3 simple steps to feel more connected in your relationship after having children.
TIP : 3 simple steps to feel more connected in your relationship after having children.
by Fanshen Thompson, LCSW
Feelings of disconnection between partners after having children is not uncommon. There are many reasons for this, but to name a few I have heard from clients I have worked with: “We just have different ideas of what types of parents we should be. “ I bring certain values from my upbringing that are not in line with theirs”. “I get easily overwhelmed and they can handle more chaos in our daily life”. “I feel the weight of more responsibility falling on my shoulders”.
This disconnection can be a particularly disempowering feeling and one that we often tend to blame on the other person and wish they would do something about. If you are having that experience, do not fret, you are not alone! Many, or most of us do this! But there is another way to feel more empowered and today I will help guide you through a process that I have found to be helpful both for myself and numerous clients I have worked with to help you get unstuck in your relationship.
Hi I am Fanshen Thompson. I am a licensed clinical social worker and I support people who are feeling lonely and disconnected in their relationships, to feel more empowered and more deeply connected to themselves and others.In my work with disconnection and loneliness, I use a three step process grounded in mindfulness and body based (somatic) practices that allows you to identify, feel, then let go of complicated emotions so that you can embody a deeper connection with yourself and others. These 3 steps can be summarized as Let Be, Let Go and Let In.
- STEP 1 : Let BeWe tend to live life in the past, holding onto beliefs about ourselves and fixating on regrets or longing for redos. This takes us away from the present moment, both the pleasures and the pain that exist right now. The first step in addressing disconnection from your partner is to acknowledge the feelings exist, and to to feel what it feels like and to allow yourself to be with it, however you are able to. We spend so much time in our lives trying to avoid painful feelings that for some, this part can be quite difficult. “Letting be” is different than one might describe “wallowing” in pain. It is more like noticing and, as I call it, welcoming, or allowing. Do your best to take it beyond your thoughts and allow yourself to feel what it feels like in your body, to see what emotions it brings up and to notice and be with those as they arise. If this feels hard, try placing your hand on your heart to comfort yourself and say “this will pass”, which it will, as all intense feelings do, eventually. You might notice, just in that welcoming, the intensity starts to shift and lessen, even if just a little. That is the power of Letting Be. Along with the principle of letting be, is the idea that we are not our thoughts, feelings, or limiting beliefs. So when a painful thought, feeling or limiting belief arises, we can allow ourselves to be with it and notice it passing, but recognize that is is not us.
- STEP 2 : Let Go
If you would like to go a bit deeper and build upon Letting Be, it can be helpful to identify what thoughts, feelings, beliefs or memories might be contributing to this feeling of disconnection in the relationship. Often we notice there are patterns of thoughts, feelings and limiting beliefs that continue to arise, sort of like themes in our lives. Some of the common ones I have heard from people I work with are: “I have to work harder, otherwise I do not have value”, or “I must pretend to be someone else in relationships, because who will like me if I act like myself”, or “I am too much for people”, or “I am too loud”,or “I am too quiet”. These beliefs are usually attached to feelings, so if we are able to identify a belief that keeps spinning for us, we can usually identify a feeling attached to it and by noticing, welcoming and allowing that feeling, related to out belief, to be present we can then decide to Let Go of the feelings associated with that belief, just in that very moment, or each moment it arises. While at first it may seem silly to let go of something just for a moment, the repetition of that process can provide great relief. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself!
- STEP 3 : Let inOnce we have acknowledged what is and allowed it be as it is, and we have started to let go of that which no longer serves us and we can start to Let In what is useful and healing. This is where self compassion and gratitude can be very helpful. There are various ways to “Let in” what is good, one is through the method I describe in a blog post that is to allow yourself to sit with good feelings in a very intentional way. Neuroscience has demonstrated that allowing good feelings to resonate in our bodies can actually change our brain to think and feel more positively over time. Another way to “Let in” is to bring in self compassion. A simple way to do that is to ask yourself what you might say to a friend who is suffering the way you are in a particular moment, or period and specifically say those things you would say to a friend to yourself, right now. Another way is to identify the things that you feel grateful for, even when they are small, and allow yourself to FEEL that gratitude, not just think it. Many find that writing down things they are grateful for is helpful, however, I would encourage taking it further to allow the wash of gratitude to take over your body, not just your mind. Allow it to physically warm you, comfort you in any way that feels real for you.
Feeling more connected in our relationships starts with feeling more connected to ourselves. It may not end there, but it can set the foundation for building a much more authentic connection with those we care about the most. If you are interested in learning more about therapy with me, either individual or couples, do not hesitate to reach out to me via email or phone and we can set up a free consultation to see how I can support you to feel more connected with people in your life today.
Fanshen Thompson is a Bay Area Psychotherapist who is passionate about healing the world, one person at a time! She provides individual, couples, and group psychotherapy online to California residents and supports them to connect more deeply with themselves and others. Learn more here: https://fanshenthompson.com/