Eight Dates Challenge – Week 5 – Room to Grow – Family

The Basics

This chapter delves into a crucial topic on how to communicate about your idea of what type of family that you want to build as a couple.  It is a very quick read for such a deep topic, at 13-14 pages.  This one is very easy to read through and hand off to your partner.  So, if you get to your planned date and you haven’t read the chapter yet, it would be pretty easy to get caught up on the reading before engaging the topics.  And yes… I am recommending that you actually read the chapter before engaging in the discussions!

Reflections

I really appreciated the vignette that is the lead-in to the chapter.  It clearly demonstrated how the topic of family could easily become a wedge in a relationship.  As a couples therapist, I clearly saw familiar themes in this example and I feel that many couples would resonate with the discussion between the couple.  I was grateful that the vignette took the couple beyond a disagreement on how many children that they would prefer and dived into an exploration on how each partner arrived at their own personal answer.  The exploration included taking the time to try to understand your partner’s experience within their family of origin and how that may lead to their current stance.  In my opinion, this is a critical skill for all couples and is a foundational theme in the pre-marital work that Joella and I do.  It is summed up very well on page 145, “However you define family is up to you and your partner.  What’s most important is that you talk about what family means and what you both want your family to look like and be like.”

A second theme that caught my attention was how some dominant themes in our culture covertly influence how we interact, value and connect with our partners once children have come into the picture.  This covert influence often leads partners to allow distance to form in their relationship as they both work to make sure that the kids come first in all areas of life.  The authors highlight that many parents who choose to continue to prioritize and cultivate their own relationship end up feeling passively shamed, and may be perceived as less-than-ideal parents.  I applaud the authors in dismantling this myth and how they use their own research to demonstrate that one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your children is a satisfying relationship with you partner that creates space for flexibility and humor and focuses on involvement with one another and a commitment to continued intimacy and connection.

The Date

I found that the recommendations for the date itself were very simple, clear and made a lot of sense.  The first two questions that it recommended for discussion could easily lead to several hours of discussion that would generate opportunities for connection… even on topics that often lead to feelings of disconnection.  I also liked how the recommendations for location of the date were tied into the overall theme of the chapter.

We hope that you enjoy this particular date, and that you are able to find deeper connection through this topic!

I am personally looking forward to next week’s topic – “Play with Me – Fun and Adventure”, and I am excited to share my reflections!  Until then, happy dating!

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