It’s December’s spirit month! It frosted here on December first, and when I looked out and saw how it glistened, I was reminded of how much I love my December Snow. I think snow will always hold a special place in my heart now. Anyways, Ember is almost 4 months old, and by now I know that babies rock your whole entire world. Pretty much every aspect of your lifestyle changes. (Hence why it’s been a while since my last blog post!)
As you can imagine or have experienced, having a baby affects marriage and the relationship you have with your partner. I thought I would talk about how my marriage has evolved and how Noah and I are adapting to this wild rollercoaster of parenthood. For some background, one cool thing about our relationship is how young we were when we got together and got married. In this, we’ve already had to adapt our relationship from high school to college and college to work life. All of the big milestones of adulthood (first car, apartment, and home) we’ve experienced together, because there wasn’t a time in adulthood that we weren’t together. Because growth has been a part of our relationship for years, I think we’ve had an easier time adjusting to a new normal (or maybe it has something to do with our ridiculously adorable baby).
Let me start by saying that there’s nothing much sweeter in life than watching your spouse bond with your baby. It makes you fall in love all over again and in new ways. I’ve never experienced Noah as a father before, and it’s so fun getting to learn new things about him and his parental instincts. From conversations that we have, I truly believe that he would say the same thing about me as a mother. You can just feel the love in our household, especially when we are all spending time together. I guess that’s what family is all about. While I could probably just write a whole blog post about how proud I am of Noah, I’ll spare you from too much sappy stuff. There have definitely been some adjustments that we’ve had to make and lessons we’ve learned. Postpartum struggles aren’t just for mothers, and they don’t have to be faced alone.
- Lack of time alone as a couple:
This is a big one. For years and years, we would spend hours of the day focused on each other. We loved whisking away on weekends for short day trips, baking together, playing games, movies, etc. I never felt like our relationship lacked intimacy, because our lives were so intertwined. I will be forever thankful for the full 5 years of marriage that we had before having a baby. Without that strong foundation, I think it would be harder to adjust to the now very little time as just the two of us. That said, it is still possible to have special moments together. We cherish the hour or so between when Ember and I go to sleep (Noah often stays up later than me now). We talk over decaf coffee, goof around, and relax. It’s like a little date each day. Other things that have been important to us are sitting at the dinner table together, watching football, and slow weekend mornings. It’s truly the simple moments that can be the most meaningful, and I hope Ember can see the fruits of this when he’s older.
Key tips: I highly recommend routinely dedicating a portion of your days together no matter how small. Prioritize your relationship and always laugh.
- Lack of energy
Okay, this is another big one for us. Our baby is truly wonderful, but he’s not the best sleeper…at all. We are both exhausted a lot of the time. Thank goodness for daylight savings, because it makes me feel less weird about getting ready for bed ridiculously early. It’s been important that we vocalize to each other when we need help in order to get through the day and to not resent each other. If I’ve gotten very little sleep, I make sure to ask if he can cover Ember duty for a while so that I can be a better wife and mom. On the flip side, I try to be conscious of not asking for favors that I can do myself when I can tell he is running on empty.
Key tips: It boils down to respecting that each person’s days are hard despite the nature of the work. Support each other when you can, and give your partner the opportunity to relax when you feel strong.
- Balance of baby duties
There is no right way to tag team taking care of a baby, because there are so many factors that can come into play: who works, breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, family support, etc. We just try to keep it lighthearted and do what we can together. This means we come running to observe the carnage of blowouts if we are both at home and laugh it off. We enjoy bath time and the nightly routine together, but I feed Ember throughout the night and do the morning routine. I’m not the one working full-time, and I happily take care of little goon when I can.
Key tips: Try to make baby “chores” fun with your spouse if you can. Don’t get upset if the workload doesn’t end up perfectly even.
- Well-being support:
To tie in with “lack of energy, Noah and I make sure to keep tabs on each other’s physical and mental health. I try to ask him each morning how he is feeling both mentally and physically to gauge how I go about planning the day. He does the same for me (if I’m awake and alert when he leaves for work). If I feel he’s particularly stressed, I’ll be sure to call him on his lunch break and create the most peaceful environment possible. I don’t like guesswork in relationships, and even just vocalizing feelings tends to ease stress.
Key tip: Make health a daily discussion. I believe talking about health promotes health.
- Respect for alone time:
I love my son so much, but I have also never loved alone time more. I’m sure Noah feels the same way (even though he loved alone time before too). For me, there is sometimes nothing better than a long shower, candlelit bath, or walk. For Noah, streaming and writing make him happy. When you have a baby, alone time isn’t selfish. Rather, I think it’s necessary in order to refresh and be the best parent you can be. I enjoy when I’m able to give Noah a solid chunk of solitude, because I can tell how much more fulfilled he is afterwards. Because I have the best husband ever, he does the same for me.
Key tip: Don’t make your partner feel guilty about needing alone time. If they ask for it, they need it. Offering to give it to them before they ask is even better.
- Tough decisions:
Having a baby during a global pandemic is not ideal, and we’ve had to make decisions that we never thought we would have to make about who can see our son and what our boundaries are. The pandemic is just one example that is above and beyond the usual parenting topics of discussion. I personally enjoy a good pros and cons list and a whole lot of respect when talking about a serious decision that needs to be made. There are also times where a particular outcome is more important to one of us, and we usually trust each other in those instances. If we don’t have trust and a little faith, then arguments are bound to happen, and we honestly don’t do anger and arguments in this household.
Key tips: Always respect your partner’s point of views and trust each other.
I’ve said this before, but you have to be your partner’s biggest cheerleader. As a new parent, you need a whole lot of praise. You need all the pom poms and cheers that you can get, because it is hard work. Be each other’s rock in the midst of everything that is changing. I think even babies can tell when good vibes are in the air.
Now, Noah and I aren’t perfect; however, I humbly feel that we have literally the best marriage ever. I want Ember to know what love, partnership, and peace looks like in a relationship. I want our marriage to be the core foundation of our home and for our and children’s lives to be filled with love because of it. I want the same joyful relationship for you too.