Having children and pets improves your relationship with your loved one. Sounds counterintuitive I know. Both of the above change your life, take away most of the "free" time and add a tremendous amount of stress emotionally and financially. So how could having children and a pet improve your relationship? Because both of them teach you the following five lessons which, when mastered, should be applied to your loved one also.
1. Forgiveness. Hard one to master made even harder because of how soon after the incident you have to forgive. Because while you may be used to fuming and arguing in your head for hours, with kids and pets it doesn't work. After the timeout you have to forgive them. You have to because you are their parent literally and figuratively speaking and love is what you are about. They "paid" the price and now all is supposed to be good with you back to the sweet and wonderful caregiver.
You are being taught that kids, pets and partners are NOT PERFECT and you have to be able to forgive them and move on lovingly. No it's not easy and no it doesn't apply to everything. However, unless you want your life to be a constant struggle and fight remembering all of the things they did wrong you have to let go. Appreciate them for all the good they are and allow the "bad" moments to be just that, moments that pass.
2. Patience. Oh boy, do kids and pets need it. Both require tons of it even though they tend not listen to most things you say, at least the first dozen times. A command takes a while for a dog to master never mind a child. The attention span is minimal, both poop everywhere and laugh/bark in your face when you ask them for the hundredth time to do something.
Your loved ones are cut from the same cloth. Just think of how many times you asked your partner to put their keys in the same place only to have them making you look for them every morning. Patience is hard but it is a far better alternative.
3. Vulnerability. Your kids and your pets are vulnerable. The emotional and protective walls they build to use elsewhere are mostly absent around you because you are the parent. Your every word and deed when done in anger or frustration cuts straight to their core. Before you say something to your children I want you to imagine hearing the same words coming from your father or mother. How would you feel if they said that to you? And if you don't like the feeling don't say it to them!
Your partner is the same way. They protect themselves emotionally and psychologically all day and when they get home they let go of the armor because they feel safe. If you attack because they did something "wrong" or you are pissed off, it will hurt far more because it came from you -- the person they love and the person they think loves them.
4. Selflessness. Much too often we live in our own little world filled with our problems, ambitions and desires. When you are around your kids and pets your focus needs to shift away from you and onto them. The most aggravating times are those when you are trying to finish something for work and your kids are desperate for your attention. Everyone gets hurt in this scenario unless you give way to them.
Same goes for your partner. Remove yourself from your world and occupy the one you build together. They need your full attention and presence not merely half listening while doing something else. Be truly excited about what is happening with them or be the shoulder to cry on. Bottom line, be with them when you are together.
5. Prioritization. Their priorities are not your priorities! You may think that cleaning up the bathroom once your kids are done is uber important and they think that proper selection of different socks is much more vital. You may think that wiping your dog's paws after walking is paramount while his focus seems to be the drumstick you left on your kitchen table.
Your partner is no different. What ranks as number one on your list maybe the last thing on theirs. Understanding those differences and mutual re-prioritization are keys to a healthy relationship.
Thus, as strange as it may seem, your children and your pets are indeed teaching you the most important lessons of relationships. If you chose to learn them and then apply them to your loved one you will stand to gain in a great way. You will appreciate your partner for who they are and pay less attention to their imperfections. You will build your life together in trust and harmony and isn't that what you both want anyway?
Allen Vaysberg is a relationship and life coach, who specializes in helping people find their purpose and align with it. For more information, click here.