To say that it has been crazy in our world would probably be the understatement of the year. Hubby and I have welcomed a new baby, transitioned me from full-time work outside of the home and our oldest started kindergarten. Needless to say figuring it all out has been a major challenge. Yes, there has been a strain on our routine, there’s been an impact on our finances, but the greatest aftershocks have been felt in how all of these changes affect our relationship. Our relationship has never been easy, but it was very predictable. Now it seems scattered and tired – in a constant state of surviving. After deciding that this was not the way we wanted, or could stand, to live we’re working diligently to maintain us. Here are of the things we’ve done recently to help us stay the course:
1. Schedule weekly down time. We come and go. We work hard. We’ve started carving out time each Monday night to watch a half hour show together. (Currently, Insecure is everything.) We put the kids to bed, grab a drink/snacks, turn off the phones and just watch tv. It sounds insanely simple, because it is. But it is so good for us. It gives us a chance to press pause on our hectic lives and responsibilities without the pressure of making it a big deal. We always close the show with a conversation before jumping back into our routines. It’s only about an hour, but it’s ours.
2. Get out of the house! When we were married we chatted of fears about growing old sitting on the couch. Then we had kids and found ourselves sitting on the couch and dozing off. This became the norm because either because it was too much trouble to pack babies and their necessities or we were too exhausted from the earlier days and weeks of effort. Now we GO! I update the family calendar with possible activities and keep a running list in my head of kid friendly restaurants (with good drinks). And although we have hired babysitters before so that we can sleep, we have become very intentional about making and scheduling dates outside of the house too.
3. No kid talk. When we go on dates or have “us time”. We do not talk about the kids! They can’t consume our entire existence and the context of our relationship. There are plenty of other hours in the day when you can tackle parenting and swap funny stories.
4. Use first names. As Mommy and Daddy, we spend a lot of time in that capacity – we call each other that when speaking to the kids. The kids’ friends call us Z’s mom. Our families say “take this to your Mom; ask your dad about that”. So when it’s just us we try to use our first names. It signals to each of us that we still recognize and connect with the individual.
5. Laugh. Stress will eat away at happiness and before long you wake up and wonder when was the last time we laughed TOGETHER. We’ve been adding the humor back to our relationship, whether a ridiculous meme on social media or some crazy story we need gut-jumping laughter in our marriage.
Maintaining us takes being intentional and somewhat selfish. Our family started with just us. Our kids will grow up one day and again it’ll be just us. I’d like to know him and LIKE him then too. How are you and your mate maintaining your relationship with all of life’s changes and responsibilities?