Having a baby has changed my life completely in every single way. Nothing has changed more than my marriage. In some ways, that is amazing. I have never loved my husband more as I do when I see him with our baby. He is sweet, silly, comforting, and so full of love. I love seeing this side of him and love watching our little family grow together. But, having a small, helpless baby means he takes top priority almost all the time right now. Which often means other things take a backseat. Yet, I refuse to let my marriage to take a backseat permanently. Instead, I fight every single day to continue to make it a priority.
My husband and I have been a couple for over ten years. We've only been parents for a few months. We've had time to build our foundation as a couple to be strong, to figure each other out, and support each other and our endeavors in life. Yet, no matter how strong our relationship may be, no matter how well we know each other, no matter how much we support one another, a baby still changes that. Each day, I discover brand new things about myself and how I want to live life now that a baby is a part of it. In many ways, it is easy to make these discoveries and change and adapt together as a mom and dad and as a family as a whole. But, as a husband and wife, it can be hard. It means as we change and adapt to being a family, it often means adapting to the baby's feeding or sleeping schedule (or lack thereof). Which often means forfeiting time to go out or to be together just the two of us.
Sometimes close quarters with a helpless baby, especially when they're extra crabby or fighting sleep, change me in ways I don't want to change. Like snapping at my husband even when he's trying to help. (I blame lack of sleep on everyone's account). It means that little things that used to be no big deal to resolve, suddenly feel monumental. Like deciding whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher. A silly spat in the past can easily turn into a true fight, if we let it. Simply because we are both tired, stressed, and trying to get things done, while also being present with the baby.
These new roles come with a lot of pressure. Pressure not to screw all of it up. Pressure to get baby to sleep well, eat well, grow well. It puts pressure on us to be smart with our time, smart with our money, smart in general (as if we should have parenting figured out immediately). We definitely feel the pressure of trying to help baby grow and develop properly, while also trying to just deal with the normal pressure and stress of life. It could easily break the strongest couple, if you let it.
Yet, every single day, I fight for us as a couple. To fight through the stress, the pressure, the hard parts to find us again. The us from before can never be exactly the same. But, us as a couple can still very much exist. We are more than just mom and dad. Some days, that is hard. Some days it's easiest just to assume our roles as mom and dad and then just pass out. But, I know how easily it can be to let that continue on and on and suddenly you have no other identity beyond that.
I refuse to let that happen because that's when the pressure and stress and being a parent feels insurmountable. When the hard days become so magnified that you can't see past it. Instead, I try every day to remember we are more than just mom and dad. I try to remember to talk to my husband about life besides baby. Even if it's just a few minutes at a time and isn't about anything especially important. In fact, it's better that way. Sharing a funny story or stupid joke helps relieve some of those other stresses. I try to remember that he needs hugs, and cuddles, and kisses just as much as baby does. So, even if it's just as we are exhaustedly flopping into bed, I try to remember to how important that part of a marriage is.
As our baby gets older, he is becoming (slightly) more predictable. It is getting easier to carve out time to be just the two of us again. Or to just be our individual selves doing the solo hobbies we once loved. I fight for those small silvers of time for us - the couple moments and the individual moments. Because if we can get those small silvers of time, it helps us in every area of life. We don't become so consumed with only baby. Instead, our couple selves get a little stronger. Our individual selves get a little stronger. It helps us communicate better and be on the same page, so that the little, insignificant spats stay little and insignificant.
Even as it gets easier, we still have to fight for us to adapt as things continue to change. It means we find creative ways to have date nights at home, to show each other small, romantic gestures amongst the chaos, to remember to continually show affection on a regular basis. It means figuring out new ways to keep the romance alive. But, we keep showing up every single day to parent, so we also show up every single day to be a husband and a wife too.
As I am learning the ropes as a parent, I am also learning the ropes of being a wife in a new capacity. It isn't always perfect. Our relationship doesn't always get the attention it deserves. Sometimes baby wakes up just as soon as we get a minute alone. But, we are trying. Every day we are figuring out a balance. It involves work, communication, and patience. Just like parenting. But, it is so worth it. I'll continue to fight to make my marriage a priority every single day. Even when it's hard. Because being a family means recognizing we are more than just mom and dad.