I can honestly say I completely underestimated the power my baby would have to change my marriage. Not in a bad way, a new baby is all consuming and there is little time, effort or energy for anything else. Here are my top tips for keeping marriage alive during the infant phase.
- Date Night or Day Date-Some how you have to make time for each other. Honestly, we didn’t go on a date for at least 9 months after our first baby was born. However, we met up for a lunch date once a week and did at home date nights after the baby went to bed at least monthly. Now we do at home date nights weekly and try to go out on a date at least once a month. It’s not “easy” but you have to make time for each other. Honestly, some times we plan a date and its a total flop and we end up just watching a movie and that’s okay. It’s the thought that counts, check out my at home date night post here: at-home-date-night. Biggest take away here is just put the effort in and don’t over think it. At first I tried to hard to make date nights what they used to be, but when you just want to climb into bed at 8 p.m., that is a challenge! I still get dressed up (aka out of my normal workout outfit, do my hair and put some makeup on) and the effort for me is half of it. When I feel put together and cute it makes it easier to put in the effort to have a date after the girls are down and I am tired and most of the time could just crawl into bed.
- Don’t Keep Score!-I am guilty of this one on and off for years, without my husband even knowing. This is a really bad idea, you will only end up hurt and upset and your spouse will have no idea why. I’ll tell you a secret…it will never be even at this point! Click here for a link to my blog post on this topic: keeping-score-in-marriage.
- Accept all help-Coming from someone who didn’t have a lot of help and had a really hard time accepting any help. Take what you can get! It may not seem like a big deal if someone offers to come over and bring you lunch, but trust me you need the interaction, a potential shoulder to cry on and food more than you realize. I will never forget crying to my brother about breastfeeding struggles and him coming over and making us dinner which is all I needed at the time.
- Let it go!-Okay, this takes practice for sure, but letting little (and sometimes bigger stuff) go is needed. For example, I hate leaving dishes in the sink overnight, but you know what, I do sometimes just because I only have an hour at the end of the day and cleaning the dishes will take 25% of that time. Or choosing to not pick a fight with your spouse at a time when you could, but mostly you just want to argue cause you are tired and want to feel like you won at least one battle today, again not worth it! One day you won’t have to let the dishes go in the sink or let the laundry pile up and that day will be glorious!
- Say thank you-Newborn days are some of the hardest days, it feels like it will never end. The nights seem endless, the days blur together and you have no idea how you will come out alive. It’s a thankless job but one thing that helped me get through it was to be thankful. I said thank you when the baby finally fell asleep, to my husband when he did the dishes, when the baby slept for longer than usual and most importantly when I felt completely lost I said thank you to my baby for being my baby.
- Go to bed early-One day a week (I do Mondays), get into bed after getting the baby down. My husband and I tag team bed time so one of us does bath time and starts the bed time dance (as we call it in our house) while the other cleans up from dinner. One thing that I really can’t let go of, is dirty dishes in the sink. I get slightly stressed out going to bed with a dirty kitchen, I often take this time to vacuum the downstairs as well. Just a quick job to get the dog hair up and crumbs the dog missed. Then we both do our routine of getting the girls down, with one kid this was a bit easier. Now we both have our responsibilities and we trade off as needed. Usually the girls are both in bed and asleep by 7 pm. On Mondays, I get into bed at this time too. We don’t go to sleep at this time, but we read, chat etc., but one rule is no T.V. and I try to limit my screen time before bed. Often I just read and am ready to turn out the lights by 8/8:30 pm. Once we started doing this, we were able to start the week off on the right foot we were able to keeping the marriage alive.
I’m not an expert by any means, but I will say that a few fights and countless moments of “we got this”. I know you can easily loose yourself that first year of your baby’s life. It takes two to tango and it takes a village, not everyone has the village to start so definitely learn to work with your partner to support keeping your marriage alive during that first year and beyond.