Oh, Marriage

Marriage isn’t always easy. It doesn’t come naturally. I mean it does, kind of. But it takes a lot of work to make it, er, work. There’s the intimate part, the relationship part, the financial part, the household duties part, and a lot of other parts. Then, throw in other people or things to care for and we can’t forget about careers or friends and family. Well life gets a little nuts.

Our marriage automatically gets pushed to the back burner when all of those other things need dealt with. I’m sure I’m not the only one to say, after having a baby it got even worse. Lack of sleep alone made me a pretty poor companion. When I was awake, I spent 98% of my brain power focused on the tiny baby. As Maximus has gotten older we’ve gotten a little better about having time to ourselves. We don’t go on many dates. I might be able to count the number on one hand. We’ve gotten someone to watch Maximus {family isn’t called a babysitter, right?} numerous times, but it’s for things we want to attend. While we have a great time, it’s not one-on-one time. {But it’s just as important to our happiness level. Friends mean a lot to us, so it does matter, just in one of those other parts I listed above.}

I’m not sure if you’ve tried having an adult conversation while in the presence of a toddler {or child any age}. Bryan likes to believe that Maximus has radar and gets really loud every time he’s trying to say something “important.” The level of frustration that my husband experiences is rather comical. Unfortunately, my humor at the matter proves that I’m not completely “in” when Maximus is awake. I think it’s because I’m away from him all day, so at night I just want to completely absorb him in and not focus on anything else.

This mentality leaves the relationship to 8 pm, when everyone is tired and exhausted from the day. It’s not ideal. I can understand why people have problems. Like I said, it’s a lot of work! At the end of a long day, I’d prefer to zone out and not think. I know that’s not good for my marriage. I’m not sure I always knew that. I think there was a time that I was selfish and didn’t think about the kind of wife I needed to be for my husband.

Over the past few months, we’ve put in a lot of effort to “find our way back.” We have both stopped thinking about ourselves and are focusing more on each other. It was a pretty simple change, but the side effects are great! Here are some of the things that we do to stay focused on our relationship.

  • During the summer months, we spent a lot of 8 pm hours just talking. Reconnecting if you will. Except we didn’t have any distractions. It was just us with the sunset enjoying the cool breeze on the deck. We’d sit out there for an hour or two with nothing but each other to focus on.
  • Family walks have multiple benefits. Exercise being important to this pregnant mama. Exercise and anything to wear out the dog is mandatory during nice weather. Maximus enjoys the stroller ride and sits mutely observing everything. This gives Bryan and I a solid hour to talk about our day, upcoming events, or anything. Even in the dead of summer when it was 100 degrees, we managed to get walks in. It’s therapeutic for us.
  • Lunch hours. We are fortunate to have an 8-minute commute to the office. We both need a little break during the work day. Most days we go home for lunch, riding to and from together. We try not to focus too much on work and what happened that morning, but sometimes it is nice to vent and be able to move on. Every once in a while we go out for lunch. Because it’s a rare occurrence, it feels like a date…during the middle of the day, in work clothes. 🙂 The lunch hour is a good chance to focus on each other, even if we don’t talk about anything of importance.
  • Weekly budget conversations. This gives us a good chance to make sure we’re following our spend for the month, but also multiple opportunities to talk about goals. Money conversations almost always lead to us talking about goals and desires.

I’m surprised at how easy it is to get into a marriage rut. It’s also surprising how quickly it can happen. I never thought about our relationship after dating. I assumed life would always be exciting and fun. It turns out that first year marriage jokes are closer to reality than any of us would like to think.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but sometime over the past five years my husband and I got into a really comfortable routine. Unfortunately the routine didn’t focus on us, but more on him and me as individuals. Without having too much turmoil, we’ve realized that we need to work to make this a happy, healthy relationship. I’m not sure if it’s noticeable to an outsider, but our house is filled with a lot more conscious love. I love you’s have a lot more heart and soul behind them. There’s passion in eyes that had become glassed over. There’s appreciation for doing laundry, putting the dishes away, or feeding the dog. It’s less about what he has to do and what I have to do. And it’s much more about us wanting to do things to help the other person out.

I know it won’t be sunshine and family walks when LBL 2.0 arrives. I know that we’ll add another block to the leaning tower.  But, I also know that we’ve got the solid backbone of a marriage that will last. I know that we have that foundation of us to hold the family together. We may have to remind each other to take time out for our relationship, but at least this time we know to do that. And this time we know what to expect when we add a baby to the mix!

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