Guest Post: Maintaining Marriage with Andrea from Hand and the Heart1/15/2014
It's kind of a running joke that people without children literally have NO IDEA what it's like to be a parent. Sure, there is the amazing, magical part about loving another human more than you ever thought possible. But there's also the part where you both flop on the couch after getting your baby to bed and have no energy to do anything but look at one another and try to remember which of you actually fed the dog that night. Like it or not, having a baby will change your marriage in drastic ways.
I can only speak for the infant years, but they are intense. But these years don't last forever, and sacrifices on everyone's part will (and should) be made. Your life will not be the same as it was before, no matter how hard your nine month pregnant self preaches about how baby joins the family. You will be putting the needs of your small baby first, at least for a while. You will make selfless sacrifice time and time again to ensure your child has what they need. However, this doesn't mean your entire world should revolve around the sweet, mushy little person who has taken your life by storm. Motherhood changes a woman entirely, but you are still a wife, and still a "you."
The most important gift you can give your child is a healthy and loving relationship with your spouse. Hands down. I like to call it, "baby-proofing" your marriage. Here are a few tidbits of advice we have picked up over the past 16 months.
1. Spend quality time together. Sitting on the couch side by side doesn't count. Go connect with your spouse, away from your baby. My husband and I still giggle like junior high boys when we're together. We are blessed to have a family nearby to watch our son, so that we can pop out for an hour to grab lunch together, go out after bedtime, or sneak away for a coffee. We play cards together, workout, watch documentaries, and read the same books. These "dates" make me feel connected to my husband and remind me of the kind of wife and person I enjoy being outside of being a "mom."
2. On that note, also give one another free time. I'm one of those weird introvert people who loves to be alone, and sometimes I feel really touched out. My husband isn't great at remembering I need my own time, so I tell him and he is happy to oblige. I also am respectful of his time...he works hard all day long and comes home and helps with our son and household chores and doesn't get a lot of time for his own hobbies and activities. It's good to be selfless with one another and always give.
3. Remember that your husband is not a babysitter. He is a father raising a son or daughter. Don't boss him, tell him what he's doing wrong, or micromanage his actions.
4. I'm a proponent of a quality routine and healthy sleep habits. Have an early bedtime for your babe(s) so you can have time each night to have home dates or alone time.
5. Don't compare yourself to other families and marriages. Sometimes all we see is the highlight reel of others lives. Everyone has struggles, and what you and your husband have is special and unique to you.
These moments in life with young children are so fleeting. They are intense, and exhausting, but I think you can still have a fun and loving marriage. We don't get to go out as much, do spontaneous things, or travel as far...but we sure do love each other so much more.