How to Kid-Proof Your Marriage with Katie Rössler
Bringing two unique people together in a relationship can be tough even before kids are in the picture! On this episode of the Raiseology Podcast, I’m talking with Katie Rössler on why it’s tough, but so important to prioritize your relationship. Katie shares tips that you can start implementing today!
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“I love to use the analogy of like when you plant a seed in the soil, you water it, you put in front of the sun and sort of the why do we do that? We know it’s going to grow, but it takes a while before we even see that plant come out of the soil but we still take care of it. Why do we not take care of our relationship with that same trust, that it will grow and be healthy when we actually do things to nurture it?
Katie Rössler is a licensed professional counselor from the USA living in Munich, Germany. She has over 10 years experience working with individuals, couples and families on improving their relationships and enjoyment of life. Through her business Positive Connections, she teaches people the tools to work on their communication and connection in the comfort of their own home.
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Welcome to the Raiseology podcast with your host, pediatrician and parenting consultant, Sharon Somekh here to empower parents to raise resilient and independent children. Grab your coffee or your Margarita and let’s get started. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should be used to supplement rather than substitute the care provided by your physician.
Sharon: News Flash overwhelmed moms, most of us feel stuck when it comes to parenting effectively, mostly because we second guessed our parenting decisions, we feel guilty when we’re too firm, we lose our patients and yell when things aren’t going how we planned. Bottom line, parenting without direction feels like a bumpy roller coaster you don’t want to be on but can’t seem to get off of, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s the good news. I’ve been working behind the scenes to gather a community of amazing, overwhelmed moms from all across the globe who are getting together to support each other, feel more secure in their motherhood, enjoy their children more, and start building strong lasting relationships with their families. We don’t complain. We don’t moan. We take action. Simply join this free Facebook community at Raiseology.com/community or search in Facebook for the group called parenting with love and authority. I’m excited to meet you there.
Hi everyone. Welcome to the Raiseology Podcast. I have with me today Katie Rossler. She is a licensed professional counselor from the USA, living in Munich, Germany, which is pretty cool. Um, she has over 10 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families on improving their relationships and enjoyment of life. Through her business, Positive Connections, she teaches people on tools to work on their communication and connection in the comfort of their own home. After four years of being a stay at home mom, she created the Chief Household Officer Academy, which teaches and empowers people to run their households like entrepreneurs do a business. Katie has two girls, four and two, and she loves to be outside with her family. She’s a lover of Sushi, me too, yoga and the beach and laughing. Um, today we are going to cover the struggles that marriages go through after kids. And how do kids proof your marriage. So welcome Katie. Thank you so much for being here.
Katie: Thank you, Sharon. I’m really excited to be on your show.
Sharon: Oh, I’m excited to have you here. So let’s talk a little bit about, you know, like, I mean, let’s just get right to it. Honestly. I mean, marriage is a big thing all on its own. It’s something that requires, you know, it really is, you’re taking two completely individual people and trying to have them work in harmony together to form a relationship. Right? And then, you know, and that’s hard enough I think for some people without throwing kids into the mix and we throw kids in the mix. So like how do you see that affecting people? Um, and really what, what do people struggle with?
Katie: Well, I think the, the number one thing that I see with the couples I work with is they go from kind of living individual lives, even in a partnership, to bringing this little being into the world and they never really sat down and created like a we mentality. We goals, we, you know, the whole, it’s us now. And what happens is like this kind of triangulation occurs where it’s the mom and the baby against the dad or later on the toddler and the dad against the mom. You know, the, it’s the struggle all of a sudden that comes about. And when they get into my office, um, many times that’s the first thing I had them do is like what are your goals as a couple? Like what are the things you want because you so often just think about what I want in my career, what I want as a mom, what I want, you know, I, I, and we lose track of the we. And so that to me is the biggest, like tip number one right off the bat is to sit down and say, what do we want and what is we look like?
Sharon: So you’re saying couples neglect this stuff before they have kids. And so when they do have kids, it’s just doesn’t exist.
Katie: Most times. Cause often, and maybe think about it, you’re, you’re in your family of origin and it’s just you, you know, like, yes, you care about your parents and siblings or whatever. Then you’d go off to university or you go off into the working world and it’s you and then you partner up somewhere in there and there isn’t this like how do we become a we. Like we think that we should naturally have this figured out, right? But the reality is we tend to be very self centered, selfish people. This is our nature and so when we come together with someone, we have to start to think differently. But often we don’t have that conversation.
