Welcoming Baby, Keeping Us
By Yessenia Anderson
You hear it all the time, a baby will change everything. So I am not going to repeat the clichés, although they can be annoyingly true, about how an infant can impact a marriage. Instead I am going to share the raw emotions, anecdotes and optimistic suggestions on how to not only make it work but if I dare say … kick ass, marriage’s ass.
We Got Lost It in the Haze
I was a breastfeeding machine and consumed with all things latching, pumping and clock watching. My husband, Brandon, was on the sidelines trying to cheer me on, figuring out how to be a dad and how to be present during a time period that really lent itself mostly to a mothers care. He was on the sidelines loving my new curves but careful not to complain about more one-on-one time thinking this was selfish and that I would find it to be asking a lot (to the contrary). We both sought out the wrong outlets and didn’t look to each other. We were in a haze of figuring it all out while carrying out our perfect personas – the devoted mother and the dedicated father.
But where were WE? The social butterfly…the flirtatious lover… the laughtastic relationship that once gave me belly aches.
Breaking Down to Build New
We both knew we weren’t the same but neither knew what to do about it and if there was anything to do. Was this just parenthood? Do we just wait until Alex and his sibling we’d eventually, probably have, are eighteen and out of the house to resume this love story? For us, it took a moment of darkness to clear the air and to make room once again for a promising matrimony. In a whirlwind argument that lasted days we ended up clearing our closets. We let it all out, cobwebs of failures, lies and insecurities. We popped the ‘perfect bubbles’ that we thought we had to uphold for everyone and each other. It was HARD, to hear the honest truth, to cry and hurt but a necessary evil. That day, we recommitted to each other. Aside from a home mortgage and a new child we knew – we undeniably belonged together and more importantly we wanted to be together. This didn’t mean our ghosts would never haunt us again or that all wounds would heal perfectly but it meant that we were committed to facing it all head on, no more bullshit, only growth.
Examining Your Relationship
So my advice here comes with a huge warning label. Like clothing, marriage advice shouldn’t ever come in one size fits all form. My hope is you can take these tidbits, tweak and repurpose for your own use.
- Start with honesty. Think about it. You’re spending the rest of your LIFETIME, God willing, with this person, if you can’t be honest with them then you’re signing up for playing a role, not leading a life. But make sure that you’re creating an environment where both of you feel safe to do so. Having a baby adds another layer to your relationship that makes things both beautiful and that much more complicated but honesty has to be able to penetrate all layers, current and future.
- Go on dates. Not only in the conventional sense. Whenever possible, take a day, afternoon or night for your selves and commit to focusing on each other during that time. But if this is not easily done or not as frequent as one would like then take advantage of the small opportunities like lying in bed at night, cooking while the kids play, long drives, etc. Put the phone down and take time to talk, reconnect, flirt, cuddle etc. Go back to the basics however silly they were. Tickle each other, take stupid selfies, and revisit old ‘traditions’ so to speak.
- Spend time apart. Making time for each other is important but part of a healthy relationship is also making time for you. Being a new parent can be all consuming so it is important not to lose yourself. Making time for you, especially if it’s to unwind after clocking in mommy hours can be very beneficial. It’s hard to be ‘on the clock’ 24/7 so destressing can lead to less tension in the household. Plus, continuing to work on the relationship between you and yourself is another key element to a long lasting healthy marriage.
- Spend time with other friends and or couples. Besides the fact that friends feed the soul, something about seeing your spouse in a setting with other people can be invigorating. Whether it’s exchanging parenting fail stories, catching up, joking around and or discussing important issues it all can lend a platform to stand back and SEE that person again outside of burp cloths and late night bottle warm ups. You might even catch each other starring, or passing by and kissing a cheek, or pinching one 😉
Brandon and I are now expecting our second baby and we are over the moon. So will these rules of the road get us through our next journey? Perhaps…along with many more that we may have not discovered just yet. But the moral of the story here is we realized what works and that is real, honest, raw communication. Don’t be afraid to completely collapse because building your way up again may just be that much better the second time around.
Oh and COFFEE, ALWAYS HAVE COFFEE. That is all.