Dear Therapist:

I am a mother of a large family...with a...healthy good marriage. I have come across many times in articles, speeches, etc.… a concept that is stressed that when couples talk just between themselves (i.e. date nights, walks, or just some good old schmoozing), they shouldn't talk about the kids and about the husband's work. We are told that couples should speak about "other stuff like they spoke when they were dating.” My question is: what is wrong about talking about the kids or work? At this point, the children have basically taken over my whole life, and I actually do enjoy hearing about my husband’s work. Is that a crime? People generally discuss what they are busy with and of course, when we were dating we were busy with other things. Personally, I don't see why discussing Trump's wall or the latest hock is better than discussing work or the children.

I would love to hear the panelist's opinion.

 

Response:

I don’t know the sources for the quoted opinions. I do understand the general concept behind them. There is a tendency for married couples to become entrenched in the minutiae of everyday life, often neglecting their marital relationship. This can lead to emotional separation and a general loss of closeness. Taking time off from regular daily activities can help to bring couples closer. This can also help to relieve any stress surrounding daily family and work life.

Even within families that have no major issues, dealing with all the responsibilities related to children, finances, and home life can become stressful or monotonous. And even couples who do not feel stressed can become lackadaisical toward their marital relationship.

Most of us have multiple types of relationships with many people. We have immediate family relationships (group and individual), extended family relationships, social relationships, and work relationships. We work on different relationships in different ways. When two relationship types become enmeshed, it can be easy to work on both together and in the same way. Though this is not necessarily a problem, sometimes one (or both) of the relationships can suffer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that obvious issues evolve; but it can mean that the relationship may not reach its full potential.

Typically, when we focus on family matters we aren’t truly working on our personal relationship with our spouse. That being said, every marital relationship is different. I don’t believe that general, all-encompassing directives should be taken at face value without properly applying them to our individual situations. For you, for instance, discussing the children and other aspects of your lives may enrich your relationship, and can help you feel closer to one another. However, even if this is so, you may find that working every so often on your relationship per sé can add another dimension to your connection.

Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW

 psychotherapist in private practice

 Brooklyn, NY   |   Far Rockaway, NY

 author of Self-Esteem: A Primer

 www.ylcsw.com / 718-258-5317