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Still The One

January 2019

So what are the things we do that we credit with us still being together, still loving each other and still wanting to have sex with each other more now than in the beginning?!

As we head towards the 3rd anniversary of radically changing our lives we’re in a pensive mood here at LemonAid HQ…

How the heck did we get here?! How on Earth have we navigated our way through the turbulent emotions – our present ones, our past ones and our kids?!

While sometimes it might feel as though we are stumbling along blindly hoping for the best, there are certain things that have kept us on the same team, moving forward as a unit of six…albeit a unit with 12 legs that seem to be attempting to wander off in a variety of directions!

So this week we thought we’d share with you what’s worked for us over the past two and a half odd years – what’s kept us together, and how we’ve just about managed to work through the frequent flouncing, tears and tantrums.

To quote the underquoted Bridget Jones, please know this is not written from a ‘smug married’ place!!!! AT ALL. Hell we’re not even married yet! There are probably a zillion more strops before we make it up the aisle! We’re also under no illusions that we’ll be two brides who periodically still flounce off on our path to ‘Happy Ever After’!

No, this is from an ‘every day we work at this shit’ kinda place, a ‘Jesus H Christ we’re having THIS argument again’ place and a ‘Ohhhh, look how much easier things are when we do it this way – if only it hadn’t taken 356 times of doing it badly to realise it’ place!

Commit, Commit, Commit…

The most important thing we’ve both brought to the table is a commitment to working through the tough times together, including dealing with our emotional worlds and turbulent childhoods. However, that commitment gets sorely tested when we’re both massively triggered by our stuff and we’ve needed more than just the fine words of ‘we want to work through this’.

I’ve been in therapy for years on and off, and very early days when we were first discussing Lea’s adoption and the ways it may have affected her she decided to see a therapist too (OK, I may have ‘suggested’ it!). 

It’s been hugely beneficial – knowing that we each have a space and a person that is ours, outside of the relationship, to process our emotional stuff with. For it not to feel one-sided, where one of us relies solely on the relationship for that processing.

Process, Process, Process…

Coupled with that is our mutual ‘processing’ – trying to figure out what’s is going on between us, especially when we get triggered; that is, when we fly off the handle about something in the present moment that reminds us of or triggers past feelings and experiences. This feels like the biggest aid to us working through stuff together.

Therapy is only once a week or once a fortnight which means there’s still the space to hide, for things not to be addressed or even come up with our therapists. In a relationship, everything gets seen, raised, triggered. Frequently!

A classic example are my intimacy issues – my inability to let love and sex go together. I’m not sure this would have been easy or as quick to unravel in therapy. Being confronted with my intimacy issues and the ways I would try to avoid an intimate connection with Lea on a daily basis made it impossible to sweep under the proverbial rug!

Sportscast, Sportscast, Sportscast…

With the kids, the biggest tool we have used to help us and them to navigate their emotions has been sportscasting.

Originally used by childcare expert Janet Lansbury to help younger children by literally sportscasting what was physically going on “Ruby took the toy from you and you hadn’t finished playing with it.” – we go a step further and use it to help our children work out what they are feeling and why: “You’re hitting your sister, I’m wondering if you feel embarrassed because she laughed at your song.”

We have seen all of them in their different ways learn to be more direct, less passive aggressive and become more able to express themselves (including the shadow emotions of anger, jealousy, shame, embarrassment etc).

The ability to name and own their feelings usually shortens the time they spend angry and upset, and teaches them new ways to be (ways that many adults, myself included, often struggle with!).

Us, Us, Us…

The final thing that has been of such importance (although I’ve found this one the most difficult) has been the ability to treat ourselves, as a couple, as the strong and primary unit at the heart of the family, rather than act as two individual sets of three musketeers.

This has involved prioritising our relationship at times, and for me, dealing with a shed load of guilt! But that’s a whole other story, for next time…

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