Monday, October 3, 2011

Taking Time for Each Other: Parents

A and I jumped into parenthood pretty fast.  We had L four months before our wedding (more on that situation later).  Consequently, as soon as we got back from our honeymoon, we needed to learn how to create couple time for ourselves with an infant to care for. In some ways, having to deal with baby-raising immediately was good for us.  We never had to let go of limitless alone time,  because we never had it in the first place! We were newly-married and knew we needed time minus baby to connect emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. 
At times it has been really hard.  Sometimes all we want to do is have a lazy afternoon, curl up and watch a movie together, but instead L is going nuts and requires our attention and energy.  We've learned that when we are craving time alone, we have to make each other a promise to be together as soon as the opportunity arises. It is something we started out vocalizing, which helped for me especially in feeling cared for, but now we don’t always need to spell it out for each other. Simply saying, “Hey tonight let’s just hang out,” is often all it takes to remind each other that we need to be together.  Now, when we know our relationship requires something more planned out, we can make that happen too.  For instance, if I suggest we go on a date on the weekend A knows this means we need to make it happen, and vice versa. We take date suggestions seriously, and make them happen quickly.
Here are some other key strategies for keeping our relationship healthy and well-tended:
Organization: For me, this often just means naming a time! We'll decide that Saturday night we will have an ‘us’ night--what we actually do together is less important than just setting the time aside.  Organization also comes into play when we are planning an out-of-house date (we tend to have lots of in-house dates). 
Spontaneity: Along with being organized, we have found spontaneity is key in maintaining our closeness.  This may sound like it is at odds with organization, but they're really both important! This means when L randomly takes a nap on a Saturday afternoon, we often run straight to the bedroom!  It means we make romance for each other in the little things: A might bring home a bottle of wine from work and ask if I want to take a bath that evening, or I will offer to give him a backrub while we are watching a movie.
Always put each other first: Most importantly, in the short time we’ve been married, we have striven to put our marriage first. Growing up, I saw lots of couples who let children take over their relationship. Obviously kids are a huge responsibility, and take up huge amounts of time, and a couple needs to take care of their children together. But we decided right away to allow the experience of raising kids to pull us together rather than apart. When L was about six months old, we decided it was of dire necessity that we get her into a more predictable sleep pattern; she wasn't going to bed until ten o'clock or later, and our relationship was suffering! We began trying out new ways to get her to sleep earlier and within a month were enjoying her new 7pm bedtime.
We are having a new baby in January, and I sometimes worry that with a two year old and a newborn we will have a hard time adjusting.  We will have less time for just each other, particularly in the first couple of months, but as long as we continue to prioritize each other and our time together, our alone time will feel that much more special.  I'll let you know how it goes!



  1. Great post! I totally agree about putting each other first! When I was co-sleeping with Joe, my husband wouldn't sleep with us because he was paranoid about rolling over Joe, and I totally respect his concerns. I soon came to realize that not sharing a bed was negatively affecting our relationship so we made the appropriate changes and are much happier!

  2. It's great that you are vocalizing and doing something about "dating", whether it's an in-house date or out. My hubby and I do a lot of in-house dates, but they are still special times regardless of location!
    Yay for spontaneity! :)

  3. @Maggie: Yes agreed! I think having kids can be so all consuming that it's easy to forget our primary vocation-marriage! Which is strangely similar to January's experience with infertility and refocusing on her marriage.

    @AIHPT(if I may:)): Yes, in house dates are so important! Lighting some candles and putting on some romantic music can make you feel like you are out together, or really just together.

  4. I like what you said about organization & spontaneity - you spelled out a lot of things that have worked for us, but I never thought to put them in those two categories. And I agree with you about the benefits that establishing good sleep habits for baby can bring to a marriage. We have been very formed by the Marriage Encounter model of putting your marriage first, even before kids, so that a strong marriage can be the foundation of your family's life. So for us, co-sleeping regularly never really worked (our babies never seemed to like it either) and after a few months we transitioned them to their own room so that we could have our sanctuary back! Different arrangements work for different families, but this has been great for us.