My husband and I were so happy and carefree before children. We took regular strolls hand-in-hand. Smashed many, many happy hours, followed by a quiet dinner. The weekends were magical days filled with whatever we wanted. We were so happy and madly in love.
Holy crap, did our lives change the day we became parents. Especially our relationship.
We went from cuddling to trading off sleeping and feeding. Our social life fell in the toilet. Nightly strolls were replaced by tag team rounds of getting a crying baby to sleep. Date nights turned into cold takeout we ended up eating separately because our baby would inevitably wake up as soon as the food arrived.
Sex. Um... Well... Who has time for sex when you have a new baby and every time you lay down you pass out?
This sad cycle carried on for at least a year before I started to realize how far apart my husband and I had grown. During that first year, we were working partners. Our lives revolved around our baby and work. We were so exhausted, the thought of a conversation was just too much to deal with. The hubs turned to his computer during his free time, while I would blog and write my short stories.
Then, the bickering started. Of course, there was a fair amount during the first year, but that was more fear of screwing up our baby. The second year, we bickered more because we were miserable and annoyed with the current state of our relationship.
It felt like everything had changed, including us.
The third year of our son's life, by far, was the most difficult. I said the word divorce twice. The hubs threatened to move back to Australia. It was ugly. Too many heated conversations happened in earshot of our son. It was absolutely awful. We focused all of our time and attention on our son and pretty much avoided each other.
I want to cry thinking about it. Which, I did a fair amount of too during those first three years. There were times, I really thought it was over.
I prayed and prayed. How could two people with the most magical story of meeting, who were so madly in love, turn into these miserable assholes passing in the night?
The saving grace was that, for all our fighting and differences, we had a few happy moments in-between, loved each other very much, and most of all, our son was beautiful, happy and healthy. At least we were doing something right as a couple.
Then, four months ago, our son turned four years old. Almost like magic, he became more independent. He was able to dress, get his own water and snacks, use the bathroom and solo-play... He demanded much less of our time. Leaving my husband and I more time to work on us.
At first, when trying to work through differences, we bickered and talked at each other. It was clear, the last few years had taken its toll on our relationship. We were both angry and hurt. Essentially, we had put our relationship on the back burner. That being said, we never really had to 'work' at our relationship before becoming parents, so it was something we had to figure out. Together.
It took time, but we worked to re-open a line of communication, which, was essential. We agreed that we've both really sucked at being a couple, but that we were still super in love, so all was not lost. We both made an effort to talk, cuddle, find things we can enjoy doing together... And what's proved to be a game changer, once a month date night to get away and reconnect.
Our lives will never be the same as our pre-parent days. Going through this, sometimes dark and sad, process with my husband has taught me that having a happy family, marriage and personal life takes work and balance. LOTS OF IT. The key is to work on each, equally. The further things slide, the harder it is to pull them up again...