My husband and I recently celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. It’s one of the first big “milestones,” and if I’m being honest, this year was one of the most challenging. With a toddler and baby 14 months apart, plus the demands and stresses that are part of you know, life, we weren’t taking the time to really connect with each other.
The space between us hit home when I realized our kisses goodbye had become distracted. Each of us caught up in our own worlds and responsibilities. Before babies, even if our workdays were crazy, we had nights (and the weekends) for each other. And our kisses goodbye always lingered. Now, each 24-hour cycle is a juggling act that’s centered on our 2 ½ and 1 ½ year old. One sick baby means a sleepless night for all of us, and two even-more tired parents who pass out by 8pm the following night. Sometimes sick baby or not, we’re so exhausted we fall asleep putting the kids to bed. All plans of spending time together inadvertently pushed for another day.
Sure we went on date nights here and there, really whenever grandma came to town we’d make sure to get out. It was in the day-to-day, though, that we were losing our connection. After another argument about who-now-knows-what, we sat down and just hugged each other. We stayed like that for a while, talking through everything we each felt. As an actionable next step — one thing we could change right then — we committed to making sure we both were completely present in each kiss.
It seems small, almost inconsequential, but those butterflies are back in my belly every time we kiss. The miscommunication and resulting arguments started to subside. And that distance we felt was gone.
Over a child-free anniversary brunch (thanks grandma!), I soaked up the joy that it was to just sit on that sun-filled patio, eating breakfast with my husband. We reminisced about our pre-baby days, and all the free time we had. So much time for each other, and for ourselves. As the waiter placed my stack of pancakes in front of me, we mused about how the kids would love them if they were here. That’s the thing about life after kids — it’s chaos, loud, love-filled, and sometimes so consuming that you get caught up in it all. It drives you crazy one moment and in the next your heart is bursting with love. Some days drain you and leave you with not even time for yourself, let alone your partner. What we’re learning, is if we can have one thing that brings the focus back to just us then we can still keep the feeling of intimacy and closeness strong. Even on the days when we’re short on time and energy.
A momma friend recently asked if I ever missed Myles. Thinking she meant during the day, while he was at work, I said, “Yes, but, we texted throughout the day so that helped.” She meant though, the relationship we had before kids. While I sometimes miss the ease with which we could make plans for a date night or spend the morning laying in bed, I love seeing my husband as a father. Parenthood has helped our relationship grow, while also pushing and testing us. Below some other spouses turned parents share their experiences.
“Having children is the ultimate test in marriage, you either sink or swim.”
Our daughter was born in 2011, I was 24 and my husband was 29. We thought having a baby would be a breeze and as naive as it might sound, we didn’t think our lives would change that much. We intended to have my retired mother-in-law as an on-call babysitter for whenever we wanted to go out, have fun and live up the rest of our twenties. About a month after I gave birth, my MIL moved over 60 miles away and the reality set in that we wouldn’t be able to have “date nights” and go out with our friends at the drop of a dime. It was difficult — we would argue over who had the most sleep, whose turn it was to feed and change the baby at the wee hours of the night, and who in general was making the most sacrifices. Having children is the ultimate test in marriage, you either sink or swim. The birth of our daughter forced us to have more family time and focus on creating memories with her. Now that I’m 31, my husband and I both get the most fulfillment out of spending time with our daughter rather than just having nights to ourselves. -Danae, 6-year-old daughter
“It is definitely a balancing act.”
After almost 8 years of marriage, it is definitely a balancing act. Kids require a lot of attention and your spouse will often take the back burner. What’s so important is to continue dating your husband. Schedule date nights, respect each other, and keep the lines of communication open. -Trarina, 5-year-old daughter
“All of the sudden, our priorities shifted.”
The old saying ‘don’t judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes ‘ took on an entirely new meaning these past few months as my husband and I became parents for the first time. I always said that no matter what, our relationship had to be a priority — we would need to continue date nights, trips, things that would allow us to not lose sight of why we fell in love with each other in the first place. Then we actually had a tiny little human that literally relied on us entirely to survive and everything I always said to myself seemingly slipped away. All of the sudden, our priorities shifted and getting to bed as soon as our daughter falls asleep seems to supersede a glass of wine and conversation to end the evening. Waking up early to get a shower in trumps snuggling for those few extra minutes. I realize that it will be conscious, hard work to get us back in focus with each other. In my core I know it can and should be done. Our relationship needs just as much nurturing as this tiny little human we have come to love more than life and with that comes just as much work — a lesson we are still learning. – Bridget, 4-month-old daughter
See what other parents had to say here.
Ravelle Worthington is a wife, momma of three, and the founder of Mommy Brain. Follow her on Instagram here.
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Photos provided by author.