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.

Is Marriage Ever Easy?

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Is marriage ever easy? Or does it ever get easier? Is there a point where you’re just on cruise control and then…

“Everything is awesome!!!
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!
Everything is awesome when we’re living our dream!” (Tegan & Sara)

Yeah, I just quoted the LEGO Movie song. But honestly…marriage is tough. And I feel like as the decisions in your lives get tougher, so does your relationship. It gets pushed and pulled and twisted and turned and flipped upside down to a point of exhaustion. Your relationship is starts wearing thin and sometimes you even wonder, why am I married to this person? It’s terrible to say, it really is, but in a heated moment, can you tell me you’ve never thought it? You probably have. And you’ve probably discussed that thought with your friend(s) at some point or another. Maybe you confided in one friend during the course of a conversation or in a group setting among friends. And this applies to women and men….the difference is what is said. Here’s what I picture:

Woman to girlfriend: ‘Ugh, Larry is so irritating, I don’t even know why I married him, he’s literally laying on the couch doing nothing while I try to make dinner as the kids run wild…” and then the woman would spin off into layers of issues she currently has with her husband.

Man to friend: ‘Yeah, she’s being a nag lately but whatever, so did you catch the game last night?’

Maybe I’m completely off…maybe? But it seems to be when it comes to feelings, women think and feel with our hearts while men think and feel with their heads. Yes, men can make heartfelt decisions, but most of their decisions are based on problematic thinking while women’s decisions are based on our emotions. So when women rationalize with feelings, men don’t understand it, the same way we don’t understand their right vs. wrong, facts-not-feelings rationalizations.

I read ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ my first year of marriage. The book was super insightful and now I might consider reading it again. I think when you get into a routine with someone you forget how they operate until something shakes up both of your worlds and you see yourself on opposite sides of the room. A disagreement heats up and now you’re both standing there in shock thinking ‘what the heck just happened?‘. You may even stare at the person contemplating, ‘who are you‘? Because you’re both so polar opposite on your stance you start to question if this person is truly even your significant other. Who is this stranger among you? And where did they take your significant other to?

It’s easier to throw a curve ball than it is to hit one. But when it comes to matters of the heart, why aren’t we playing on the same team?

Things change when you have kids. Your marriage changes. Your lives revolve around them, and not in a bad way but in a ‘it just happens’ way. You have birthday parties and sport schedules and school projects and all the things that make having children a joy but also the exhaustion of your existence. But in the beginning of it all, in the beginning of this newest family member’s life, all if you have is each other. All you have is the two of you parenting. And it’s not easy. It’s a huge adjustment. And you expect there to just be acceptance, trust, love and perfect harmony except there’s not…there’s fear of the unknown, chaos, criticism and arguing. You begin to act like children. You fight with words. And you while you can forgive those words, you can never take them back.

Sure, there is love and those tender moments of ‘firsts’, but there are a lot of sleepless nights and delirious arguing. And then more things change. You buy a pet, get a new house, welcome another child and the cycle continues.

I don’t know if marriage is ever easy or if it ever will be easy. But I know that I love my husband and there is no one else in the entire world that I would rather be in this journey with than him. And because we’re not perfect we’re going to fight, we’re going to argue and we’re going to fight some more. But we’re not going to give up, we’re not going to walk away and we’re not going to leave our promise to one another. ‘No one ever said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it’. At the end of the day, no fight is worth it, but your love is.

Why Being a Parent is Priceless.

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As my husband and I continue our search for the ‘perfect’ home (I am starting to believe there really is no such thing unless you have an unlimited budget!), finances start adding up quickly and the next thing you know you’re arguing about a Starbucks coffee purchase.

It’s easy to get caught up in the nitpicking details of life, but sometimes you just have to sit back and recognize what’s really important in life. There are days when I think more money would make all of my problems go away, but I know that’s not true. My brother-in-law jokingly says to me, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems”. It always makes me laugh but there’s seems to be a lot of truth to that statement. Sure, all the money in the world could buy me my dream home, endless vacations, all the clothes, shoes and purses I could ever want but it can’t buy me what’s really important…those things of priceless value. There is no amount that could buy me happiness (maybe temporarily but not long term), love (the real and true kind), genuine feelings or gift of being a parent. So while I would be able to buy all the materialistic things in the world, I wouldn’t be able to buy the things that really matter.

