14 Feb It All Started with Us
After 10 years of marriage and two children, I have come to have more insight into Valentine’s Day. Having kids really changes the romance between spouses. No one tells you this when you are pregnant or after you deliver your child. You naively think, “This child will bring us closer together.” I would agree with that statement if it ended with “…after we get the hang of this parenting gig.” I think parenthood is an opportunity for personal development for many people. It’s a time where you learn to love beyond yourself and your spouse. You learn that all the effort you’ve put into your life is no longer for your well-being but for the welfare of your baby. While the birth of a child is life-changing for both parents individually, a couple’s relationship becomes even more delicate and in need of attention.
Without a doubt, having children, especially our first, threw my marriage in a tailspin. I consider my husband and I compatible. We are, however, very different from one another; he is more laid back while I tend to stress over every detail of a situation. But after we had children, I think we missed the old version of our love story. When we brought out firstborn home, our relationship started over from scratch. As a new mom, I felt like my husband didn’t comprehend the physical and emotional support I needed. I remember going through the motions every day with a newborn and wondering, “After so many years together, how does he not know what my needs are?” I truly believed at that time he should have the ability to read my mind and know how to make me happy without me verbally telling him.
Since I gave birth 7 years ago, every motion, every breath, is to ensure our children have a better life. But what happened to the focus on our marriage? Is that gone? Are the kids enough to keep our relationship solid? Are we bad people if we sometimes put our relationship first? These questions are ones I’ve asked myself consistently throughout the years. I have to believe that keeping a strong foundation with my husband makes our entire family stronger. When we are able to spend alone time together, we feel refreshed. It allows us to remember what brought us together in the first place and why we continue to take this journey as partners. Marriage shouldn’t only be about the children. I truly feel it has to go beyond that. I tested this recently on a trip with my husband to the East Coast. It was our first time away from our children for more than 48 hours in nearly 7 years. At one point my husband commented, “You’re so much more relaxed.” I knew exactly what he meant. I didn’t have to order anyone to eat their food or drink their milk. I got to be an adult for a week without directly caring for someone else. I was able to give my husband undivided attention, something I need to be more mindful of on a daily basis. We were connected for other reasons prior to having children. We need to be reminded of those reasons constantly.
I know the day will come when my children will have social lives, leaving my husband and I more time to have date nights. I don’t want to look over at him and wonder “What now?” Although week long trips, like I described, are not a common occurrence, we still find ways to be together. A simple example is monthly date nights. These are moments where we can have uninterrupted conversation. I don’t have to worry about bedtime or household chores. Our focus goes back, even if only for a few hours, to us. We’ve found this is key to keeping our family strong.
At this point in my life I consider romantic gestures to be putting away dishes, folding laundry, or even taking the kids to school. Yes, these might seem sad in the eyes of some, but I don’t fantasize about roses and chocolates on holidays like today anymore. When my husband goes out of his way to make my day easier, it shows that he does pay attention to my needs. That is the ultimate romantic gesture for me, as a mom of young children.
Parenting is quite hectic and fast paced. It’s hard to take a breath and relish in all that life has to offer. Although Valentine’s Day is a specific ‘holiday’ where people take the time to gift chocolates and cards, try to make each day special and unique for one another. Don’t save it all for one day a year. Try to enjoy the new journey and remember what connects you as a couple.. Your relationship with your spouse is special and should not take a backseat to being a parent.
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