Finding the right balance: you, your couple and your family

Finding the right balance: you, your couple and your family
Before you were parents, you were a couple. And before you were a couple, you were individuals. Ideally, you should never lose sight of any one of these entities.

Before you were parents, you were a couple. And before you were a couple, you were individuals. Ideally, you should never lose sight of any one of these entities.

“When you go from 1 to 2, a balance is created between the time you spend alone and the time you spend as 2. When children are added to the mix, a new balance needs to be found as a family, without forgetting the couple. If you lose sight of the couple, when the children leave the nest, all that will remain are 2 individuals without much in common,” explains Mireille Dion, speaker and sex therapist.

The goal is finding the right balance between time for you, time for your couple and time for your family. “In each case, it’s better to take a few moments each day instead of waiting for the perfect moment, which is harder to come by and usually filled with unrealistic expectations. This is a more beneficial and satisfying strategy,” advises Dion.

When you’re aware of how your family dynamic is evolving and you each know what aspect of your couple is important for you, it’s easier to find a balance.

She notes that in practice, fathers fare better with maintaining their personal activities (sports, friends, etc.). “And they’re right, since it’s all about balance,” reminds Dion. Mothers would be better off if they took the father’s lead more often.

Mothers, for their part, tend to fuse more with their child. To regain balance, fathers have a role to play in, for example, taking the initiative to plan outings for 2 or a simple candlelit dinner from time to time while the grandparents babysit. “Mothers have a hard time getting away from the mother-child symbiosis, so it’s up to the father to reestablish the family dynamic: a father and mother in love with each other, with a baby,” explains sex therapist Geneviève Parent.

If the partners don’t manage to find some balance, their child may become their only common ground. Therapist John Wright sees this often. “Couples risk using their child to unite them: the child becomes their connection, their reason for staying together and their source of energy,” explains Wright.

He’s noticed that these couples often set aside their adult problems. They dedicate themselves entirely to their child, so much and so well that the child receives more attention than each individual parent and the couple as a whole. “This is a mistake for both the couple and the child, who will develop insecurities seeing that his parents don’t satisfy each other and that he’s their only source of happiness. What a huge responsibility! If he could react as an adult, he’d probably tell you: go out, have fun and live a little without me!” says Wright.