PARENT ALLIANCE® was conceived a year ago, when I sat in a Relationship Coaching class, and learned a technique called: Designing the Partnership Alliance (DPA).
What’s a DPA? A way to help relationships get in sync. As I sat there, I thought to myself:
Wouldn’t it be great if couples—those expecting, as much as those with kids—had a way to envision who they’d like to be as co-parents, and the relationship they want, after they have children? Wouldn’t it be even better if they had fun and effective tools to turn their visions into reality, to create an alliance with each other that’s not just about getting in sync, but staying connected and fulfilled as a couple and as a parenting team?
Okay, well, maybe I didn’t phrase it that way in that moment—if only because my 20-month old wasn’t sleeping much at the time, so I was toast—but the impulse was there, the vision was there and, after months working with couples, PARENT ALLIANCE® is here.
Here’s my belief: It’s our birthright to be in fulfilling relationships, even after we have kids. A friend of mine thinks I sound “cultish” when I use words like birthright, but I’m going to run that risk.
Just to be clear, I’m not claiming you have to have a spouse, or you can’t have a great life or kids without one. I am staking a claim for those of us with husbands, wives, life partners, significant others, beloveds—whatever we call the person with whom we’re intimately involved and raising a family—that we, parents, have every right to remain happy and satisfied in our relationships.
What does happy and satisfied mean? That depends on you, your spouse, and your relationship.
What do I mean by it? For me it includes things like: respecting each other (even when we disagree); honoring our values (not just the ones we share but the ones we hold individually, too); communicating well (or, at least, figuring out how to douse the fire, or slow burn, of fights as quickly as possible); having goofy fun with each other (even when our daughter isn’t around); supporting each other’s dreams (even when we don’t share them); and having sex (which sometimes also means having great sex).
The truth is that most of us aren’t really taught—at least not in the way we’re taught to read or write—how to do relationships or how to be parents. Is it any wonder, then, that just as we’re expectant, or brand new, parents and in the throes of celebrating the miracle of life, the joy of babies, many of us are also fretting, or about to fret, about the toll that our miracle, our bundle of joy, takes on our relationship with each other?
Having a baby and becoming parents are life-changing experiences that propel us on exciting, and scary, learning curves. Since they’re also often relationship-changing events, why not maximize what we learn so that babies and parenting are upsides for us as couples? Heck, if you won’t do it for yourselves, consider doing it for your kid/s.
As marriage expert, Dr. John Gottman says: The greatest gift you can give your baby is a happy and strong relationship between the two of you.
Don’t get me wrong: I know that our culture tells a really compelling story about putting our intimate relationships on hold—or away forever—as the price we pay for having kids. I’ve heard friends say (okay, okay, I’ve even heard myself say) things like they wish they could swing a weekly, or even monthly, date-night but it’s too hard to find the time, or it’s too expensive, or they can’t find a sitter, or their child isn’t comfortable with sitters, or they can’t wait until their kids are older so they have their lives, and their relationship, back, or, or, or….
PARENT ALLIANCE® is devoted to a different story: One about strengthening, honoring, and sustaining our relationships as parents; one about creating an alliance with our spouses—as a couple, as a parenting team—that’s good for us individually, for each other, for our relationship and, yes, for our kids.
That other story, the one devoted to making sure our intimate relationships thrive after we have children, is what’s going to drive this blog. In the coming weeks, months and, I hope, years, I’ll be sharing ideas on how to create a PARENT ALLIANCE®, including some of the tools I use with couples, which you’ll be able to explore with your spouse (or even on your own if he or she isn’t into them).
Maybe if more of us knew how to create those kinds of alliances, we’d be able to teach more children about how to do relationships, how to be parents, and how to do both at once in a way that’s fulfilling, exciting, and lasting. Who knows what that future might hold? I’d really love to find out. I hope you’ll join me here, on PARENT ALLIANCE®, to write that story together.