Making your marriage a priority

I was asked to sit on a panel at the recent Business Chicks event in Brisbane last weekend along with four other inspiring business women and mothers. We chatted and shared tips about the juggle — juggling motherhood and careers, taking time for yourself, carving out time for your husband, learning to say ‘no’, learning when to ask for help, etc.  It was such a fun afternoon and I walked away feeling extra inspired.

On that panel, I was asked the question: ‘How do you consciously make time for your marriage?’ As I very quickly took a second to think about my answer, I realised that, for me, it’s not so much about the big things, but more about the small adjustments. Carving out time for one-on-one time with each other is always really nice, and of course we enjoy that time, but it doesn’t have as much of an effect on our overall relationship.

When we lived in London and our lives were very busy and everything was quite scheduled, Michael and I had regular date nights. Technically speaking, we regularly carved out time for each other on a weekly basis.  And then…. we left London, spent 18 months on the road and literally spent every waking hour with our children and never once had a moment just us. However, those 18 months were the happiest we’ve ever been.  Of course it’s easy to be happy when you’re free of the drudgery of routine, the work grind, the school commitments and everything else that can clutter your everyday lives. But there was something deeper. I found that slowing down helped me to tune into our marriage in a way that I hadn’t done before, and it’s been a lesson for us moving forward.

As busy parents, it can be so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of life.  Sometimes entire days go by where you feel like you’re on parenting autopilot and you can get to the end of the day and realise you’ve never even locked eyes with your husband or truly acknowledged his existence. In fact, days like this can add up, and you can even get to the end of a week and realise you didn’t ever truly connect as lovers, partners, friends.  Sure, you co-parented and got the kids to school on time and packed their lunches and did the laundry and fed them dinner. But did you feel loved by your partner?

I have learned that in order for my relationship to feel healthy and exciting, we need to have more awareness for each other throughout the day. Small things like…. putting my arm around Michael’s waist when he’s in the kitchen, leaning over and kissing his neck when he’s in the bathroom brushing his teeth, walking up to him on the beach and just telling him I love him, or even just, instead of sitting on the opposite sofa at night to work on my laptop, just snuggling up next to him. I’ve learned the more I make him feel loved, the happier he is and the more love he gives in return, which leads to a happier, more loving marriage. It sounds cheesy, but sometimes I just have to slow down a tiny bit throughout the day to tune into how I’m feeling and how I’m making my husband feel, and make little tweaks throughout the day to ensure we both feel loved.

Of course some weeks are easier than others and our relationship isn’t always smooth sailing. Admittedly, I find it much easier to love on Michael when I’m in the first few weeks of my menstrual cycle. I am especially attracted to him around the time I ovulate… and then the week before my period, I find that I get annoyed much more easily and find it less appealing to love on him. I have to assume this is all very natural? (Has anyone else noticed this pattern?) But again, this is where it’s good to slow down and pay attention to these little things. Having awareness of how you feel and how you’re making your partner feel is only healthy in your relationship.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. What works for you in your relationship with your partner? What tips can you share for making it a priority? Please share below.

Courtney x

The photos above were snapped by my friend, Amelia Fullarton, earlier this year for a feature in Milk Magazine


Comments (38)

October 25, 2018

yes, yes, yes. I can so relate on “more love for my husband in the first weeks of my menstrual cycle”. a week before my period I often can’t stand him and ask myself why I married him. a few days later I’m sooo in love with him and he is the best partner on the planet (which he really is). I’m 41 and I only realized this a few months ago that all those ups and downs in my relationship to my husband depending (mostly) on my hormons/cycle. Good lord!

October 25, 2018

This rings so true to me. Certainly the part about my mood towards my partner. The week before my period is almost a no go to anything loving and I’m less patient. Whilst after my period im extra loving. I had started noticing this more and more as a pattern. Glad to know its not just me!

October 25, 2018

Yes absolutely my feeling are exactly the same throughout my menstrual cycle! Think that’s totally normal. So interesting though!! I love your take on keeping the day to day awareness with your partner. It’s so key.

October 25, 2018

Excellent article and you are so right.

October 25, 2018

Gosh, what an important post! Thank you for sharing.

October 25, 2018

Oh my goodness yes! This is EXACTLY how I feel throughout my cycle. I have especially noticed it since having a baby and each time I go into the being annoyed and unnattracted stage it takes me by surprise. And then a few days in I’m like “oh! Yes that’s right.” I much prefer the passionately enjoying each other part!!

