Whatever you do, have a date night every week!
This can even be an at home date night (check out Natasha's blog on that coming up on the 14th if you need some ideas!). It's just SO important to get a break from the routine when you have a little one running around. As well, keep in mind that you can do "family date nights" if you can't afford a babysitter. My husband and I do this all of the time since we're rather strapped for cash paying for school and with both of us working babe is at the sitter's a lot already. It's just that break in the routine that is the most important aspect for us. A chance to not cook dinner, not do the dishes, and do something different. It's like a mini-vacation when you can do this. If you are able to afford a babysitter, I highly recommend it. And make a rule that you cannot talk about the baby for at least part of your date. This will force you to talk about other parts in your lives and reconnect on a more person-to-person level (like you used to when you were dating!). It is extremely important that you don't lose touch with your spouse and their day-to-day activities. That will kill your relationship faster than you'll even be able to notice.
This is a crazy concept for so many of us, are you ready for it? Husbands and wives need to come before baby.
Now, this doesn't mean you neglect your child - not at all. What it means is that you need to make your spouse a priority. Your baby is going to grow up, get married, and have a family of their own one day - so now is the time to invest in your spouse to ensure they still like you once baby has babies of their own :) This means that when your husband had a really rough day at work you are going to give him a big hug, take him somewhere quiet and really listen to his struggles for a bit and give some real feedback - away from the kids. This means that when your wife had a really rough day at her work or with a screaming child that you are going to take that baby and give her a break to do go to the bathroom, or give her a hug as well and let her know that you are there for her no matter what. You have no idea how much these small acts mean to spouses and what they really do for relationships! Your spouse should always know that even if they are not the first thing on your mind every moment of every day, that they are still a priority for you and you will be there exactly when they really need you.
When you see each other, talk on the phone, or are just texting - ask how their day is going.
My husband is a "How was your day today, sweetie?" CHAMP. Seriously, I can time how long I've been home with when he asks me that. And you know what? I never get tired of answering it. It always makes me feel like at least someone cares what I did that day, even if it was sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream going on my fifth episode of How I Met Your Mother while my daughter (gloriously) took an extra long nap. You know what's even better though? He really listens to what I did that day. He asks follow-up questions and checks in on goals that I've set for myself. He is the perfect example of doing this. And I cannot sufficiently communicate to you how much it has saved our relationship this last year. Just knowing that someone out there cares about what I am doing makes me want to work harder, be better, and succeed at everything I do. That makes for some FANTASTIC motivation, if you didn't know. I guarantee that if you implement this with your spouse (not expecting them to do this, but truly just being interested in them) you will slowly see your relationship getting stronger and healthier. You will see your spouse become happier and more driven. And you will be reminded about how much you love them. No joke.
You're going to tell me this is crazy talk but seriously, go to bed at the same time. At least after those first few sleepless months.
Going to bed together at the same time helps you accomplish a few things:
- You get to wind down together. This is important especially if you are both super busy like my husband and I.
- You can talk about all the things you forgot to talk about earlier when you were trying to wrangle the kiddos from dinner to baths to bedtime.
- Pillow talk. Literally my favorite thing. There have been a few times where my husband and I will just sit up late at night talking about any subject that decides to makes its way across our minds. We have solved world hunger at least four times.
- Routine is everything sometimes. I know I told you earlier that it's good to shake up the routine, but you gotta have a routine to shake up in the first place.
- Prime cuddle time. To be frank, non-sexual touch is a huge winner for so many relationships. You gotta have a fair amount of it or your relationship is going to go kaput one day.
Just do it. You'll thank me later.
I know you probably feel like you are carrying most of the load in terms of child rearing, but trust me, your spouse feels the same way. So, share the load.
We all experience parenthood and its stresses in different ways. We also all split up the responsibilities of rearing children differently (unless you're a single parent - in which case HOLLA because you are truly worth a million dollars!). This means that you and your spouse both probably feel like you are taking a huge portion of this whole raising children thing and you think your spouse is being, dare I say it, lazy. Which lets admit it, we're all lazy sometimes (hence my Netflix experience a few paragraphs back) - but very few of us are lazy on a regular basis. My husband and I definitely had quite the fight about this a few weeks back. Both of us were strained because of our lives outside of the home, and our sweet daughter had just finished a particularly unhappy day. But we soon realized that each of us were feeling the same exact way. And you know what it means when someone feels the same way you do? That you are expecting different things out of the other person than they are expecting out of themselves. So, I want to encourage all of you to do what my husband and I did after that fight: sit down and talk about what each of your responsibilities are when it comes to work, the home, and your children. Realize that some responsibilities will weigh heavier on your spouse then on yourself - and take that into account. For instance, my husband is far and away the breadwinner for our household. However, I also feel that my job contributes greatly to our lifestyle and I work very hard for it. But, as hard as I work for my paycheck I do not have the added pressure of "if I don't work, my family won't be able to eat." Realize that that is a real thing for many spouses - and that is a heavy weight to bear.
One final thought...
Always tell your spouse you love them. Every. Single. Day. My husband and I have our own little "daily dance" - "Do you know that I love you?" "Maybe." "What?!" "Haha, of course I know! Promise you'll love me forever?" "Always." One of us never fails to start this dance with the other before bed time. It makes a world of difference. Love them for everything they are - their whole, entire being. And always give them the benefit of the doubt. Always, Michelle Anne Header Photo Credit: gent-andscoundrelThis is a crazy concept for so many of us, are you ready for it? Husbands and wives need to come before baby.