all photos by Katelyn James Photography.
Today is our two year wedding anniversary. The past two years have been both the fastest and the slowest two years of my life. I really do mean that in a good way. What I mean is, the past two years have absolutely FLOWN by, but at the same time, I almost can’t even remember my life before John. It’s like we’ve known each other forever.
I thought in honor of our anniversary, that it would behoove me to share an article I wrote for Twila magazine back in November.
Happy Anniversary, JES. I love you more than you know.
Five Ways to Keep the Marriage Alive After Having a Baby
I always knew that having a baby would be a huge life change.
I have to admit, however, how naive I was as to HOW MUCH my life would change. Our LIVES would change.
John and I couldn’t be happier and our lives are better now that our little Lilly is in them. Seriously. There are times when we just look at each other in complete awe at what we manufactured – and at the same time, we wonder what we did before we had her.
She’s brought so much joy and laughter and love in our home already. And my love for John has only grown exponentially. I knew I loved him before (obviously), but now, when I watch him hold our daughter, play with her, talk to her, give her a bath… my heart just explodes.
It’s almost physically painful.
But the truth is, I know that I am NOT naive enough to believe that it will always be this way. And, for the good of our family – for Lilly – and for us, it’s so important for us to keep focused and keep our marriage a priority, but that’s not always easy.
So, we work at it. Daily.
I love Lilly – more than I can possibly express… but I loved her daddy first – and if I don’t continue to love him more and put our marriage first – she, eventually, would suffer the consequences of that.
But how do you keep your marriage strong and a priority when you’re sleep deprived and you have a newborn constantly demanding your attention?
Well, here’s just a few things we do:
- We read the Bible together. Since the day we got married, we have vowed to keep Jesus Christ at the center of our marriage – and so we make reading the bible and prayer a priority. Now, even if you’re not a Christian, it’s so important to make that spiritual aspect of your relationship something you can both come back to and center yourselves on. And no, we certainly don’t always hit the mark with this one, but we make every effort to take AT LEAST 10 minutes a day to go through a devotional, read a chapter of the bible, or pray together. It’s often really late a night right before we’re about to go to sleep. And yes, there are times where we’d rather JUST go to sleep, but we both know that it’s important to do – so, we do. We make it a priority.
- We have a weekly “tradition.” Every Sunday after church, I put Lilly down for a nap, and then John and I have “burger Sunday.” John fires up the grill and grills the burgers and I make the cheese fries. And then, we sit down at our kitchen table with our (delicious) burgers and fries and we talk and we spend time together and we eat. Then, we watch football until Lilly gets up from her nap and it’s time to go back to the routine of the day. Sure, it’s nothing fancy, but I look forward to burger Sunday every single week. It’s that guaranteed time we have together – and it’s my favorite.
- Date each other. This is definitely something that we are still working on. We’ve only had one actual “date night” since Lilly was born – as in where the grandparents watched her while we went out to dinner. We know it’s a process – finding the sitter, making the time for it, etc. but it’s important. And, even if you can’t get a sitter and you can’t get out alone, taking time after the little one has gone to bed to just sit on the couch together and veg out and have a date night at home – that counts too! I love looking forward to Monday and Wednesday nights when I know that after Lilly has gone to bed, it’s time for us to snuggle up on the couch and watch our favorite shows.
- Communicate. Often. One thing John and I do REALLY well is communicate. We talk about EVERYTHING. Good or bad. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve never really been in a fight before – because any time something comes up or a conflict arises, we address it pretty quickly. But especially after having a baby, it’s really important to communicate everything. Talk about your feelings about being a parent. What are your fears? What are you looking forward to? What concerns do you have? Questions? For the moms – it’s SO important to be open with your husband about how you’re feeling physically. Labor and delivery takes a SERIOUS toll on a woman’s body. And if you breastfeed, that can be REALLY tough, too! So with all of that combined, you’re likely not feeling 100% – which can affect everything – your mood, your sleeping, your clothes, your libido… everything. Talk to you husband about what you’re feeling. He can’t read your mind… and if he knows that you’re not feeling your sexiest, he’ll know how he can try and help. If that makes sense… For the dads – be open with your wife about how you’re feeling as a dad. Are you feeling “involved” enough? Is there anything you are feeling insecure about? Talk to her about these things. You married this person – so no question should be off limits! Just remember, you’re not mind readers – so don’t expect the other person to know exactly how you feel… unless you TELL them!
- Do things for each other. Remember when you were first dating or first engaged or first married and you’d do special little things for each other? Like, husbands, you’d bring your wife flowers for no reason at all? Or wives, you’d make your husband’s favorite meal or maybe buy him a shirt in a store you know he’d like? Keep doing those things. Just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still spoil each other every now and then. In fact, it’s almost MORE reason for you to spoil each other. The little things go a LONG way in keeping that fire in your marriage.
Those are just a few of the things John and I are doing to keep our marriage strong and healthy with a baby now. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.
Every last bit of it.