With Valentine’s day coming up, it seems only fitting to think about my marriage, and how we still manage to like each other after having two kids in just two years…most of the time!
Between the lack of sleep and the baby stuff everywhere, to the chaos of everyday life, it’s difficult to get any alone time, let alone put in the effort to make each other a priority.
Sometimes I have to sit back and remember that at the start of this, it was just my husband and I. As young parents, I often think how exciting our life was before kids, how much we’ve been through together, and how proud I am of us! Our relationship was able to withstand college 10 years ago, marriage, moving twice, the ups and downs along the way, as well as two babies so far, and I can still say that we are best friends. Here are some of the things that have worked for us over the past couple of years, before and after kids, and may work for you too!
1. Enjoy and appreciate the little things
We’re not romantic people and we don’t like to spend a ton of money on each other, in fact we probably won’t even get each other anything for Valentine’s Day this year. Even greeting cards are about $5 each now!! Instead, we choose to do things together and do nice things for each other. The importance of small gestures is explained perfectly in this article written by Chrissy Roussel. The little things make the biggest difference. For example, my husband and I enjoy having some alone time after the kids are asleep. I might buy his favorite ice cream and he might empty the dishwasher for me! I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is. It really is.
2. Make time for each other, in and outside of the house
You’ve heard the experts say that date night is the key to any long-term relationship, right? That does not have to stop just because kids come into the picture. Make date night a priority because it is important. We also do date days because they’re easier, and we love getting out and doing something outdoors as well. A good hike, a nice glass of wine, and good conversation can go a long way. When you’re home, find time to unplug. No one wants to talk to you with your face in a phone. Listen, and show your significant other that they’re still important.
3. Stay true to who you are as individuals
This is a big one for us. We’re not one of those couples who spend time at the bar together, and you won’t find us watching a chick flick or the big game together on Sunday. We have our own interests, and they happen to be very different. I like getting my nails done alone or with my mom, and getting drinks with my girlfriends once in a while. He likes playing on a softball team and going to happy hour with work friends. One of the best things you can do once you have kids is to make time for yourself. Do the things that make you happy, and don’t lose your identity just because you’ve gained the title of “wife” or “mom.”
This goes without saying but sometimes in the thick of things and when your mind is on the kids, you forget how to speak to each other! You may not agree on every parenting decision, but if you discuss it, you can come to a decision together. Set a good example of treating each other with respect for your kids. Say thank you. Take a breath before speaking if you’re upset. Agree to disagree sometimes. I realize that life is not just about us anymore, and we need to rally together sometimes to make it through. This is made possible through communication!
5. Live, Laugh, Love
One of my favorite things to do is to sit in our living room and play, just the four of us. The baby and I are cuddling while she watches her big brother in awe and my husband and son are wrestling and laughing on the ground. Laughter has a power of making you grateful for what you have, and turning any bad day into a good one. Live life to the fullest, laugh with your kids together, and love with everything you have.
I think of any relationship like a new house. You build it together, and over time it develops character, but also imperfections. You need to put in work to keep it strong. You’ve built a life together, added more people to it, and in order to stay together and strong you need to put work into it as well. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it!
Happy Valentine’s Day!