We dream about what it’ll be like to have kids. We dream about where we want to live, we dream about those things. So that makes us think we have a we mentality but we’re not talking about what happens when we don’t get any sleep and like it’s like, you know, roommates basically how are, how are we going to handle those situations? How are we going to handle when one of our parents become sick, how are we going to handle when a loss and grief happens, how are we going to handle a big career change or a move? The we discussions don’t really happen. The we dreaming does, like what would we want to look like? Um, but not the like, let’s really set goals. Let’s talk about what are our mission statement as a couple is. What do we want for our lives together?
Sharon: Yeah, it’s really interesting. And so what do you see, I guess as the result of that? Like can you give me a little bit more on, like what does that, how does that affect a couple?
Katie: Yeah. So what happens is very often, like I said, the triangulation of mom baby against the dad. And you’ll see it in arguments that all of a sudden the mom with like take the kid and kind of just storm off or walk away, sort of, um, kind of like a, a dagger in the side. The kid is mine and we’re gone, kind of thing. And it becomes this power struggle versus it’s the two parents together. This, this couple, these partnership together and our child is, doesn’t have the power to then influence us in that way.
So it’s truly just about a power dynamic that occurs often. The other piece is that we often feel I’m alone. Like, well, you don’t help me. You’re not a part of things. And our partner might go, I don’t know what to do or I feel like I’m doing all this and you’re not even seeing it because there was no, we conversation about what does it mean to help me in this time?
What is it like to all of a sudden be a mom and not really have a clue what’s going on, but what to feel like you do have a clue? What does it feel like to be a dad and not have a clue what’s going on and want to feel like you have a clue? Those types of conversations we rarely talk about with each other because we don’t like to be that vulnerable. And so what happens is this divide, this, this wall between us continues to happen. We stop talking. Date nights become arguing fest. Everything just becomes tension. And it really stems back to the communication and getting back to the, the heart of the couple, as a we.
Sharon: Do feel that, um, when a couple has kids, they neglect to even if they maybe do feel like a we, you feel like they neglect to protect that we and prioritize their relationship?
Katie: Yeah, very much. I think it’s very easy for us to drop our relationship first. We’re, we’re there to take care of the kids. So it makes sense that all of a sudden our priorities are that and maybe we have work or our home or whatever responsibilities we have. And so very often our relationship, we think like, we’re good. We’re, you know, we’re partnered. We’re not leaving each other and, and we take it for granted.
And then we get into this sort of loop of, um, I don’t feel like they respect me. I don’t feel like you respect me, you know, and it becomes a struggle because if we just from the beginning say, hey, you matter and this is how I’m going to show you, you matter by, we’re going to carve out time, even 15 minutes a day to just like be friends and say, you know, how are you? What’s going on? And connect in that way verbally and then hopefully hold hands or kiss or hug, whatever it might be. Just to look at hugging, how it changes after kids come. Like we barely hugged, do we? And when we hug, it’s like this really fast, you know? Oh, hi honey. Because the kids between us before we know it.
Sharon: That’s funny, every time my husband I hug, we actually hug a lot because it’s just, we are more like good. We’re very publicly affectionate in front of our kids and that, you know, sometimes they get like gross out and they do that. Right. You know, but every time my husband and I start to hug our littlest one, she’s four. She like runs in to get on the action.
Kaite: Yeah. They like the other one would be a part of it or they want to like totally. But we often, I like just looking at how we hugged differently as a good sign of like we don’t stop and be mindful in the moment of like, let’s really connect. I mean, when’s the last time you really had like the belly to belly hug? You seem like you’re doing it. Many of us are not. We’re not. We do the sort of side hug or the, you know, kiss on the cheek. Hi honey, the person’s not even there to us, really.
So it’s very easy for us to drop that first. And I see that often. And when we’re tired and we feel very vulnerable and we feel like insecure, then you don’t want your partner to see you in those those times, do you? But the reality is you partnered together to go through these things. And so being able to sit with each other and go like, yeah, this is way different than that dream we had three years ago. You know? And being able to laugh through that and, and push forward is how you reconnect in many ways.
Sharon: Yeah. And I, I dunno, I saw this a lot in practice and, um, and sometimes, you know, I don’t always know how to handle it to be quite honest because, um, you know, I was a pediatrician. It’s not really always your role to discuss marital, um, connection between a couple. Right. And, um, but I found it came up a lot in sleep situations. It came up a lot in, um, just how parents deal with different behavior struggles that their kids are having. And now I actually, I, I work in a very different capacity and so with families and it’s actually a much more intimate relationship. And so I feel more comfortable to say, Hey, let’s look at how this is showing up in your marriage. Right.