October 25, 2018

Absolutely yes. With a toddler and baby I’ve found it so hard to also “be a wife”. I don’t have time for myself yet, so I find it difficult to add my husband into the mix of time needs. He’s usually the more tactile/affectionate one, but even that’s waned with babe 2 and the combined sleep deprivation. I love your little tips of small moments, to remind him that I love him and like him! Hormones play a huge role. After speaking with lots of friends, breastfeeding I think takes up so much energy and hormonal swings that it’s important to remember your partner. A date night would be great, but I think little efforts of affection and care can make more of an impact.

Courtney in Australia
October 25, 2018

Oh my gosh, I should have totally mentioned this too. Thank you for pointing it out. Of course pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones play a huge role, and admittedly, I didn’t really have any sex drive (or even head space for our relationship) during the first six months (even up to a year) after my babies were born. It takes time, and we should honour that and give ourselves the time and space. Because I’ve now had several babies, I’m always reassured during those baby months that I will certainly feel sexually attracted to Michael again (and he trusts it too), it will just take time. And it does.
Give yourself a break. Be open with your partner. Explain how you feel and how you look forward to feeling in the future. This open communication has always helped with our relationship.
Thanks for your comment. x

October 25, 2018

this is exactly the same for me…ovulating…not ovulating…everything natural and not easy to control

October 25, 2018

Yes! My feelings and our interactions are very tied to my cycle and that week before my period has only gotten worse entering into my forties. Glad I’m not alone! Have an amazing husband, just don’t ask me about him that week before my period. I try my best to track it so he/we can anticipate. Strange how he is the target and not our kids. And I agree, small bits of physical connection is what works in the day-to-day family chaos. Greetings from Philadelphia!

October 25, 2018

Thank you for sharing this post. Especially love the bit about how during certain times of your cycle it’s easier to love on your partner. It is so true! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. 🙂

October 25, 2018

This initiates a big and important reflection for me. I will also be curious to know your opinion and that of the other inspiring women you talk about juggling motherhood and careers, taking time for yourself, carving out time for your husband, learning to say ‘no’, learning when to ask for help, etc. Was there a recording of this event what you can see ?
Thank you so much Courtney for this sharing.

October 25, 2018

You have a such a beautiful way with words, thank you for sharing. It makes so much sense ❤️

October 25, 2018

Thank you for talking about this, it is a subject that is very relevant to me right now. I found after our first child it was relatively easy to get back into our relationship but after our second child things have changed. We don’t have as much time for each other, we are easily annoyed with each other and as you say, days and even weeks can pass without much quality time for one another. I can see that our relationship is not where we would both like it to be.

But, I have to admit something. I am slightly resentful that as the woman, I seem to be expected to be the one to resolve it. By my partner, but also by society/the media etc. I don’t see articles aimed at men, asking them if they prioritise their relationship, but I see a lot aimed at women. In some cases inferring that if they don’t pay enough attention to their spouse, he might lose interest in them? I know this is an extreme example (and it’s certainly not implied in your article) but I do feel a pressure to be everything for everybody. It sometimes feels like another thing to add to our list. Everyone else’s needs before our own.

Courtney in Australia
October 26, 2018

Thank you so much for sharing this and for being so honest about your relationship. I think it will resonate so much with so many others!
You’ve raised a really interesting and valid point. I actually almost touched on this in my post, but didn’t.
I agree that there is so much pressure on us as women to balance everything and give everyone a fair piece of ourselves, ‘to be everything for everybody’ as you’ve said. Obviously, before anything else, we have to honour our feelings and needs and really make sure that we are being fair to ourselves. And obviously I do think men should have just as much responsibility to ensure our relationships are being nurtured.
This is actually an argument I sometimes have with Michael. Because we are both eldest children from a big family, we are both stubborn and neither of us naturally like to admit we are wrong. I have to remind myself sometimes to soften a bit and be the first one to love on him, because it has to start with one of us. But like you, one of my frustrations is that it’s usually ME who usually does it first, and it shouldn’t always be.
But then I remind myself that the most important thing is that I’m aware of my feelings, and that I’m trying, and I try to communicate clearly with Michael that I feel that way. Communication always helps. And sometimes just sharing how you feel can make you feel so much better, even if you don’t see immediate changes.
Anyway, thanks so much for sharing. x

October 25, 2018

It’s weird. I actually feel most amorous towards my partner when I’m on my period. It makes no sense to me. But I have to imagine I’m not the only one for whom this happens. We have two kids, so clearly we’ve also connected around my ovulation time. I know that’s not all you do asked about regarding keeping your relationship strong through parenting and life, but it did spur an opportunity for me to share this one thing.

