So many people come to me overwhelmed with the stress of life, competing responsibilities, losing intimacy and erotic connection due to the complexity of life. Parenting children, work, managing finances, extended family, having a meaningful social life, getting to the gym, and so on and so on and… These are things that couples commonly credit with the death of connection. So if these are the things that “have” to happen, how do we take care of ourselves and hold boundaries around intimate connection?
It is the balancing of all the responsibilities we feel that often has us paying attention to the most urgent and immediate need in front of us. If we were to draw a picture of this chaotic life, it would look like:
All the responsibilities are coming at us. We are trying to respond to work, the PTA, the extended family, the bills, the phone that will not stop beeping, walking the dog, cleaning the toilet. It is not lost that we also must raise the kids, feed them dinner, get through homework. Then the pressures of being a good partner, showing up as a good listener with an empathetic ear and a hot sex partner. When we are the most used up, we then are left to take care of ourselves. With what? What is left?
In reality, this triangle is upside down. The triangle balancing on its point is fragile and unstable. We must create a more meaningful base. Something that will stand the test of time. So, what we need to do is turn the triangle upside down and reverse the flow. It would look like:
We would practice good self-care. We would be able to attend to what makes us the most capable. We would go to the doctor, the dentist, the gym, get good sleep, and eat a healthy meal. While sometimes those activities seem like the easiest to cut out. But in reality, those are the activities that keep us strong and vibrant. We keep ourselves in better shape, we can then show up for our relationships as a more whole person. (In case the point was not made strong enough…it is our responsibility to make ourselves whole…not our partner’s!) When we show up stronger in our relationship, we then are better role models and providers for our children (and are modeling what healthy adulthood looks like!). Then we can deal with everything else. If our foundation is not solid, money, social lives, jobs do not fill in the gaps.
To have a balanced and grounded life, we must take care of ourselves first to be whole. Then we can build a strong connection that is rooted in sacred space (the space where only the relationship gets to live, free from outside pressure). Then you will have a solid model for parenting children if you have them and/or addressing the pressures of the outside world.
To learn more about what a relationship centered life looks like, contact Dr. Elliott Kronenfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org.