Keeping Your Marriage Alive

Having kids changes things. It changes everything. But the one aspect of your life it changes the most is your marriage. The minute you bring that little bundle of joy home it’s longer the two of you, but the three (and maybe even eventually four or five or six!). It’s no longer reckless responsibilities, sleeping in, hangovers that leave you useless on couch all day, leaving the house on a whim and overall your sense of freedom.

You are now attached to another human being for the rest of your life. You are responsible for their well-being, their upbringing and their overall morals and values and their overall safety and security. You are their provider, their protector, their teacher, their guide and their unconditional love. You are their parent and no one can ever take that away from you.

The beginning months of parenting take a took a toll on my marriage quicker than I would have ever expected. We fought about the unknown, the fears, the insecurities, what we each felt was right or wrong and all of the changes we didn’t fully know how to handle. We were sleep deprived, scared, stressed out, frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed. But we were also incredibly blessed, crazy in love, excited, grateful and overjoyed.

The good definitely outweighed the bad but it didn’t take away from what the bad did to us. We neglected our marriage and each other. We put our relationship on hold. We lost some of the love. We knew we needed to get out, it was just a matter of when. As much as it made us nervous (and me, super anxious!) to leave our little angel, we knew it was time. We ended up having a night out for our anniversary in August. Emma was a little over three months old. It was then we reconnected. We talked, we laughed and we even got ga-ga over pictures of our peanut. But most importantly, we found our love again, our spark. We found the reason we fell in love because it seemed to have gotten a little lost as we transitioned into parents.

I recommend that every couple who are parents go on a date night. And no, not a night to celebrate a friend’s birthday or a work event, but an actual date just the two of you. This is time to get away from the kids, the technology, the laundry, the dishes and everything that keeps you from noticing and spending time with one another. A night to celebrate just the two of you and really express how much you appreciate one another.

My husband and I recently had an overdue date night. With a few other big changes happening in our lives, we needed to get out. We needed to reconnect. And we did. It was amazing! I felt like it was one of our first dates all over again as we held hands and kissed in public.

The strength of your family lies in the foundation of your marriage. The love you have for one another will pour into the way your children view relationships. Life is short. You never know when it one of you will no longer be here. Cherish your love and one another. Never stop trying and never give up. Remember the day you two said “I do” and remember to take the time for just the two of you.

Why ‘This is 40’ Terrified Me

The first time I saw ‘This is 40,’ I watched it by myself. My husband didn’t want to see it and when a free night alone presented itself, I took the chance. At first, I couldn’t stop laughing. However, as the movie continued I found myself becoming increasingly depressed. It was so depressing that by the end it started to terrify me.

Is this what forty looks like? Was this going to be me? My life?

I swear some of the fights in the movie were identical to ones my husband and I have had, words and all! I made my husband watch the movie. He had a similar reaction saying, “it was awful”. We eventually watched it together and while the second time around seemed a little more funny, it didn’t change the outcome. I was still utterly depressed when it ended.

Forty seems so far away except it’s not. I’m not getting any younger. Maybe I will be pregnant at forty?  Could I even handle that? Could my husband? Could our marriage?

The movie is realistic. The couple isn’t perfect. They have their own parent issues as well as issues as parents themselves, growing children each at different stages, financial issues/concerns, marriage challenges and individual almost midlife crises taking place. I think it’s the reality of the movie that’s so scary to me. It depicts real life…

So, how do you find the time for your kids, your husband and yourself? How do you keep the spark alive in your marriage? How do you deal with the challenges growing children? How do find ‘me’ time so that you don’t completely lose it?

I wish there was a magic answer to all of these questions, or a manual, but there aren’t.

Marriage and raising kids takes work. A lot of work. They are relationships you have to continue to nurture. And while a movie may shed some insight into a future life, it doesn’t mean that’s where your life is headed.

I’m happy I saw the movie. I’m happy my husband saw it. And I’m happy that we both agreed while there were some funny moments in the movie, it’s not us and won’t be us. The unknown future can be a scary reality, but trusting in your life’s plan and focusing on positivity can help keep you on track. Every relationship is different and while common grounds exist, no two ones are the same.

I don’t know if I’m looking forward to turning forty but I do know I’m not as terrified about it.

Being a Mom…I Get It.

I love being a mom, I really, really do. I love watching my daughter grow and I simply adore her…but being a mom is so different than not being one. I didn’t really begin to comprehend it until I had my daughter. In that moment, everything changed forever.

When I was single, I didn’t really ‘relate’ to my friends with kids. When I got married, I didn’t ‘understand’ my friends with kids. It was almost like they lived in a different world. A world of play dates, babbles, baby voices, bath time, birthday parties, Disney, Dora the Explorer, kid friendly trips and so many things I couldn’t wrap my brain around. Maybe it was because I wasn’t ready for kids, or maybe it was because I didn’t have them. We’d catch up (because sometimes we wouldn’t talk for a while), but our conversations would be the craziness in my life (relationships, break ups, new relationships, going out, going on vacation, etc.) vs. the craziness in theirs (having kids, taking care of kids, lack of sleep, more kid stuff). I love them all dearly, always will, but I didn’t understand it.