The other day I watched my daughter zoom down the hallway in her walker bumping into walls and laughing as she would turn around to look at me only to laugh even harder seeing that I was. I couldn’t help but feel so much love and joy in my heart. In that moment, all my worries and stresses from the day/week/month just faded away. ‘This is my child…she’s mine…I made her!’, I thought to myself as a huge smile came to my face. There is no amount of money that could have bought that moment for me. And I know that’s only one of many to come.

Being a parent is not easy, but it’s so rewarding that it’s the one thing I would say I’d do no matter how difficult it was. There is nothing more priceless your child’s smile, hug, kiss, reach for you, cuddle with you, cry for you, recognition of you, hearing the words ‘I love you’ from their tiny little mouths, the way they squeeze you, hold on to you and love you. And as they get older, nothing more priceless than watching them make right and moral decisions, stand up for themselves and their values, come to you with honesty and grow up along the way to be the children/adolescents/young adults and adults you hoped they would be.

Of course you’re not going to like, approve and maybe even know if every decision they make, but the job of being a parent and the feelings that come along with it are truly priceless.

Sure, my husband and I will never have more money than we know what to do with it, but that’s okay. We will survive. We will make it work. But what we do have is happiness, love and a child (and hopefully one day children) to call our own. And for me, there is no price tag on that.

The Juggling Game

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Whether you decide or must go back to work after maternity leave, it is never easy. You become a juggler. You are figuring out how to work and how to be a mom at the same time along with doing all the other everyday things in your life. The first three months home is an adjustment period filled with no sleep (which truly tests your sanity), figuring out what to do with this new life you’re now responsible for, how to ‘be’ a parent with your spouse or significant other, how to still be a wife/husband/partner with your newly added family member and really just trying to survive each day while the time to return to work adds on a new weighted ball to throw up into the mix.

I had a relatively great pregnancy and despite my long labor, it was all worth it when I heard the doctor say ‘it’s a girl’ (we left the sex to be a surprise!). The first week home felt like the most exhausting and difficult time in my life. I’m a mom, now what the heck do I do and how the heck do I do it? I never felt more insecure and questioned my ability to anything and everything. It’s like someone dropping you off in the middle of the ocean and you trying to find your way to shore with your eyes closed. You don’t know what you’re doing but all you know is that you need to keep your head above water and swim and eventually you’ll get there. Eventually, I will get how to be a parent, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

So when it was time for me to return to work (I was lucky enough that my husband and I made the decision I would return part time), I wasn’t ready. How could I leave my three month old? How could I be apart from her for 9 hours a day when she hasn’t left my side since she was born? How could I focus at work when all I’ll be thinking about is how much I miss her, how is she doing, what is she doing, is she adjusting and will she be okay? It became an internal battle filled with guilt for leaving but also a little bit of relief to get a break from motherhood and back into the working world.

My first week back was awful. I cried at least once a day in the office. When someone would ask me about her my eyes would immediately well up and I found myself apologizing and feeling completely silly. However, I feel most people, parents or not, are sympathetic to the situation and understand that it’s hard to leave your child. I was eventually able to focus on work and it did feel good to be back, but a part of me still felt guilty as if I was abandoning my baby. I had to tell myself though that this is life and not many people have the ability to be a stay-at-home mom which I feel is just as difficult (if not more) than a working (at an office) mom. So, I checked in often (probably a little too much!) and told myself it will get easier (along with a lot of supportive mom friends who said the same thing).

And it did, it got easier. Now, I enjoy my time away from my daughter but can’t wait to see her when the day ends. Although my time with her on those days is short lived by the time I get home to when her bedtime routine starts, I cherish each moment. Of course I am completely exhausted starting those days at 5:30am and ending around 10pm when all the clean up is done, diaper bag is packed for the next day and bottles are washed and made but it’s worth it. She is worth it. And even though I still don’t feel like I completely have a grasp on this juggling game, I know time and experience will help me to get there or I’ll just fly by the seat of my pants and hope for the best!

