The day our son was born was one of the most exciting days of our lives.
My husband and I had been married for almost 5 years when our little guy entered the world. We felt like that was a good amount of time for us to get to know each other and to experience “life.” (What does that even mean?!?!) You know, the usual things.
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Having a child was going to complete our family and bring us closer together – or so we thought.
The truth was that having a child actually brought out the worst in our marriage.
And it nearly did us in!
We can’t be the only ones in this boat. Right???
Let me take you on our journey through love, anger and reconnection. Grab some popcorn or a bowl of ice cream, whatever floats your boat, and enjoy.
Having a child just does something to you. And many times you can’t even begin to explain what’s going on in your head. Hormones are regulating and one moment you want to sob and the next minute your OCD kicks in and you have to WASH ALL THE WINDOWS.
My sweet husband tried his best to understand what was going on with me and wanted to do his best to support my needs. I mean, the guy called a lactation consultant and set up an appointment for me. Let’s take a moment and give him a round of applause! #RockStarDad
I was on the hot mess express and there was not a stop in sight. Eventually things began to mellow out, my husband returned to work and there I was ALONE with a baby. Not just any baby, but a baby with reflux AND colic. A baby that screamed almost ALL DAY. A baby that wouldn’t nap more than 30 minutes and had to be bounced con-stant-ly. This child, bless his heart, broke me!
My poor husband would walk in the door every afternoon to find me rocking a sleeping baby in the recliner, spit up all over me, pajamas still on, and the look of defeat written all over my face. Talk about a mood killer!
Here comes the anger part.
As months went on, this became my norm. I was mad that HE got to leave every day and HE got to escape this demon child (bless the little darling’s heart.) While I felt like I had no way out.
I was dealing with my new identity of being a stay-at-home mom, beating myself up on the inside for not accomplishing more around the house, attempting to work in a part-time ministry position, and keep everyone HAPPY.
Then HE would say that when he got home each day, it would be nice to have 10 minutes to himself to change and decompress from the work day…Uh, I’m sure you can figure out that that did not float well with me.
He has a 40-minute commute, so to me he had plenty of time to “decompress.” This fueled my fire even more. Hello, just call me Mommy Dearest.
I had no desire to be intimate with him, no desire to connect with him. Essentially, we became ships passing in the night and, instead of acting like a married couple, we were roommates.
One weekend we went to visit my parents. Things had been tense between us, but we knew we would need to keep up appearances. My mom offered to keep the baby so we could go out to dinner and have some time together. I WAS ECSTATIC!! HE, on the other hand, acted like this was a huge burden and didn’t seem interested – at all!
We went out, made decent conversation, went home and got ready for bed. On our way back to our house the next day, all these thoughts ran through my mind. Why are we even married? Would he even care if I packed up and left?
Would he fight for me?
That night, while sitting in our bed, I sobbed. I asked him if he still wanted to be married. Y’all, saying those words was THE MOST gut-wrenching moment of my life. Thinking them is one thing, but breathing life into them and allowing them to flow from your lips is another. We sat there not really sure what to say or do. I vaguely remember the minutes that ticked by between us, but somehow, we decided to set up an appointment to see a counselor. (Smart move #1.)
Now for the reconnection.
Our first counseling session was AWKWARD!!! We are super cautious around each other in front of other people, so it was difficult to let our walls down. I mean, who wants to bear their soul to a complete stranger. Wait, that’s basically what I am doing now with you. And ask them to fix all their problems?
Our counselor realized we weren’t connecting, and that we had A LOT of issues to work out. The main one being that we tend to shut down and suppress issues that bother us. Our homework for the next week was to pick a time each night to sit down and talk about the day. If I did something my husband appreciated, he would tell me. If I did something that annoyed him, he had to bring it up, too.
Um, SIDE NOTE, every married couple should do this. EVERY NIGHT!
This exercise forced us to confront our issues with each other. Through this, barriers that we had built began to fall, we felt that we could be more honest with each other, and it truly opened up communication in our marriage.
The counselor also encouraged us to make time for intimacy during the week. And I am not just talking about the “S” word. But true intimacy where we both feel emotionally and physically connected.
Dates are a great way to do this. Obviously, we can’t get out every week so we’ve tried our best to find ways to have at-home date nights. Just last night (it’s like 60+ degrees in NC right now), we had a fire outside, cooked hot dogs and made s’mores. We sat there and talked for over 2 hours, making time to listen to each other. We watch (and by watch, I mean, laugh at) “The Bachelor” on Monday nights, while eating ice cream and having a drink together. These are the things that keep us connected to each other.
These past 18 months have not been easy. We have cried,
we I have slammed doors, we have thought and said many not-so-pretty things. But the beauty of all this is WE have drawn closer to each other.
The arrival of our sweet boy may have brought out the ugly in us, but because of him, we have chosen to embrace the mess and find joy in the little things.
What about you? Are you feeling like your spouse is a complete stranger now? Are you making time to connect with each other?
Please don’t waste another moment! Marriage is a wild rollercoaster ride. Sometimes you enjoy the twists and turns, and other times, you close your eyes, hang on tight and pray you make it out the other end alive.
Children are a blessing, and they will model their own future marriages after what they see at home. Cherish each other, laugh together, flirt and kiss in front of your kids. Hold hands. Go have sex! even though you’re exhausted and haven’t showered in days (or is that just me?)
Marriage is rough, parenting is exasperating and life is, well, chaotic! Cling to each other. Because one day the kids will leave. (Don’t be those “Failure to Launch” parents.) And you will be sitting there with this person – all alone! Make the investment in your marriage NOW. Because trying to figure out how to be empty nesters with a stranger is a whole ‘nother can of worms that I do not have time for!
Many of the things I’ve shared with you, I haven’t even shared with our families and friends. I hope that through our story you will choose to make the investment now, find joy in a life together and have fun in your marriage for many years to come – even with the spit up!
About the guest blogger:
Sara is a former preschool teacher, turned stay-at-home mom. Her days consist of chasing her toddler around the house, keeping a semi-normal life together, and annoying the mess out of her husband. She helps lead an area MOPS group, as well as a mom’s Bible study, and feels that her faith in God keeps her sanity in check. The Lord has laid on her heart to share in the struggles of motherhood and marriage with those around her throughout this season of her life.
Photo credit, featured image: Wes Hicks from Unsplash.com