I often say that relationships are like gardens. They don’t just look after themselves; they require some careful tending and nurturing if you don’t want them to end up overgrown, ugly and unloved.
My favourite reading over the Christmas break was this wonderful article, 1500 People Give All The Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need by the talented writer Mark Manson. As a newly wed, he asked his readers for their relationship dos and don’ts and then distilled their answers into the most concise yet comprehensive relationship advice I’ve ever read.
In fact, if everyone were to read this and do their best to put it into practice, we Couples Therapists would be sat at home twiddling our thumbs all year waiting for the phone to ring. It’s that good.
Each expert in this article by Lucinda Everett in the Sunday Telegraph magazine Stella (8 Feb 2015) comes from a slightly different angle, but I thought it contained some helpful, realistic advice:
No, we’re not talking chastity belts for footballers and golfers (although, now that I think of it …) I mean, if you are parents, even of young children, you need get into the habit of shutting your bedroom door regularly, and for extra peace of mind, you may want to lock it too. Not just when you’re planning to make love (you don’t need to telegraph your intentions!), but at other times too.
Of course, a locked door is going to mean you’re both more likely to be able to relax and enjoy lovemaking, without fear of intrusion. (Not that it’s the end of the world if one of the kids catches you “in the act”, they won’t be marred for life – just handle it with calm, age-appropriate reasurance). But knowing you might be walked in on at any moment is not usually conducive to being able to really get into sex and let go; knowing the door is locked can make all the difference. (Incidentally, if you’re worried about being overheard, why not make it a common occurrence to play music in the bedroom?)
So many parents nowadays seem to feel they should be available to their children 24/7. I disagree. Of course you need to be responsible and make sure your children are safe, but parents need and have a right to privacy and time out too. I believe retreating together behind a locked door gives an important statement (to the kids AND to each other) that you as a couple value and protect the bond between you. It also models good boundaries, which are healthy for everyone living together in a family.
So don’t feel guilty about prioritising private couple time. What could be more important for children than that their parents nurture and invest in their own relationship?