Courtney in Australia
October 25, 2018

I love that you’ve shared this. Thank you!
I’ll admit that I do start to feel amorous toward Micheal too toward the end of my period. For me, the lack of affection is mostly noticeable the week prior.
But in any case, I agree with you that it’s so important to pause and take time to understand our own bodies and just to know how you’re feeling within your cycle. x

October 25, 2018

I think understanding your cycle and sharing it with your lover is so important, I explained a woman cycle on my third date with my lover and we talk openelly about where I’m at .

October 25, 2018

Same pattern here, and you know what helped my marriage a LOT? Telling my husband about this.
He totally takes advantage of my ovulating period! And he leaves me a little away on the ‘hard’ week, which is exactly what I need.
Excelente post! Thank you

October 26, 2018

I really love this article. Marriage is so easily put on the back burner while caught up in the day to day parenting busyness. I too have recently recognized this pattern with my cycle and my emotions/affection towards my husband. I have also noticed, that it truly is the little things that count. These little thing are huge in retrospect. Feeling loved, even by the smallest gestures- grows a relationship. It grows happiness. And it has a rippling affect, which can be so refreshing if you’ve been in a bad rut and feeling less than great with your relationship. I recently felt that way and asked myself, do I make my husband feel good and loved? And sadly my own response was- no… not lately… So I’ve been making a conscious effort and he naturally is more affectionate and loving toward me, which makes me a happy wife. It’s one of those things, quite simple but not always easy. It’s a conscious effort that needs to be made. And it makes all the difference! I adore you Courtney, I’ve been so inspired by you over the years you are a wonderful role model to me. Thank you for this! Xo

October 26, 2018

I had to smile when you said you got a bit annoyed before your period cause I absolutely adore my husband hes my everything!!! and when I’m near my period I have a much harder time not thinking everything seems so much more amplified and annoying! But EVERY single day I’m the first to approach and love on him when he comes home from work , we say I love you everytime we say goodbye…no matter what! And we have older kids and so we do shut down at 9 and say its mommy and daddy’s time now… really trying to always see the goods and letting those overpower any bad is what we both try. And calm conversations on things that need handled.:)

October 26, 2018

I really recommend reading Alexandra Pope and Tami Lynn Kent as there is so much richness in understanding our femininity and in particular our connnection through our menstrual cycles. It has been a revalation to me to really I understand my cycle, not just the biology and hormones, but the cyclical emotions. Alexandra explains the cycle as having 4 seasons and this is so true for most women. Winter – bleed time, spring- preovulation, summer- ovulation, premenstrual – autumn. Once you really dive into this it so makes sense and for me it explains my emotions and actions too. Winter needs rest and regeneration. Spring is full of energy and new growth (this is the time in your cycle to start new projects with enthusiasm!) Summer is confident, out there, amazing! This is the time to present that new idea! Autumn is about gathering in, preparing to rest, for me it’s produvtive but also singleminded and it’s my time to be easily overwhelmed by the needs of others.
If you take it further there is so much info to be found in which ‘season’ we find hard/easy/loving/overwhelming etc. this really is the a key to our femininity and our connection through this to our history (herstory 😉) Then you can also connect this to the 4 stages of women’s lives (maiden, mother, maga, crone) and later that up with the seasons of your cycle – maiden – spring etc etc!
As you might have guessed I love this stuff, it’s so rich in wisdom! I wish someone had told me when I was a girl (luckily there are now some great books out there for girls) as I feel a little sad it took me till my mid 30s to really want to get to know myself and my cycles. If I had a daughter I’d be all over it, I have a son and I am gently trying to share and show him too though! The more men that connect the better the world will be!
(Apols for any typos – on my phone!)

Courtney in Australia
October 26, 2018

Thank you so much, Doremi, for this beautiful comment. I love thinking of our cycle in four seasons. What a beautiful analogy! I should definitely look up Alexandra Pope and Tami Lynn Kent. Thanks so much. x

October 26, 2018

Thank you for sharing.. I really resonate with this at the moment.. we have 2 beautiful girls.. 4 and 2 and both running our own businesses and definately feel like passing ships in the night and it was only last night we had the discussion about starting to prioritize a bit more time out for us and even just becoming more affectionate again.. as you said.. all the little things add up.. I love reading your stories and following your journey.. thank you for allowing us into your lives!