Well, now I get it. I get how your life completely becomes about your children, and not because there’s nothing else for you to discuss, but because it’s what your lives start to revolve around. People ask about your kids, you share stories, you talk about what they’re doing, how they’re growing, you share pictures, videos and you can’t stop smiling. You’re proud, thankful, grateful, over the moon and madly in love but sometimes you’re also overly tired, stressed out, clueless, paranoid, out of patience and just plain frustrated.

To all my single friends, or even my married friends without kids, I love you, I really, really do. But I don’t think you understand my life now. I don’t think you get it. Maybe you think you do, but honestly, I don’t think you can. I don’t think you can because kids change everything. Kids change your views on the world, how you see yourself, your husband and others with children. You ‘get’ your friends with kids, in fact, you rely on them so much you’d be lost without them. Again, this isn’t to offend any of my friends sans kids, it’s just that I was once there, I was once you and it wasn’t until I wasn’t you that I really saw, understood and felt what all my friends with kids were talking about. I still had great relationships with my friends with kids when I didn’t have them, but now I feel like I have even greater ones.

There are those that will never have kids. Whether it’s by choice or not by choice. And we will still be friends with those individuals because friendships aren’t based on your family status (married, single, married with kids or married without). But those friendships might change, and not intentionally but simply because of where you are in your lives.

Some days I miss my life without Emma. I miss my selfish time, not having someone rely on me 24/7, the ability to sleep in and essentially ‘have a life’. But then I think about her sweet little face and know that she is my life, she’s the light of my life. She’s the second best thing that’s ever happened to me (husband is first!) and I thank God for her every day. Right now, I am a mom, I will always be a mom, and finally, I get it.

Yes, I’m a Working Mom…We All Are.

I’ve read a lot of articles/blogs/posts/comments regarding ‘working moms’ vs. ‘stay-at-home moms’. There seems to be this distinction and disconnect of one vs. the other. I understand the separation because there is a difference between going to a place of work and working at home, but there no difference in working. You are working mother no matter what you choose to do.

I work in an office, but I no longer do this full time. I miss my daughter like crazy on those days and can’t wait to pick her up. My working days start at 5AM and don’t end until I go to bed (9-10PM, if I’m lucky!). I wake up and get ready for work, pack up the car and then get her strapped in the car seat to go. I drop her off, work nine hours (through my lunch) then pick her up. I come home and spend a short amount of quality time before her nighttime routine begins. After she’s in bed and finally asleep (because kids don’t always fall asleep immediately), I pick up around the house, eat dinner (if I’m still even hungry), make her bottles for the following day, sit on the couch for maybe thirty minutes with my husband and then go to bed.

I imagine that most stay-at-home moms experience this type of schedule (minus going to an office to work) on a daily basis. They do not have the luxury to get an eight hour break. Yes, I called it a luxury. Workforce moms (as I will call us) have adult interaction and fulfill a purpose in life whether it be a job you love or a job that simply pays the bills. However, the other side is that someone else is taking care of your child, not you. Someone else is feeding, holding and spending time with your baby/babies. If you are lucky enough, those people are family members/friends/acquaintances you trust. If you are not so fortunate, those people are strangers. While it is their full time job and they are completely qualified to do so, they are not people that know and love your child the way you, your family or your friends do. It is not a luxury. It’s something you need to do (maybe because of finances) or something you choose to do (simply because you need that break). Whatever the reason, it’s never easy.

Stay-at-home moms fulfill a purpose in life by getting all day with their child/children, but their pay is much different. They are rewarded with hugs, I love you’s and the joy of watching their child/children grow in the way they want, on their schedule and with their constant supervision. But there are also days of no rewards, complete chaos, no appreciation or love, constant screaming and whining, the inability to shower, eat, or please and sometimes catch a breath, let alone a break. Nap times are when moms go into overdrive to do laundry, clean the house, make dinner and maybe brush their teeth…maybe. The days seem endless and a break hopefully comes when your husband gets home, but even that break is short lived. At some point in the day you want to cry (or do) as well as wanting an alcoholic beverage of some sort (maybe more than one!) and you begin to wonder if you can even do this anymore (at least when I was home for three months I did!). For those moms that are single parents, God bless you. I can’t even imagine the stress of being a stay-at-home single mother or a working single mother.

Stay-at-home moms deal with stress the way workforce moms do, the stress of raising a child/children and we are all in this together. One is not better than the other. I personally think staying at home full time is a lot more difficult from my experience of having my three months of maternity leave, but that is just me. I still believe both offer rewarding experiences and can still give us the chance to be the best mothers we can be. So for anyone working part time, full time, in an office, at home, just know that you are an amazing working mom! You BIRTHED A CHILD, maybe even more than one, and no one can ever take your place. I feel blessed to be a mom and I hope those of you that are moms do too.

