So, you’re feeling a bit neglected by your partner. When you are a parent this is quite a usual experience. Kids have come along and everything has changed.
While you can often manage and adapt to this change in dynamic, there are still times when you need more from your partner. This can be hard to admit, and sometimes hard to broach.
Very often you may think that you need to be the one who solves problems, but expressing your needs is not being needy. It’s part of a relationship where you ask for stuff and then your partner provides and gives you what is missing, and vice versa.
Still, being vulnerable is difficult, especially as life with children is busy, and your partner has needs of their own. Maybe you never had to ask for attention before, but children likely take this attention. Dropping hints isn’t always better because this passive behaviour is likely not going to work.
The challenge for everyone then is working up the courage to say how you feel. Then the next step is thinking about what will happen if you stay silent? You will likely become resentful and start looking for attention elsewhere or you will only feel worse. Neither of these places is where you want to go.
If you are struggling with ways to broach the topic, then these are some suggestions for you!
1. “Is something different?”
Before you go and talk to your partner, ask yourself if something in your relationship is feeling off? By taking this moment to have a think, it helps you to figure out exactly what is happening. It could be that one of you is struggling with extra work, family is coming over to visit, or you haven’t been out as a couple for a while. If you have this time to think then it can help you be reflective of the situation and you will come to the conversation with empathy and details on how and why you are feeling neglected.
2. “I have something to talk about. Can we find a time to chat about it?”
When you are a parent of young children there is really never a good time to discuss emotions, and issues often get raised after they have gone to bed. This is an awful time to discuss your feelings as both of you will be tired after a long day.
By saying that you want to find a good time to discuss your feelings, you are giving your partner a heads up so they can prepare. While they may ask “What’s this about?” don’t answer it. You don’t want to have an absolute shocker of a conversation then and there. Instead say, “It’s nothing to worry about and you have done nothing wrong. I just want to talk about something.”
3. “Hey I’ve been feeling a bit neglected lately.”
Sometimes the best approach is the direct one as it will take the guesswork out. The main things here are tone and volume. Make sure you are calm and loving for both and keep things away from bluntness.
4. “I noticed that we haven’t been together as much. Have you?”
Because it’s an observation, this isn’t an attack on your partner. This could be followed with an example such as “We haven’t had a date night in over three months”, and then finish that with “Would you like to go to that new restaurant soon?”. You are starting the conversation with curiosity, and giving your partner more chances to find a solution.
5. “I know it might sound like extra pressure. That’s not my intent.”
Whatever you may have said in your conversation, it’s good to get these lines in. Any implication that you are unintentionally being left out will feel like extra pressure for your partner. They will think that you are sounding like another mouth to feed, so by adding this in, you are telling them you understand. You could start the conversation by saying, “I know you are feeling exhausted and knackered.” Be sure to stress that you want to find time to spend together and that you care about your relationship.
Whichever way you choose to broach the conversation, know that your feelings are valid and need to be expressed. What will most likely happen is that you will have a frank and honest conversation where you find out that your partner is feeling stressed and neglected as well. When you start this conversation, make sure to listen to their thoughts and opinions as well.