It always seems to be the case in my life – whenever things start feeling normal, like we’ve got a good routine down, it’s then that change is most inevitable. It’s sort of a running joke between David and I. Maybe we get bored easily, maybe we self-sabotage, maybe we just like to keep things interesting. Regardless of the reason why, since the day we met, we haven’t sat still.
Within a year of dating, we moved in together, adopted Juneau and we drove cross country to Albuquerque. We left after a few months and lived with my parents for a while in Upstate New York. We spent the next summer in Wilmington, North Carolina before going to Indianapolis for graduate school. We actually stayed put in Indy for two years, but while we were there, changed jobs/career fields several times. We left Indy after I abruptly lost my job (blessing in disguise) and spent the summer apart soul searching/job hunting. David started school and I accepted my current role and we moved to Charlottesville together. A few short months after that we got engaged, were married within the next six months and found out we were pregnant with Finn two months later. We welcomed Finn after nine months. David graduated and started a new job and we decided to buy a house. Before the ink was dry on the contract, we found out we were expecting baby number two and in eight short weeks we will be a family of four. Phew.
I remember feeling invigorated and inspired by this change when we were younger, but now that we are parents, change terrifies me. I like the routine we have now, but the reality of welcoming another baby into our lives is making me pause and wish time would slow down. Right now, Finn is on a pretty awesome schedule, and even on the most mundane days, David and I get a few hours of ‘us’ time every evening after Finn goes to bed. In the last few months, we’ve let the shock of being new parents subside, and have embraced our marriage even more. We’ve always agreed that our marriage comes first – because without the two of us on the same page, our family wouldn’t be able to function the way we want it to. I’ve put together a list of things that have helped us focus on one another, and will hopefully be our guiding light as we approach yet another change in our lives.
1. Be clear about your needs. It’s all about communication, plain and simple. There is never a more important time to be clear with your partner than after kids are in the picture. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to get frustrated. It’s easy to blame one another for not reading the other’s mind. What’s difficult is being open and honest with one another. Get vulnerable. If there is one person on this planet that should accept you for who you are, warts and all, it’s your partner. The best way to do this is when things are calm, when you can be in the moment and as clear as possible.
After Finn was first born I rarely let myself get away for some me time. It started to wear on me and David and I had a conversation about it. It was one of the most honest conversations we’ve ever had and, funny enough, we were both feeling the same way. Now, we make sure each of us get some me time each week.
2. Give each other grace. I’ve certainly let frustration get the best of me over the last two and a half years, and the ugliness is usually directed toward David. I’m in no way proud of this, but I appreciate that David understands that my words are usually unfounded and driven by stress. He usually forgives me within a few minutes, and may tease me about it later on to make light of it. I can’t tell you how much this eases my guilt! Like I said, when you’re married and have children together, your partner is going to see some warts – and I appreciate that David can accept all of me.
3. Get intentional. There was a long stretch after Finn was born where it felt like we were just letting life happen to us. We barely got through the days, and looking back, that time feels like such a blur. We were pretty miserable human beings during that timeframe as well. As soon as we got intentional about Finn’s schedule, and about our schedule, life got a million times better.
We’ve adopted this principal into other aspects of our relationship as well – we felt like we weren’t having meaningful conversation, so we bought this devotional. We felt like we didn’t get enough time just the two of us, so we scheduled a date night each month. We felt like we weren’t saving enough money, so we set up a pretty awesome budget, stick to it, and then tease each other for being so mature! I was getting stressed out about my commute to daycare and work in the morning, so we switched Finn’s daycare to somewhere closer to home. As soon as we started taking control of our life, and being intentional about it, we’ve been on the same page with everything – and ultimately closer as a couple.
4. Create time for each other. This piggy-backs on the whole “get intentional” tip, but deserves it’s own mention. There is nothing more important to David and I than spending time together without Finn around. We love our family dates, but there is something much simpler, and nostalgic, about eating dinner without having to cut up a toddler’s meal first. We’ve been pretty good about going on one date each month, and I always wake up feeling so grateful the next morning. We spend our evenings together watching a show or just talking about our day. We eat dinner together every night, we even grocery shop together. The thing is, I kinda like being around my husband, so we make sure to even make the most mundane tasks a joint effort!
5. Lean into each other, rather than away. I honestly don’t know what I would do without David, and I am sure to let him know that. On those days that he travels or happens to be busy doing something, I count the minutes until his return. I am so grateful for his support and partnership – but even more, I’m grateful for someone to make me laugh, for someone to commiserate with, for another perspective and to have him experience all of this with me!
What are some advice you’d give to keeping marriage a priority after kids?