The thing I feared most about having a baby was that his/her arrival would mean I would miss Dave. I loved everything about our life together just the two of us, and while I was pregnant, the knowledge that that was changing (albeit for a wonderful reason) broke my heart sometimes. Having a baby hasn’t been easy on our marriage, but I will freely admit that it has been SO GOOD for us. Our time when it was just the two of us was almost effortless…we were blessed with a wonderful first year and a half of marriage, and I am so thankful for that! But that’s not how we grow, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that we are becoming the people God is calling us to be through the fullness of our vocation: being married AND being parents. It hasn’t been easy, and still isn’t, but over the last six months, we’ve implemented a few little things that have helped us stay close and connected. I’d love to share those today!
1. We say “good morning” to each other. When your morning starts with a fussy, hungry baby, it’s all too easy to go straight from sleeping mode to parenting mode. We didn’t even realize until a few weeks into Charlie’s life that we were hardly acknowledging each other when we woke up! We made it an unofficial rule that we had to look each other in the eyes and at least say “hi” to each other when we were up for a middle-of-the-night feeding, and “good morning” when we were getting up for the day. It sounds like such a small thing, but it has been a good reminder that we’re a couple, not just partners in parenting.
2. We over-communicate and over-plan. Dave and I are both pretty Type A, and have always prioritized communication and being on the same page. Now that we have a baby, we’ve had to put that communication into overdrive…everything from the emotions we’re experiencing, to expectations we have of each other or help we need, to work obligations and schedules. Nothing is off-limits. We’ve also (finally) implemented Sunday night meetings to fill in our planners for the coming week (having one family planner hasn’t worked for us, so we now each have our own–I use a Weekly Simplified Planner and Dave uses The Catholic Planner). Along with any events coming up, we fill in chores we want to tackle, times we want to go to the gym, and our meals for the week.
3. As much as we can, we try to parent together. For the first few months of Charlie’s life, we tag-teamed most of our parenting out of survival. Dave would hold Charlie so I could take a shower and then we’d switch. I would feed Charlie in the middle of the night and then Dave would put him back to bed so I could squeeze in a little sleep. After a few months though (once we were getting a little more sleep and Charlie wasn’t nursing around the clock), we realized that the three of us were hardly ever all focused on each other at one time. This was revolutionary to us, and since then, we’ve tried really hard to parent together whenever we can, rather than switching off who’s being fully present with Charlie.
4. We say thank you A LOT. For everything. Changing diapers, washing dishes, going to work to provide for our family, soothing Charlie in the middle of the night, pouring the coffee in the morning…everything. In a season of life when we’re pouring our energy into someone who isn’t very good at expressing appreciation (ahem, Charles Kirk :)), Dave and I go out of our way to acknowledge and thank each other for everything we can see the other doing. Honestly, this is probably a good thing to do even without a baby :)
5. We’ve embraced the at-home date night. We haven’t left Charlie with a baby sitter other than our parents yet, which means our only out-of-the-house dates have been when we’re visiting them or they’re visiting us. We’re finally feeling more comfortable with the idea of leaving him with an actual baby sitter, especially after his bed time, so hopefully this will change soon, but in the meantime, we’ve fully embraced the at-home date night. After Charlie goes to bed, we pour a special drink (depending on the night, that could be Sleepytime tea or a nice bottle of wine) and snuggle up on the couch to chat or watch a movie. For us, the drinks and a “no phones” rule are the tricks to making this feel like a date. (Side note: my pre-baby self would cringe reading about how un-exciting this sounds, haha! True, it’s not anything remotely fancy, but from what people have told me, it is only a season.)
Fighting to prioritize our marriage is hard right now, but we believe that it’s worth it, because loving each other well is the best thing we can do for our family, Charlie included. I also can’t end this post without saying that praying with and for each other has become completely essential. I can’t find my strength to get through tough days of parenting from Dave, and he can’t get it from me…that has to come from the Lord, and it’s easy to forget to go to Him. We’re far from perfect at this, but we’re working on it!
I would LOVE to hear from my fellow mamas–how has your marriage changed since your baby was born? Have any big or little habits been game-changers for you? I want to soak up all your wisdom!