Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just honeymoon for, like, a year? No responsibilities, no tight schedule, no pressure. Instead, only time to spend with each other, in that blissful, newlywed haze.
Then, real life hits, which is full enough. With work, friends, family, faith, and community, even time to yourself tends to be a precious and rare thing, let alone time together.
But add a new baby into the mix, and it all goes into hyperdrive. Suddenly life requires that I am in constant motion, or everything goes into chaos. And I find myself at the end of the day in complete exhaustion mode, and not ready to give to anyone, certainly not my husband. (Because he’ll understand the most…right?)
If you’re like me, you can put your marriage on the back burner. We’ll survive it, you think, we just have to get through this time. I relate. Life now, with both a newborn and a toddler, feels full to bursting. Spending time focusing on our marriage seems like one more plate to spin.
There is hope in these times, married friends. As hectic and overwhelming as life gets, your relationship with your spouse doesn’t have to suffer for it. You don’t have to wait until the busy season is past. It doesn’t make for a healthy relationship, and it leaves even more to work out later.
It also doesn’t take much to keep the spark alive. Even if you only have a little to give to each other, it can make a big difference. Here are some ways I’ve found to be able to keep your marriage strong in such a busy season.
1. Find at least one mindless thing you connect over, apart from anything or anyone else.
Pick something to talk about and bond over, and that doesn’t take much time, where you can escape together. The mindlessness is important. It takes away the pressure of making it happen at a certain time, spending a lot of time on it, or having to put work into it. When you’re exhausted, that makes a difference.
It could be a TV show, a puzzle, a walk, maybe a book you read together. For us just after Nolan was born, it was the show The Crown. I started watching it while I was pumping; one day James started watching along, and we both got hooked.
2. Give each other space to have alone time, too.
There is so much to do in the initial few weeks home with baby that you honestly just need time to yourself. A shower, a nap, some reading, a walk by yourself, or a quick trip to the store help make you feel normal and stay sane. Don’t feel the pressure to take advantage of every spare minute to get time with your spouse. Recharging by yourselves will help you better be able to give to each other.
3. Appreciate each other’s effort.
There’s a lot of basic functioning in those first few weeks/months/years. You get to the point where you do certain things without even thinking about it. And you’re both in this together – hopefully you are both helping each other out. But thanking each other, and noticing and appreciating each other goes a long way. Because as cute as they are, babies don’t thank you for taking care of them. So it’s nice to hear it from someone.
4. Share words of encouragement.
Along the same vein, build each other up whenever you can. James is so great at this – telling me that I am doing a great job as a mom, that I look beautiful, or that he is proud of me. I need to hear that, and he needs to hear encouragement from me, too – that I love how he is bonding with the baby, that he works so hard for us, that he takes great care of us, that he constantly encourages me.
5. Take advantage of any opportunity for a date night.
You can easily come up with excuses for why date nights can’t happen. But you almost always can come up with solutions, and that time doesn’t have to be long. We were so lucky to have family in town to relieve us for a bit so that we could get out. We also even got to go to a marrieds’ retreat, taking Nolan with us, while James’s mom took Theo for the weekend. Get creative! Date nights, weekend getaways, even just alone time at the house can happen, and it helps a lot.
6. Have time with friends who have been there.
This is for later down the road, not right when baby arrives. It helps to have friends who know what you’re going through, and can give some outside perspective. It’s funny, but I don’t even realize how independent I can become from James. I can function on my own to take care of the kids, and when he gets home from his job, we work together as teammates. It wasn’t until he brought up feeling distant in time with some of our close friends that I realized how little I’d been putting into our marriage. Their advice helped us get back on track.
Note: there’s a lot of things that can cause a busy season in your life other than a baby. Things like a new job, deadlines, family responsibilities, one spouse being in school, etc. These tips may apply. But I write from this perspective since this is the season I am in 😉
What tips can you give about keeping your marriage strong with a new baby, or in any kind of busy season of life?