Relationships rarely involve just two people. There is nearly always a constellation of people involved – parents, in-laws, siblings, friends, co-workers, past or current lovers, and, of course, children.
The arrival a child into the world of a close couple is often an extremely difficult time. Suddenly all the love and intimacy and time that was available to the couple is under threat. How this is managed by the couple is crucial to their relationship lasting in a fruitful and positive way. Can the husband still trust that he is loved and cared-for when all his partner’s attention is directed to their new-born? Can the mother feel secure in her partner’s support and love when they are all so tired and enduring what seems like constant crying? Will her partner lean-in enough or might he walk away?
The situation is similar when older children, from previous relationships, join a household. Or when children reach the teen years and overnight transform into unreasonable, confrontational, and entitled creatures of the night! Can the couple meet the needs of everyone and still feel loved and secure in their relationship?
Core relationships thrive on a sense of security – that you absolutely have each other’s backs. That is so easy to say but in practice can be so hard to do. The main difficulty is knowing what it actually means. What kind of things and situations feel like my back isn’t covered? What makes me wobble and why? Can I share that without it developing into a shouting match? Can I own my insecurities or do I want someone else to do that for me?
These are the kinds of difficulties and complexities of intimate relationship and marriage. Relationship counselling can help enormously, even when there isn’t a threat of break-up. Just like a yoga or a gym session can be great for your body and soul, occasional relationship counselling or coaching can be great for your relationships.
Esther Perel has covered some of the issues arising in parenthood in her podcasts and I highly recommend a listen (especially in this context, “Motherless Women”): Where should we begin?