But I remember coming out of patients rooms thinking to myself like, the way that just, even their sleeping arrangement is basically showing this father that the child has become the priority in this mom’s world. And like, you know, and it’s not even from a place of judgment, it’s from a place of caring, right. To say like, is that what you want to be telling him, right? That he should be sleeping on the couch because your child’s sleeping in your bed, right? Like, is that what you imagined for yourself? Right. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and it’s hard. It is hard, I think for a lot of moms to know where is there like, where should their loyalty lie? They feel like they need to make a choice. They feel, you know? It’s a big challenge. Right?
Katie: And it’s important that our kids see us create that boundary of the relationship really does matter because they’ll be that point where the power struggle, they’ll figure that out and they’ll use it to their advantage. And as we think it’s, well, you know, oh, they’re too young and it’s just helping them sleep and I’ll just hold them until they fall. But yeah, it does create even more of a divide. Well, honey, I was sitting on the couch waiting for you. I thought we were going to have some time tonight.
And it’s, um, I remember listening to an interview with pink, I think she was on the Ellen show and she was saying, you know, I get so frustrated at my husband, like I’ll be like ready to have some time with him and he’s falling asleep, getting our daughter to sleep. And I’m like, come on, you know, like, but that is a norm in almost all the kids, this was going to be our night.
So there’s accidents and then there’s, I’m choosing for this to be a divide because of whatever need it fulfills our needs. It fulfills a child’s needs, whatever. But it, I imagine as a pediatrician, I think pediatricians and hairstylist probably in those first five years of a child’s life, hear from the mom in such a way and maybe even the dad about what’s going on, you know? And, and it is, it’s a struggle to hear it and go, because we on the outside can see it and go, hey, did you notice? Like you’re doing this, but we don’t want to hear it when it’s our own, our own stuff. Right. You don’t want to hear when like don’t point out my imperfections.
Sharon: Because it feels judgmental. Right, right. Um, and I think that it, it is judgmental in a sense, like you’re judging yourself when you hear it. Right. And so there is judgment there, but it’s not always coming from where you think it’s coming from. And, and certainly, you know, my intention is never to, to come from a point of judgment from a place of judgment, but really just to say like, I think I would want somebody to point this out to me if they were noticing it.
Katie: Yeah. Yeah.
Sharon: And there’s finesse to it too, right. To like maybe help someone notice it themselves instead of having to point it out. But…
Katie: It’s like being in the dark for so long and somebody shines that flashlight on something and it takes a while for your vision to like really key in on what you’re seeing. That’s what it’s like. So if you’re like, ah, I don’t want to, you know, have that pointed out about me, give it a moment and then you’ll go, oh my gosh, wow. I’m really doing that.
Sharon: Right. And isn’t it better to notice it now? Right. And Len, it’s really is in some cases too late, right? Or, or feels too late.
Katie: I’ve worked with couples who said, you know, well, he’ll be out of school soon and he’ll go off to university or he’ll move out and then we’ll have some time to like really have time for us. And I just think,
Sharon: 18 years, 18 years.
Katie: That’s not gonna solve things. In fact, you’re going to, the car is going to be fully broken down at that point.
Sharon: Because what happens is those 18 years have changed you, right? They’ve changed you and they’ve changed, you know, your husband is now not the same person. And are those two people still compatible? Right. And unfortunately, you know, some couples find they’re not. Right. Yeah. And that’s, I think the last place that most couples want to end up when they have a two or three year olds at home. They’re not thinking that, oh, when this kid goes to college, we’re not going to be compatible. Right. But they also don’t think about all the work that has to happen to get to that point where they’re still compatible.
Katie: Yeah. Yeah. I love to use the analogy of like when you plant a seed in the soil, you water it, you put in front of the sun and sort of the why do we do that? We know it’s going to grow, but it takes a while before we even see that plant come out of the soil. But we still take care of it. Why do we not take care of our relationship with that same trust that it will grow and be healthy when we actually do things to nurture it. But we tend to not like, we tend to just go, I don’t need to do anything to it. I don’t really need to, like we don’t really need to connect. We’re fine. Right.
And then we’re upset when it’s not growing. We’re upset when we’re stuck. We don’t understand. Um, so that analogy of the plant is something I think we all need to think back to it and go where, what stage is my, our, our, our relationship plant. And what does it need? Does it need that extra love right now and connection, does it need, um, that sunlight, what does it need?
