Love, raising a family — these are things that can be such wonderful, fulfilling experiences but typically take a great deal of work. Some days, I find myself elated by the prospect and smothering my partner with love. Other days, we're stuck in a battle of who is going to talk to the other first. Our greatest challenge, and one I'm sure other couples can relate to, is communication. So much gets lost in the emotions of my voice, my body language, and the things I decide not to share. What I meant to say sometimes comes out wrong, or I get defensive when my partner approaches me about a mistake. I'm also fiercely independent and don't always take direction or criticism well. And patience . . . I try my best, but some days are tough after many hours with a sweet but wild 3-year-old. It takes work. But the one thing I do that helps me to not lose all of my patience with my partner is that I try to look at him with new eyes.
I know that might not make sense, but hear me out. Most of us spend a great deal of time with our partner. I believe the intense butterflies, the mushy love, and the passion can fade away if we don't check in with ourselves and our partner often. It happens to me all the time. I get short with him, I take things personally, and I forget to look at him with love, as I did when we first started dating. It is almost as if I need to reset my brain, remember a great memory, and then look at him and think, "Oh, it's been you all along. I almost forgot." Amid the disagreements, the plans, the diapers, the cooking, and the budgets, I need to see my partner, and see the love and the passion for our relationship.
I remember the other day, we hadn't spent much time together and after I dropped our daughter at preschool, we decided to go to the store together. Wild, I know. It may seem like a regular old routine, but it was time together, which is often in short supply. We had just recently been in a bit of a funk from a disagreement over parenting style and going to the store, being a couple, and a little hand holding broke the ice — and we were melting for each other again. It is in moments like that, simple ones, alone ones, where I look at him with new eyes and a renewed sense of patience.
And I ask the same of him as well. If he seems to be losing his patience with me for one reason or another (maybe I'm not taking his advice on a discipline style for our daughter or maybe I've been less than passionate or not showing him love) — whatever the scenario — when I notice that he seems distant, I remind him that I am still here. I ask him to remember a really great time we had together, or remember when we first met. I remind him that although I may have upset him, I am here. The woman he loves is not lost, he just needs to see me again.
So when I'm feeling less than in love, I ask myself, "When was the last time you looked at your partner again?" Then, I take the time to do just that. I watch him as he's cooking over the stove. Notice the small effort as he makes me a cup of tea and slowly brings it over to me, removing the tea bag and placing it on a tiny plate next to my cup. When he gets back from the gym or a long day of work, I try to watch him with new eyes as he hops into the shower. And maybe, if I can, I hop in with him.