And So It Begins…
It all starts when you announce you are pregnant… you start getting the looks of excitement but also concern from family and friends. They’ve been there and know that balancing marriage and motherhood is hard.
They tell you how you and your husband should spend as much time together as possible and do a babymoon because it will be a long time before you take a trip together again. They emphasize how you should make dating a priority even after the baby comes, even if it is just an in-home date. Also, they suggest date ideas that are cheap and easy and even offer to babysit (at least the family and close friends do!).
Then baby arrives and your life and relationship change and slowly you start to understand why everyone had so much to say about making time for each other.
Because it’s damn hard to focus on your marriage when you are in the throes of new parenthood. It does not matter how many classes you took or books you read before the baby was born they are a living creature and do not fit into a textbook example and nothing goes to plan. Your energy and focus naturally go to helping them with their basic needs 24 hours a day.
It starts as a slow creep but then snowballs. All of sudden most of the conversations you and your husband have with one another revolve around the baby or other domestic topics. Even if you have a date night outside of the home it is hard not to talk about these things because there is probably a list of topics related to baby and home you have not had the time or energy to discuss face to face at length.
The Good News
You eventually come up for air, usually when the baby gets on a schedule. You find that most of the advice you received from your friends and family was what they wished they had done differently related to balancing marriage and motherhood.
I have definitely been guilty of this since the day our daughter was born. We genuinely enjoy being with R and giving her the best of us at all times. So when she does go to sleep at night we end up in our own world, unwinding individually, since we usually have no energy left for others. Hubby had a long day at work and I had a long day being a mom.
As we got closer to the birth of baby #2, I realized I needed to start to work on balancing marriage and motherhood before things got more hectic. We set goals and worked to achieve them. This was a way to keep us both accountable to each other and work together all at the same time.
The goals were simple and actionable. And all related to communication and making it a priority everyday of the week, not just wait for the weekends when things were less busy. Because we all know that the reality is that weekends tend to be even busier than weekdays with social, family, and house commitments. And forget about it if your children have extracurricular activities.
How It Went
We did a good job for a little while and could definitely see a change in how our relationship was on a daily basis. We felt more connected, despite my growing baby bump. Communication was better and we had less pointless arguments (you know the ones, about socks or dishes, just stupid shit). Things were looking up.
And then Baby #2 arrived.
Now I love my babies. Both of them. And I feel incredibly blessed to have healthy children that have an amazing father. And that I get to call their father my hubby and partner.
But that doesn’t mean that balancing marriage and motherhood are any easier.
Having the second child just kind of restarted the clock on the disconnected period after a baby is born. And being that it was the second child, it just magnified it.
We still loved each other more than anyone else but we are just too damn tired each day to think straight. Or make an effort regularly. And forget about going out on a date. The guilt that comes along with trying to leave two children behind, even if just for a couple of hours is heavy you guys.
Despite our best efforts and planning, we were back to the drawing board of where to start to find the balance we needed in our marriage as parents.
Where are we now
Baby boy is now 9 months old. We are getting closer to being parents of two for a year and in some ways, we are coming out from the haze that goes with having a new baby. We didn’t get the good sleeper like we did with his sister but we are working hard to help him learn to sleep consistently because it helps him be happier (and his parents too!).
I have definitely not found the perfect solution for balancing marriage and motherhood but I would say we have worked hard to keep it a focus. And with all of the distractions throughout the day we do what we can to be us. The us we once knew is different but that doesn’t mean it’s not still us. We have changed and grownup individually and as a couple. And my thought is that as long as we are growing as a couple our marriage has taken some precedence over parenthood.
I wish I could present some amazing tip or solution but I don’t really think there is one. All I can say is just keep trying to be partners every moment you can. And when you can get away to spend time with just your spouse do it. Don’t feel guilty.
As parents, we could feel guilty any minute of any day, for any reason. There is always something we could be doing for our children. But we need to make sure we are nurturing our marriage as well. Because the reality is that when our kids grow up, which I hear is in the blink of an eye, the two of you will be alone in a house together. And I don’t know about you but I’d rather have my best friend there than a stranger I’ve roomed with for years.
So My Challenge Is This
Spend the next month trying to improve your balance of marriage and motherhood.
Figure out where you are struggling to connect and ask your partner what you can do to help fix this.
Then focus all month on this one thing. ALL MONTH!
As you work to improve this one area, you will slowly see bigger changes happening in your marriage.
You love each other and became parents because you love each other. It’s so easy to lose sight of that but that doesn’t mean you love each other any less. Anything worth having is worth working for and towards.
Keep working at it. And when you found you have lost sight of the goal start again.
This is how I have felt since becoming a parent while having a marriage. I lose focus on the marriage and let the parenting take control. Then Hubby and I have a heart to heart to refocus and slowly we become us again. It’s hard to sustain either way but as long as you take a step forward here and there it will be okay in the end.
Parenting is hard, tiring, and thankless work. But important work.
Marriage is a gift and a good marriage will fulfill you daily. Don’t forget to work on this daily. (I know I do!)