Tuesday, October 2, 2012

three things i'm learning about keeping a marriage and a family

Even though I'm a new mom, I sometimes forget that I'm a newlywed too! Well by my standards anyway. We have been married for a month over a year now so I think it still counts! I understand why people wait to have children for a few years after they marry: it's tough! We weren't planning on having a darling baby this early in our marriage, in fact we were planning to wait for a few more years. God had a better plan though, and we cannot imagine a morning without our Mia.

The first years of marriage come with their own tough lessons without adding baby drama to the mix. It is hard 'becoming one' with someone, even if you have dated them for years (we were married after five years of dating). True love is really put to the test throughout the pregnancy, in the labor & delivery room, and at 2, 4, & 6 am feedings. We conceived a whole month after our wedding, so I started off my pregnancy and marriage very emotionally (honestly I was an Emotional Emily all three trimesters). My husband was very generous with me, he learned early on that the only way to keep me happy was to send me for a nap or to tuck me in for good.

Disclaimer: I do not have a perfect marriage and I don't claim to be any sort of expert on relationships or parenting. There are things that I have learned that are important for me to share (this is more for me than for any reader). These are things that people told me were important to learn, but I didn't realize how important until I had to live through it.

First, Sharing responsibilities is extremely important. Maybe I am the only wife/mom (unlikely) but I can feel stress rolling right off of me when I see my husband taking the trash out, vacuuming, or changing a diaper. There are days when I am so exhausted and overwhelmed and Adam knows that I am on autopilot, but watching him help out relaxes me instantly. Early on in our marriage it was hard for me to learn to share chores: not because I want to do more but because I want them done my way! Once I learned (still learning) to give up control I realized that when a chore is done it's done! That's it! Hallelujah!

We also share responsibilities in parenting. We both feel that a dad and a mom are equally important to raising a child and that nothing should be exclusive to the mother (except breastfeeding, obviously). My husband is confused when other dads shy away from doing diapers or get nervous about being alone with a baby. He enjoys taking care of Mia, I can trust him to take care of her exclusively at any point in time. He has found his own soothing ways with her. He could swaddle, bathe, feed, and play just as well as I can. Of course I love love love spending time with my little girl but it's so nice to know he can take her off my hands when I need a break! When we first found out we were parents, a couple that we're close to gave us this advice, and I am so glad!

Second, Quality Time, Quality Time, Quality Time. I said 'Time' 3x because it's important. Any new mom or dad can tell you that there is no such thing as personal time anymore. Now that is rough on a new marriage. After I have poured myself out to my child, to work, and to spending time with God, how do I find the time to spend with my husband? It's impossible! Last night we randomly woke up in the middle of the night and talked for an hour or so just to catch up with each other before falling back asleep. Before the baby we always practiced 'Monday Date Night'. Now it's a distant memory. I am learning that is so important to make time for each other (it's not like we'll regret it!) and to let my spouse know that I want to be more available. This is one place where having a shared interest comes in handy. I am trying to understand a few of my husbands hobbies (I am a fumbler with video games or sports), but I think he appreciates my efforts and we have fun if nothing else. When all else fails, there's netflix.

Third, Acknowledging your spouse's roles outside of parenting. Before I was a mom, I was (and am) many things. I enjoy being involved in my church, I like to cook, I like messing around with pictures and graphics. I love zumba, academics, and I can enjoy an opera or a good basketball game. I love meeting new people and I love roadtrips. I feel loved when my husband compliments me (what wife doesn't?) about my being a mother. Its great! But I have noticed that it is important to me that he recognizes that I wear other hats as well. I think he feels the same way. He likes his talents to be appreciated and his ideas to be valued and his roles outside of 'fatherhood' to be recognized too.

Ah, now I feel better. I am not any sort of blogger, and I have no idea what I'm doing. But sometimes on a late night like this it's nice to organize my thoughts and reflect. Someday I'll look back and read these posts and wonder what on earth I was thinking, but I am a documenter, and I have to account for the things I'm learning. Thank you for being patient with me.


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  2. You have articulated your sentiment very well :) I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word. And, not to mention....I can totally relate! I too gave birth in my first year of marriage.