By Mary Sauer
It was two months after the birth of my second child and my husband and I were sitting in the corner booth. We were sharing the appetizer we've always shared, but it just didn't feel like old times.
In fact, this was our first date after having our second baby and being alone together was feeling new and awkward. We sat silently across from each other, dipping waffle fries in queso dip and watching people walk by the restaurant's window.
I'm tired; I have nothing to say; I have no stories to tell. We spent most of the evening sitting in silence, him glancing at the baseball game at the bar and me people watching.
Occasionally, a story came to mind. I relayed a play-by-play of our toddler's antics from earlier in the day; we laughed and returned to our silence. By the end of the date, I wondered -- after 5 years and 2 kids, were our children all we had in common?
We married young. I just turned 20 and he was only two years older. We were babies, and we were having our own babies not long after that. So much has changed in our life in the short time since we were married.
Some experts believe that more personality change happens during the 20s than any other decade of our life. At 26, I could see how this would be true.
When our second baby arrived a year ago, my husband and I had been married for five years. We were both in the midst of a career change and we weren't the same people who said "I do" at the altar of his childhood church.
It's been a little more than a year since our first post-baby date, and not a lot has changed. We just celebrated year six this weekend and I'm still finding myself fumbling for talking points at dinner or during a long drive.
I worry sometimes that time and motherhood has made me boring. Has all this personality change been good or has it made me a dull date night companion?
What else can I say besides something about the worst diaper change ever or that cute thing our baby did while he was at work?
It's not any one person's fault that our marriage sometimes feels like it's been reduced to conversations concerning childcare, chores, and money. The last several years have been incredibly full, but they've been full of good things -- new babies, long awaited new jobs, a new home.
Still, these things monopolize our time, energy, and attention, and more often than not our time alone consists of dozing on the couch before heading to bed early.
Here's the thing -- it's not as bad as it seems. Children aren't a bad thing to have in common. We built this family together and so, of course, the nature of our relationship was bound to evolve after their arrival.
It's completely acceptable if my marriage is less exciting during those seasons of life. I'm not insecure in my marriage. I know my husband is committed to loving me for the long haul. I know he's on my team for good (even when I'm too tired to form a coherent sentence).
And I hope he knows I feel the same about him. I don't need him to entertain me or always have something interesting to say.
Still, I would be naive to believe it's alright for our marriage to continue on this way. It may be completely normal to center our lives around parenthood for a time, but if our marriage is going to hold up for the long term, that time has to be short.
As wonderful as parenthood is, we cannot build our marriage around our children. Raising children is hard work.
We need something else to hang our hats on when things aren't going well. And children grow up -- eventually it'll be just the two of us again and I don't want to find myself living with a stranger when that times comes.
So, while it may be true that this feeling is normal and it isn't really any one person's fault that my husband and I are struggling to find ways to connect in our new life with kids, it's my fault if I let things stay this way.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what moving forward from here looks like for us, but I can feel that it's time to move forward. Maybe it's as simple as taking time to go for a walk alone once or twice a week, reading a book together, or making notes in my phone of talking points before a date.
Perhaps it will take more work. Maybe we'll find ourselves in counseling for the first time.
Either way, the postpartum fog may finally be lifting and now is the time for me to take responsibility for my role in this marriage; now is the time for me to lean in.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
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