Love is a Battlefield.

Ahh, love. It’s truly my favorite thing to write about. I’m in love with love and everything it encompasses. From believing in fairytale endings and living happily ever after to the cheesy and over the top romantic gestures and my own personal journey to finding the love of my life.

Never settle. It’s something I frequently say and really believe in. There are a lot of things in life you shouldn’t settle for but compromising yourself, your morals or your individuality for any relationship in my opinion is never worth sacrificing. Find the person that loves you for you, that never gives up even when it’s tough (and I mean really tough), the person who looks at you and you can just feel how in love they are with you and isn’t afraid to show it (even in front of his/her friends), someone you have things in common with, not just a mutual physical attraction because that fades quickly, and someone you genuinely can see yourself spending the rest of your life with. If you’re lucky enough to have found the love of your life, hopefully you have married them! If not, don’t give up…and of course, don’t settle.

Marriage isn’t easy and whoever said or says that it is, is lying. Marriage isn’t easy because it takes work, and it takes work from two people who have things in common, maybe even a lot of things, but are two completely separate individuals with separate thoughts, feelings and ideas. The first year of marriage was the toughest for me (so far). My husband and I didn’t live together prior to getting married so adjusting to being under one roof was definitely a challenge. I’ll be brutally honest in saying there were many times I left the house crying or stayed in the house and locked myself in a room to cry. But things did get easier with time. I think just like all things in life, the more time and effort you give something, the better (hopefully) it becomes. We finally got in sync, learning each others bad habits and quirks, and accepted them. Acceptance is a HUGE part of marriage because if you think you’re going to change your spouse, you are in for a rude awakening. Now I don’t get upset about him leaving a trail of his clothes around the house and he doesn’t get upset with me about how I load the dishwasher! We have a mutual respect for one another and try to work more as a team instead of individuals. Once all the adjusting subsides, you have time to really focus on the love…and that’s the best part. You have this person for the rest of your life (God willing). Someone to wake up to every morning and go to bed with every night. You have a best friend that loves you unconditionally and accepts all of your flaws. It’s pretty incredible.

So now you’re married and you finally get into a groove but then you decide to throw a child into the mix and BOOM, complete chaos. I thought marriage was a lot of work….WOW, try raising a child together! Neither one of you know what the heck you’re doing, despite how many babies you’ve been around, because it’s different when it’s your own. Now you’re both are trying to figure it out like you’re trapped inside some giant maze while trying not to kill each other…because yes, you will at some point want to kill each other. Parenting is literally the hardest job in the world and I think anyone that has children will agree. There is nothing in the world like it. You are solely responsible for another human life as long as you live. It’s your job to raise your child/children to be the best possible version of themselves. That’s a heavy burden to bear, especially for a Type A perfectionist like myself. And when you have two individuals sharing this responsibility there are going to be some arguments, or a bunch!

Children change your marriage. I never thought it would change it so much but it does. Sure, I love my husband and he loves me but things are just different. Our lives revolve around our daughter and not in a bad way, but a way that we are her caretakers and she’s our number one priority right now. You do things differently and sometimes there is frustration with that. You argue about sharing baby responsibilities and often even place and verbalize blame and judgments. You have expectations of one another and get upset when the other isn’t meeting those. Maybe your expectations are unrealistic, which can cause even more frustration. Some days the baby/kids are fine, and you argue just to argue. You become emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted that you can’t even remember the last time you had a date night that involved actually leaving the house and the baby/kids. Your relationship inevitably takes a back seat and not by choice. Things start to feel one-sided and you find yourself placing personal attacks on one another. You let your own insecurities as a parent get the best of you. You take out the difficulty of balancing life, work, a marriage and raising children on each other. You stop acting like a team. You are on the battlefield and you are both armed.

So, what do you do? Give up? Quit? Fight until death? Leave? Well, I hope you do none of those things. Marriage is a vow…”for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad…until death parts you.” I take those vows very seriously and while I truly believe we’d never leave one another, I understand how people can get divorced after having kids. I love my husband more than anything and we are still discovering how to be parents, but there’s no one else I’d rather go through this process with than him. Sometimes when I’m really angry I put myself back to the day of our wedding. I envision different moments from that day and how I felt. I remember the love and pure joy I felt and then ask myself, do I really want to fight with him about this? You pick and choose your battles in marriage, whether you have kids or not. As a couple who has a child, we are taking this journey together and working on being more supportive than critical, more loving than unkind, and more understanding that judgmental. I can say at times it’s been amazing and others it’s been a battlefield, but in the end we learn, we grow and we get better. We get better because we want to. Love doesn’t have to always be a battlefield.