Sharon: Yeah, I mean it’s really, I think this topic is really important. Um, and I’m, I really am hoping that some people listening will at least this will spark something inside them to think about the way things are and what maybe they could be doing differently. Um, because it is something, the other thing I find really interesting is that, you know, growing up and being a teenager and a young adult and adolescent, like living with your girlfriends and you know, you talk about everything, right? But I find that most women my age do not talk about their relationship. Right. Because most of your friends really, I mean, most of my friends are friends that my husband and I made together as a couple. Right? And so even if I go to a girls night or do things individually, right? We’re not discussing the real, like nitty gritty of what’s happening in our relationship because it almost feels like a violation of your spouse’s trust. Right. In a way kind of is. Right. Meanwhile I went to a girls weekend with my college girlfriends and like everybody’s letting everything out on the table because they’re used to doing that with each other.
Maybe in years, like we shared every single detail of our lives cause we were living together. Right. And so I think a lot of women that’s missing in their life is that sort of even somewhat somewhere to say, hey, like I am not sure if this is like what’s happening here so that someone can pointed out to you and say, well maybe you need to be paying more attention here. Or you know, maybe you should go talk to someone or whatever it is. Right.
And we’re missing that important support piece that we had maybe when we were younger, but we don’t always have in our adult lives.
Katie: That’s a great point because I think very often when we have friends we trust and we can open up to that level. We listen to them a lot better. Yeah. You know? And so having that is important.
Sharon: Yeah. And it’s not even that I don’t trust my friends. I do. Right. Like it’s just not something that we’ve ever talked about. Right. And like, I mean, I’m just using this as an example, but, but it’s true and it just really came to light for me when I did have that weekend a couple of months ago where we went out, you know, when I spent a night with my girlfriends from college and the conversation was so different. You know, like everybody’s like talking about things in, in a very different real way, you know, that I find is missing in my life here. You know, where I am in my adult life, in my neighborhood because I think that people aren’t sharing in that at that level.
Katie: Yeah. Yeah.
Sharon: And it’s sad in some ways because I think that, I don’t know as a friend, like I would be happy to support a friend through those times. Right. And I think it would be helpful, but it’s also in some ways I feel like it’s not my place to even offer that. Right. Cause being presented to me as a, as an issue. Right.
Katie: Yeah. And if we would be willing to talk about it more or, you know, man, we keep getting into these arguments about whatever, then your friends can normalize what you’re going through and go, oh yeah, we get into those fights as well. Or you know, like most of the time we just need to hear we’re not alone. And I, I even was working with a couple of today and the husband’s sorta came back in and he was like, we’re doing okay. Right.
And I said, everything you guys have said is quite normal for where you are in your stage as a couple and your family. And he’s like, okay, good. Some days we just need to hear like we’re normal. Other people argue about the same things or whatever it might be. Um, just that validation, I feel like we do that even more. Social media makes, you know, motherhood and relationships look a certain way and to have someone else go, no, I mean, even as a couples therapist, I’m very honest with the couples, I go, oh, my husband and I argue about things like that too because they need to hear that. It doesn’t matter what skill set you have, like that’s just normal to have arguments about things.
Sharon: Yeah. And I also think, you know, we argue with the people that we feel the most comfortable and most close with, right. If I, you know, I sometimes will tell my kids or, or, or my husband, like I would never even bring this up to you to start an argument if I didn’t care about you. Exactly. Exactly. I didn’t care about you. We wouldn’t be having this conversation and I would just ignore. Right. And move on. But you know, and I try to teach my kids that too, that they argue with one another sometimes because they care about each other. They don’t recognize that now, but on some level, that is why some of their arguments even come about. Right.
Katie: Yeah. Completely.
Sharon: And as they get older, it’s more, it becomes actually more of the reason. Right. Um, because there’s more maturity there and you start to feel differently about things and, right. And it’s sort of like if I have a fight with my sister, you know, it’s because maybe if it was, you know, a friend treated me the way she treated me, I would never even say anything, you know, but I care enough about our relationship to make sure it doesn’t happen again or to make sure that we’re getting through this instead of having it become part of a wall between us. Right. And I think it’s the same thing between a married couple. And so it would be, I actually think that a relationship without any arguments is probably not the healthiest relationship.
Katie: I agree.
Sharon: You’re not talking right. You’re two different people after. All right. You’re going to have disagreements.
