don’t lose sight of your own goals
It is important for a man to know that his partner has her own goals or dreams that she wants to achieve. When you’re dating, this is something that forms a fundamental part of the foundation of the relationship. You talk about what you want to achieve in life, what you would do if you ‘won a million bucks’, and where you want to be in 20 years’ time.
Sometimes we lose sight of these goals – through various things like stress, the responsibilities of kids and careers, and we stop dreaming. We spend too much time trying to help others achieve their goals that we end up not having any of our own.
Men can feel smothered by this. They often describe their partner as ‘too needy’ because she adopts his goals as her own. This can be frightening as they feel like they are her life, and they don’t want to fail. If he’s happy, she’s happy. If he’s unhappy, she’s unhappy. This is not a balanced relationship.
Don’t let him become your oxygen. Don’t ‘die’ if he’s not there 24/7. In order to be happy, you need to be able to function on your own, and to pursue your own goals. This does not mean that you shouldn’t support each other as much as you can. It just means that you should also maintain an element of personal growth within the relationship, and strive to achieve personal goals as well as relationship goals.
5. Don’t gossip about your relationship and sex life
When I’m counselling couples and an issue pops up, one of the first questions men ask is “Who else did you tell?” Women often share very personal and intimate details about their relationship with friends. This makes their partner feel insecure and belittled…
For example, if your man experiences an episode of erectile dysfunction, don’t go and tell all your friends at book club. Keep it between you and him, and if you need help, seek information from a professional like your GP or a clinical sexologist where you know that the information will be kept confidential.
This goes both ways. What happens in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom. Men should respect their partner and not talk about their private sex lives with their friends.
6. Don’t ask his opinion if you don’t really want it
I am guilty here… I will often ask my husband what he thinks of a new outfit, or a new haircut and then get upset when he doesn’t say exactly what I want him to say. I see his answer as criticism instead of honesty.
He usually responds, “You asked me to be honest and I gave you my opinion.”
It is important for your partner not to be afraid to express himself in front of you. He needs to know his opinions are appreciated and valid, and that he’s not going to be shouted at just for saying something that differs from what you expected.
This can end up in him bottling away his opinions and just turning ‘off’ emotionally, which is not healthy for the relationship.
Accept that you may have different ideas and opinions about things, and if they aren’t part of your fundamental belief and value system, then they probably aren’t worth fighting over.