Couple Communication Tips for Back to School

As I was heading to work one day, a few weeks ago, I  was struck by all the cars on the road.  I said to myself, “What the heck” and began to feel frustrated.  Then it dawned on me, “Kids are going back to school!”  My frustration with all the traffic on the road, quickly turned to gratitude as I realized that kids were going back to school, and their parents and couples could begin to return to some normalcy.


I know we’re not out of the woods yet, especially with the Delta variant causing problems, but hopefully we’re learning a bit from the last 18 months and are beginning to come together in our families and communities.  


Many of you in my BuildingCoupleTime community are moms and couples with young children: infants, preschoolers, and some kindergartners.  It’s hard enough trying to juggle all the balls of marriage and family life with young children, without the unprecedented stress of continuing to worry about the pandemic and children under 12 not having a vaccine available yet.


After working with many moms and couples with young children, I’ve asked them how they are doing with the Covid Delta variant around now?  How are they feeling about sending their kids back to daycare, preschool, or even kindergarten?


One mom shared she was torn.  A part of her was looking forward to getting back to some sense of normalcy and sending her kids back to school, while another part of her was feeling scared about the what if’s . . . 


A dad shared his relief as a sign of trying to get back to how things used to be before March, 2020.


Are you talking to each other about your concerns?  It's okay if you are having differing thoughts and feelings.  It’s important to give each other the time and space to share your worries or concerns, instead of having them build up inside you, leading to more stress and feeling disconnected from your partner.  


This is a crucial time to stay connected to your spouse and share your concerns and fears with each other.  It’s also important to reassure each other and work together as a team.  It’s normal to have a variety of thoughts and feelings as this is new territory for you and many other couples and parents with young children.


Communication Tips for understanding conversations with your spouse:

  • Know that you and your spouse may be having different feelings, thoughts, opinions and desires on various topics.
  • Respect those differences, as you and your spouse are not clones of each other.
  • Talk calmly, and if you get upset and start to get derailed, take a time out.  Remember to go back to the conversation after you or your partner have calmed down.
  • Pay attention to who is the speaker and who is the listener.    


Tips for Speaker:

  • Pick one topic to discuss and speak for yourself.  Don’t crossover and speak for your partner.  
  • State your feelings and desires and concisely as you can, to help your partner understand you.
  • Appreciate your partner and give them the benefit of the doubt for trying to understand you by listening to you.
  • Breathe
  • Clarify what you mean.


Tips for Listener:

  • Be curious, interested, and caring with what your partner is sharing with you.
  • Temporarily set aside your own thoughts and feelings so you can really hear what your partner is trying to share with you.
  • Be like a mirror and reflect back what you hear your partner saying to you.
  • Breathe
  • Remember, listening to your partner does not mean you are agreeing with them.  You are just holding space for them to share with you.
  • To show you are listening, use the phrase, “I hear you saying . . .” or “Let me see if I understand you, you’re saying . . .”
  • To validate your partner, use the phrase, “That makes sense that you feel . . . “  


As you are struggling with conflicting feelings about your kids going back to day-care or school?  You are not alone.  Many parents and couples are struggling with how to cope in this new territory.


I hope you use these communication tips to support each other and get through this together as a team.  Use the communication tips with your children as well.  


Here’s to building couple time, with your family in mind,

❤️ Lori



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