Courtney in Australia
October 26, 2018

Ah, thanks so much for that sweet comment and for sharing.
Just talking about it with your husband and acknowledging you want to be more affectionate again makes SUCH a difference already (at least we have found). x

October 26, 2018

Just to add to my previous comment.. we also travelled for 12 months when my youngest was 15 months and had our second daughter half way through our travels and it really was the best time of our lives as a family.. we had the most beautiful quality time together and it was such a beautiful period of growth and connection for us all!

October 26, 2018

Loved this! I definitely agree with the impact that hormones have on a relationship. Last week was the week before my period and i was irritated easily and short with my significant other. I feel so bad for him looking at it now, but at least I can now tecognize where it was coming from!

October 26, 2018

I think your advice on what works for you is absolutely the best thing I have ever heard someone say on marriage and relationships. It is the small jestures that make all the difference…bravo!!

October 26, 2018

Love the way you show us (and really believe) how importante it is to SLOW DOWN to show love!!!!! Every time I read you, I find out how easy some thing are! Thanks for reminding us so, and please keep on doing it!

October 26, 2018

We have been married 28 years and I could not agree with you more! The magic of touch can never be over overestimated, I almost never walk by my husband in the kitchen without some small connection as is the same for him, doesn’t have to be much, someone else may not even notice but it makes both of us feel special and loved even during a very busy time. Our teenage daughter (our youngest) says dad also shows you everyday how much he loves you when he teases you. Funny what they notice. We have also noticed that both our adult sons both love and play with their partners the same way. Never commented before but I identified so much with this!

October 26, 2018

I’ve found that having a baby together has bonded us as we share this intense love for our daughter and are both equally enthralled. However, as the mother and the one breastfeeding so much of my energy goes into the baby and my sex drive has gone right down.
I had a traumatic birth and our baby is not a good sleeper so that’s not helped but I think breastfeeding diminishes your oestrogen (I still haven’t had my period back), which affects your libido. I guess it’s your body’s way of saying ‘no more babies’! I certainly feel like I’m giving everything I’ve got to give and while I love affection, sex is just another thing I’ve got to do when I’d rather have a second to myself! Luckily my partner is understanding. It’s been 9 months already so hopefully she’ll start sleeping a bit better, feeding a bit less and I’ll get back my sex life back some day soon! Thanks for the article xx

October 26, 2018

Dear Courtney,
Even though we don’t know each other it seems I have known you
Already many years because I follow you on Instagram and really love so much your picture and what you write!I love the appearent
Simplicity of your house and life!It helps me so much every day to try to my house as simple and beautiful as yours!!!Less is more!
I adored your 18 months trip around the world!I have 3 kids and one dog and 1 husband and live in Italy!!!My dream would be to leave close to a beach as you do….
My thoughts about marriage and love are so similar than yours….every day at least a little something
For and to my husband even though life is caotic….I live in a city but struggle for an easier life but it’s not easy my husband is a lauyer… inspire me every single day and your empty house also I just love it!!
Lots of Love

Courtney in Australia
October 28, 2018

This is honestly one of the sweetest comments I’ve ever read. Thank you so much for your sweet words.
Lots of love back to you from Australia,
Courtney x

Annie from Brimful
October 26, 2018

C, this was another wonderful post – and I add my agreement to the other commenters. My cycle most definitely effects the level of attention and romantic feelings I have toward my husband. I’m grateful we’ve been together long enough now that he knows that cycle well and gives me more emotional space when I’m having my moody week. I wanted to share the link to this article, which Esther and I actually chatted about over text earlier this year 😉. It’s on the notion of emotional labor. I believe partners who understand this concept really go a long way in communicating and functioning better as a couple.

October 26, 2018

I love that so many ladies are relating to the menstrual cycle and it’s affects on their feelings towards their partners! We’re definitely not alone ladies! X

October 26, 2018

I relate to this pattern: post-bleeding to a couple of days after ovulation I am generally at my best and surely more loving towards my partner. PMS hits me a day or two before my cycle and makes me want to curl up and hide from the world, my partner included…

November 5, 2018

OMG, Cortney, thank you sooo much for mentioning a cycle related love ups&downs!!! Feeling so much more normal now…

November 12, 2018

Courtney, good afternoon! I will first thank you and thank you. It is important to say thanks to each other, even if you don’t know each other personally.I am very inspired by your family.Hopefully in the near future, too, to move to Australia.We are from Russia, here are not the easiest climatic conditions for life.These are your thoughts so important and necessary now. I have two babies (1 year and 3 years), I get so tired + this endless winter … I think it is very important to understand to accept your femininity. Then it will be not only easier, but and it’s more pleasant to love a husband and blame yourself. Thank you, Courtney, and all women for thinking about important topics.

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