First comes love, then comes marriage, then…down the road and a couple years later when you’re somewhat financially stable and settled from your move across the country you take a vacation and here comes baby.
Well, it at least worked out that way for us.
My husband and I were very open with each other about family and our desire to have children – eventually. We looked forward to when we would become parents and couldn’t wait for that next season of our lives together. Now, as we parent our eight month old and sit in reflection of it all, our marriage has changed a bit. It’s to be expected and a tad unavoidable; and not so much in a bad way, but just different as we find ourselves with a new circumstance within our union.
Speaking for myself, I have found I am quite picky about how to care for our son. Brand new things annoy me that never bothered me before, after spending all day at home with a constant teething son my patience has dropped significantly, and overall I just have my way of doing things at home and with Greyson.
However, I’ve learned that there’s a way to preserve the relationship you have as a wife and mother that leaves room for yourself too…
Keeping my husband my #2 in our marriage.
Not number one? Hear me out.
One of the biggest worries my husband had right before Greyson arrived home was that I would give my son more attention than him; that he would be bumped to the bottom of the totem pole in our family. However, that couldn’t be farther than the truth. My belief is simply that God comes first, my husband second, and my child(ren) third. Keeping that in mind has allowed my husband and I’s relationship to become stronger even having our little Greyson around. Having God first allows His word and teachings to guide my life and marriage, which affects who I am as a woman and wife to my husband, and thus a reflective living example onto our son.
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
I’ve personally seen how strained a marriage can become when one partner, typically the mother, becomes more affectionate or wrapped up in their child over their spouse. I love my son so much and I would love nothing more than to dedicate all of my waking hours to him, but there are other people (and responsibilities) that demand my affections and time as well. Learning to balance baby and my husband have proven to keep our marriage as strong as ever and (hopefully) keeping my husband feeling loved and attended to.
Continued time for each other without baby.
Time was precious even when we didn’t have kids and now that we have Greyson it’s vital in our marriage that we make sure to spend quality time with each other. These days our time is divided up between my husband and his work, taking care of our Murphy (our pup), and caring for the baby. That leaves just a smidge of time for each other and it’s so important we make the effort to resume our relationship even with the addition of the baby.
We’ve gone wine tasting, to happy hour, dinner, and enjoy snuggling up to an episode of Game of Thrones – all with baby in tow (follow our adventures on Instagram). To us, that’s our new normal and I’m thankful I have a husband who stretches himself to make time for his needs as well as the needs of his family. Our alone time is equally important as it is us, the two adults, that form our marriage and time away from the baby helps remind us we’re more than just parents.
“In every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.”
Making time for intimacy in our marriage.
Oh, sex. Getting back on this proverbial horse was a difficult one for me. Not because I didn’t miss being intimate with my husband, but for what sex would be like after healing from a vaginal delivery. Things shifted bit down there, breastfeeding makes things interesting, and it
was is definitely painful. Connecting with my husband again in that way just makes me feel so much more in love with him even amidst the diapers, spit-up, and tiresome nights. Never mind the scent of breast milk that lingers between my boobs #justsaying – nonetheless, it’s intimacy that keeps us grounded as husband and wife.
Talking about sex…
Besides, you know your husband deep down can’t wait for this day either and talking with him about your feelings on the subject definitely alleviates any kind of pressure or self-consciousness going in. Just because your doctor may give you the go-ahead after 6 weeks doesn’t mean you’re ready – I know I wasn’t. However, discussing how I was feeling and making sure to affirm my husband in other ways kept our bond strong within our marriage and made those more intimate nights special.
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.”
1 Corinthians 7:3 NLT
Which brings us to…
Having a baby can definitely make or break a marriage due to the newfound stress, sleepless nights, and new roles in which each person plays. I have always prided our marriage on my husband and I’s ability to talk and discuss what’s on our mind. Even if the conversations are uncomfortable or deal with hurt feelings. Ensuring we’re both on the same page about the baby helps us discuss what’s on our minds. Even if it’s about my husband’s habit of throwing soiled diapers on the floor when changing the baby instead of using the Diaper Genie, which is this innovative little contraption that is designed just for soiled diapers. But, you know.
Don’t let new mommy stress take control…
Maintaining your communication is so important, but it’s also in how you communicate too. Being up with the baby at night or during the day can cause a new mom to be stressed out by the time dad gets home from work. Words can be said and tones can become snappy, but try to keep in mind the day your husband may have had and how excited he is to be home with his family – just to clock into another full time job: parenting.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Ephesians 4:29 NLT
Learning to let go of the control.
This one is important for me as the mother. I was watching a documentary on Netflix the other day called The Beginning of Life and there’s a portion of the film in which new dads comment about having a baby and their care-taking dynamic versus that of their wives. They talk about how they are less likely to help out with certain things because their wives do it a certain way and they’d just rather let them do it. Not because they don’t want to participate in caring for their child, but because they perceive they won’t “do it the right way.” The irony is we all know there is no real right way to care for a baby.
It’s no secret that I definitely have a way of caring and doing things for Greyson that differs from my husband’s and I just need to learn to let him care for our son. No matter what form that may look like (see diaper story above). I am guilty of trying to have him conform to how I do things, but the fact of the matter is I don’t want my husband to feel inadequate or feel like he needs to get my approval on how to do things as a father. Because after all, I do need his help and am grateful for his role in Greyson’s life.
You’re already fantastic parents…
Parenthood, especially as new parents, is a journey and one in which can switch from exhausting to exciting as quickly as your little one’s temperament. Just remember that you and your spouse are on the same team and if you can survive infancy you’re all set for toddlerhood and beyond. Just keep these few things in mind as your cross the threshold together…I’ll let you know how it goes for us 😉
Until then, any words of wisdom for maintaining your sense of self as a mother and wife to share?