Before having my third son, my soon to be husband and I talked about possibly having another baby. We got carried away in the excitement and decided that if it happened, it happened. We weren’t going to plan it, force it or try. We joked about the baby and bringing the family together, the holidays, the baby with his brothers (my other two sons). We also talked about the stress it would potentially bring. That we would have to be strong and stay united. That we would need to still work on our relationship daily and never give up on each other. We discussed the things needed to do, so as to not tear us apart after the baby arrived.
Some of us have this notion that babies are a nuisance to a marriage, that kids ruin relationships. Is it true?
Going from a married couple to parenthood takes a toll on a marriage. It isn’t uncommon that after you’re little one arrives, your relationship moves to the back burner. Many people think that having a baby strengthens the bonds in their relationships when in reality, it stresses it. A baby means longer days and sleepless nights, an empty bank account, less free time and more responsibility. You realize that it’s all too easy to become consumed with taking care of this little helpless being you co created and tend to neglect one another.
While I hate to admit it, it’s usually the females that are guilty of this. I am not saying fathers don’t work as hard, or that they don’t care as much. It’s just that maternal instinct, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, the fact that we tend to push all other needs aside and become “too focused” on our babies alone, does damage to our relationships. It results in our honey’s feeling left out and unwanted. Think about it from your husbands view point, you aren’t just his wife anymore, you’re someone’s mother.
Getting swept up in taking care of our kids and replacing our one on one moments with our spouse with diaper changes, midnights feedings, tummy time and tantrums can’t be very good for a marriage, huh? The closeness and intimacy you once had with you partner may seem like it’s fading fast.
Today, we have this new style of parenting that makes us feel that we need to tend to our kids emotional needs in every way possible. If we do something for ourselves we are made to guilty, to feel that we are neglecting our children. With that ideology, it’s not hard to see how we get to this point. Being focused on our kids is not a bad thing but not enough, if at all, on our spouses is.
The Catch-22 to this whole damn thing; one of the most important things you can do for the well being of your children, is to have a healthy marriage.
So how do you do it? How do you make sure the needs of your little one are met, take care of yourself and keep the spark alive between you and your sweetheart? It may not seem like a good idea to be taking marriage advice from the girl who’s been divorced, HI! But, I look at it as experience. I know now what NOT to do in a marriage. Lesson learned. Take what you will from my advice… I now know that in order for a successful marriage, I need to work at it and not put my spouse on the back burner.
1. Find a Babysitter. Whether it’s a family member, friend or someone you hire, make sure you have someone readily willing and able to watch your little one.
2. Make “date night” a mandatory thing. Try to at least get out once a or twice a month ALONE with your spouse. Even if it’s for a couple hours.
3. When on your date, DO NOT talk about the children. You’re trying to reconnect as a couple not as parents. You don’t have only one role, you’re not just a mother/father. Remember you’re each others best friends, lovers. Flirt, talk about common interests, anything but work and kids!
4. Make time for a quickie. None of us want to admit that we use the television as a babysitter from time to time but while the kids are watching the boob-tube, steal your man for 5 minutes for some frisky fun.
5. Have a bedtime routine for your kids. Set a specific time for bedtime and stick to it. Our boys go to bed around 7:30. They get a book read to them of their choice and then 30 minutes of t.v. in their room before lights out. This gives me and my man a couple hours of alone time every night before we pass out.
6. Write little love notes. From time to time, it’s nice to be reminded that you’re still loved. You’re husband feels the same way. Leave him little love notes, send him a sexy text. Get creative.
7. Try not to nag. Nagging causes fights which just adds to the stress level. Parenting is hard. You’re both stressed and forgetful. Try not to start crap over things that aren’t important and won’t matter the next day.
8. Don’t feel pressured to be overly romantic all the time. A movie, glass of wine, and cuddles on the couch is just as nice, if not better than getting dressed up and going out for a fancy dinner.
9. Which brings me to the next piece of advice. Drink some wine! Or whisky, or beer. Pick your poison. Don’t ever underestimate that power of what one drink can do. Have a drink, relax with each other, get frisky! Sex and a some alcohol can do a lot for stress. No one’s going to chastise you for having a drink. Being a parent is rough! Plus, Betty White says it extends your life. Buy a big glass and have a toast.
10. Take some pride in your appearance. You remember when you first met each other, before the kids came into the picture? I am not one to talk because let’s face it, we all have those days where we live in sweat pants, a messy bun and our diet consists of mainly chocolate. All I’m saying is, dress up once in a while. Do you hair and makeup. It’ll make you feel better!
Make your marriage a priority. As upsetting as it is, our kids will all grow up and leave us one day. You aren’t going to be in a house filled with your kids on a daily basis, you’ll be alone with your spouse. I know finding time to be together isn’t always easy, but you need to make time. Try to remember what it was that attracted you to your partner in the beginning. The things you used to do together, your common interests. Hold on to those things, keep them alive. Instead of pushing your honey to the back burner, make sure they’re in the front. You really do need to work hard to keep the flame burning. In doing so, not only will your relationship flourish but you’ll be setting an amazing example for your children.
About The Writer: Mandi is a millennial mom of three handsome boys, who keep her on her toes! Parenting is a new adventure every day, and she is comically sharing these experiences with us. You can also check out more of Mandi’s work here: http://www.mandiilee.com