I feel like I need to talk about this as I know when we were expecting it wasn't ever a topic that came up. While I was reading about how hard it is to be parents, and what to expect of labor and delivery I never once thought that my marriage would change.
I feel, as moms, a lot of stress is put on us to be perfect. To have the perfect child, the cleanest home, the nicest cars, and the best husband. We should only gain 20ish pounds while pregnant, never have stretch marks appear, and be down to our pre-pregnancy pants by the time we leave the hospital. We read all the books, buy all the new fangled devices and are expected to have this parenting thing down by the time your hospital stay is over. Heck, I had 9 months to prepare, why wouldn't I be ready?
Can I just say that's a LOT that's expected of us, and we try, I tried, so hard to live up to all these expectations. I agonized over decisions on how I wanted to parent. Should we hold her? Should we let her cry? Is she hungry? Should we be feeding her more? Should we bring her in bed with us? If we do will she be sleeping with us until she's 5? Then you finally make a decision and second guess yourself if you don't see the results you were hoping for... and sometimes even if you get the results you want you still second guess yourself...
With all of this, marriage is put on a back burner. Not that we did/do it on purpose, or that we love each other any less, it's just hard to make the time when you have this little addition to your family that demands so much of your time and energy. It's pretty hard to admit that my marriage wasn't a priority of mine for a few months. Nothing was wrong with my marriage and I love my husband to pieces, however, not making time to be 'married' (I think) took a toll on us. We just became more crabby and lost in our new found parenting roles.
I think it is very important to not forget that I am a wife AND a mom. My husband and kid have two completely different set of needs from me, and I think in the beginning I thought by being a good mom I was taking care of my wifely obligations as well. (Of course as I type that I sound so old-timey!) However, once we actually realized what was happening we started a conversation, and to be quite honest, it's still an on-going conversation.
Here are some things that work for us:
- Never go to bed angry. - I know how dumb that sounds, but it seriously works.
- Ask for help. - Ok, so I'm not so good at this one. I find myself telling Pat all the time that he should just know what to do. He can't read my mind though and I really need to get better at communicating my needs to him.
- Go on dates. - We rarely get to do this, but we are trying to make it a point every month or so. It's just nice to get out of the house and spend some quality time together.
- Fun time as a family. - We actually just started that this weekend. We went to the zoo and just left all the chores, laundry, dishes etc for another day. It's enjoyable to just go have family fun because you can!
- Talk, talk, and talk some more. - I think this is one of our strong points as a married couple. My tone may not always be appropriate (yet another thing I need to work on) but at least we always talk about everything! Always!
- Take turns. - We take turns putting Kimber to bed, changing diapers, getting up with her on the weekends, and playing with her during the week. It's nice to know that I get to sleep in on Sundays no matter what, or that if she was difficult to get to go to sleep one night that it's Pat's turn the next. It goes without saying that splitting stuff up makes this whole parenting thing a little less overwhelming.
- Assigned chores. - I'm pretty anal about how I clean so Pat takes care of his office, the laundry, and trash. He also helps with Kimber while I do my cleaning spree on the weekends. Again, this helps with that overwhelming feeling :)
I'm sure there are more things that we do, and will do in the future and it's taken us nine months to figure out that we shouldn't neglect each other just because we have an amazing, adorable, fantastic, beautiful daughter. For us, it just comes down to finding that balance and I'm sure it will be ever adjusting. One thing I know for sure, I am very much looking forward to spending the rest of my life enjoying every moment I get to be married to such a great guy!