Dear Husbands…Love the Mothers of Your Children

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Dear husbands:
We love you. We really do. And even when we don’t always show it, we are blessed to have your in our lives. You are our other half, our best friends, our companions for life, our secret keepers, our rocks, our circle of trust, our everything. We remember our first date and what you wore. We remember the first kiss. We remember the exact moment when we knew you were the one. We can still picture your proposal like it was yesterday. We will always remember our wedding day. It will forever be one of the best days of our lives. We remember the little moments, the ones you might not even think of. A look, a glance across the room, cooking together, dancing in the kitchen, laughing on the couch, taking a walk, cuddling at night, just being plain silly together…and we keep these moments close to our hearts.

But we also remember the bad. We remember the hurtful words, the painful arguments and the frustrating fights that escalate to a point where we forget what we’re even fighting about. We remember feeling unloved, unworthy and unappreciated. We remember the times you discounted our feelings, ignored our requests, judged our choices and didn’t listen to our thoughts. We remember not being on the same page (maybe even for a while), feeling distant, feeling your distance, wondering what the future holds, wondering how we can stay together, wondering at times how we got here, wishing things were different, wishing some things never changed, wishing you’d try harder, care more, help more…love more…

We are not easy to deal with, not by a long shot. We can be too emotional, too needy, too independent, too stubborn, too talkative, too worried, too insecure, too demanding, too negative, too hurtful, too nagging and sometimes just too much. We know this. We don’t try to be this way, it just happens. It’s part of who we are. We may be some of these things, none of these things or all of these things. Actually, we are a lot of things. We are wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, caregivers, babysitters, students, employers and employees. But above all, above all the things that we are, we are mothers. We are the mothers of your children. We physically brought this/these child/children into the world. We are responsible for them 24/7. We know that you are responsible too. This gift from God wouldn’t be possible without you, but our roles are very different. Maybe you don’t see this, or maybe you do…

From this point on, we don’t have the time to be sexy. By the time the kids are in bed we are exhausted. Whether we are stay-at-home moms or working moms, we are exhausted. And we want to be sexy for you, we really do, but we literally do not have the time or the energy. So please just love us. Tell us that we are beautiful when we know we don’t even look close to that…and mean it. We want to see that look in your eyes when we go out without kids that you’re still insanely attracted to us. We want more than anything to feel loved even when making love is the last thing on our minds.

We can do it all but we will burn out. We can be the mom, the wife, the maid, the cook, the party planner, the host, the travel agent, the disciplinary, the ‘mean’ parent, the scheduler, the shopper for all needs/occasions/presents, the lunch mom, the PTA mom, the classroom mom, the sports coach, the taxi driver, the math tutor, the spelling checker, the project helper…we can be it all. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy to take on all the tasks that we do, many which go unnoticed. Sometimes we need help without asking. Sometimes we are tired too and would love to lay on the couch and veg out…but we can’t. We have to make bottles, make breakfasts, lunches and dinners, play, build forts, give baths, read bedtime stories, make sure there aren’t monsters in the room, tuck in our babies, clean up toys, clean up the house, do laundry, kiss boo-boos, help with homework, attend to cries, whines, whimpers, colds and stuffy noses. We don’t have time to relax. And if we did, we still couldn’t because our mind is listing all the things we still need to do.

So we’re sorry if we don’t have time to be the wives we once were or the wives you want. But we are the mothers. We are the moms that give our all to ensure we have respectful, kind, intelligent and loving children. We do this with your help of course, but we mostly take on this role and maybe you feel like we should. Maybe you feel as if this is what we were meant to do. But we need your help. We need your help more than you often sometimes give or offer. We need breaks. We need to lay on the couch and veg out. We need our hair done, our nails done, a massage, a nap or sleep without interruption, the ability to go to the bathroom alone, a bubble bath and sometimes we just need a day without all the responsibilities.

We love you. We really do. And even though we don’t always show it, we are blessed to have you in our lives. But you are blessed to have us too. You are blessed for all the things that we do. We may not always find time to take care of you and your needs, but we also need caring for. So the next time you begin to feel overlooked, unappreciated, dissatisfied, neglected, unnoticed and under cared for, understand that we see you, we love and we appreciate you. But our roles have shifted and as much as we try to be the best wives and mothers, sometimes being a mom is more important. So thank you for your love, your patience and your understanding. Thank you for letting outbursts slide, giving us a break and making us feel beautiful. But most of all and through it all, thank you for being our husbands.

Love,
The mothers of your children