Katie: Yeah, I’ve actually told people, um, so I have a, a workshop I do in person here in Munich called the Art of Arguing. And I have told at least three out of the times I’ve done the workshop, you need to be arguing more. Like part of the problem is you’re blowing up because you’re not addressing the issues more in the moment and you’re letting them build up and then you’re exploding. And your partner has no clue where all of the emotions coming from because you weren’t having the.
In those moments, it’s more disagreements, little disagreements, little disagreements that, you know, if you’re not comfortable arguing, then have disagreements so that it doesn’t become the big, huge, you know, blow up. That can really impact a relationship in negative ways. Um, but my, my biggest tips on how to kid proof your marriage because I think it’s good that we know like, okay, we recognize that there’s warning signs, we recognize there are issues, but then what do we do, um, is to show priority to your marriage, to your relationship.
And that, you know, people always say date nights, which I completely support. Um, but I also want people to recognize they may not be able to get out of the house, but that doesn’t mean a special occurrence can’t happen. It can be, you know, like, we’ll have a special dessert together. Or we’re going to play a game or we’re going to, whatever it might be. Um, if we feel comfortable walk around the block with the baby phone or call a babysitter for a shorter amount of time, or neighbor to come and just sit in our home, let us go for a walk, please. Like use our resources so that we have some time for connecting. Um, another tip I love to give is that like 20 questions, like get to know each other again, things have changed, especially after like the first three to five years. Things have changed.
Sharon: Funny that you say that because lately, um, my husband has like an, you know, a credit card that I pay online and every time I go to log in to this one, I don’t know, it’s like the most secure thing I’ve ever had because every time I have to answer these questions and there’s like a list of 20, oh my gosh. I mean I only have to answer one each time, but the questions that I, I did not know the answers to. I’ll call him up and I’ll be like, uh, what’s the place in the world that you really want to visit one day? You know, my questions just into our account and I was like, I feel so I’m getting to know you better, just exactly this simple as logging into your bank account and asks the security question, who’s your favorite superhero? And like, I watch all those superheroes movies. Yeah, yeah. You know, I mean I think they’re fine, but he loves them. And I was like, okay, like let’s do it. You know, I can do that. But like I never knew his favorite superheros, Spiderman, you know, and now you do and you can be like, yeah.
Katie: So I think those questions like first date questions again and just see what’s changed I think is great. Um, and then my third tip is increased skin contact, holding hands, playing footsie under the table, hand on the shoulder, you know, caressing their hair, whatever it might be. It doesn’t have to be sexual touch. We always think, you know, I’m so touched out, the kids are hugging me all day long. I don’t want to be touched again, but simple touch like that doesn’t feel like that has to end a certain way that we may not be ready or comfortable with helps us with, you know, we know we get the oxytocin, we know we have that trust, that feeling of connection.
And it shows the other person they matter too because you took a moment to say, I see you as well. So increase that physical touch. It can be a kiss when you leave, kiss when you arrive. Hug belly to belly or six, you know, six seconds, whatever you want to do like, but really saying, okay, I’m going to show you that you matter in this moment through physical touch.
Sharon: I love it. Thank you. I mean I this honestly, I know it’s been kind of like quick, but I think this was a really, really awesome interview.
Katie: Thank you, I enjoyed it.
Sharon: I really enjoyed it too. And um, I know that there are definitely other topics you and I can explore on this podcast together. So we will do that and keep you guys all posted. Um, in the meantime, if you’d like to reach out to Katie..
Katie: Yes, you can find me online positive-connections.com and I’ll make sure that Sharon has the links as well to everything. Um, I have a course called How to kid proof your marriage, but if you kind of want to test me out and see the other resources I have, I have some things on my positive-connections.com website for you too!
Sharon: Awesome. Thank you so much, Katie. This was really fun.
Thanks for listening to the Raiseology podcast. Head over to www.Raiseology.com where you’ll find plenty of, you’ve got this resources for parents and any links or tools mentioned in today’s show. Be sure to hit subscribe on your podcatcher so that you can listen to the next episode the minute it’s out, until next time, have an empowered week.
Meet Your Mentor
Sharon is a general pediatrician, loving wife and mother to 4 daughters.
After a decade of practicing general pediatrics and working with families, she realized there often wasn’t enough time while tending to children’s medical needs to help parents in the way that would be most helpful in shaping their children’s futures.
The Raiseology Program was developed to teach parents how to raise their children with the love and authority necessary to promote resilience and responsibility.
Sharon’s experience with hundreds of families as well as her own help her meet you where you are on your parenting journey to help you make it what you want it to be.
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