Taking Care of Your Marriage

By: Abby Keane

Throughout the 9 months or so that this blog has been live, we have had many entries about taking care of our kids – it is a Mommy Blog after all.  We have also had many entries related to taking care of ourselves – taking the time out to enjoy something just for us, something that recharges our batteries and makes us better mommies.  But what about our marriages?  Shouldn’t we talk about what we can do to keep one of our most important relationships functioning and healthy?

So often, our marriage falls to the bottom of the list when our resources (time, energy, money, what have you) are being doled out.  Why???  The relationship between the parents really is the cornerstone of the whole family.  No matter how small they are, kids know when something is off between mom and dad, and they react accordingly.

Long before our children were born, my husband and I came to the realization that probably should have been obvious even before we were married, but it took us a while to figure out, that marriage is WORK.  Every single day, it’s work.  Each day, we have to choose to be married, be a partnership, and work together for the betterment of our family.  And, sad to say, for many (most?) couples that seems to be one of the first things that falls to the wayside when other work arises.

My husband and I have been together almost 11 years, married for about five and a half.  Like every couple, we’ve had our share of ups and downs getting to where we are today.  We have two amazing sons, and it feels like the perfect little family.  But, it’s a whole lot of work, for both of us, all of the time.  We do, do, do for the kids all morning before work, we work all day, then do, do, and do some more for the kids once we’re home.  We’re happy to do it, and wouldn’t have it any other way, but it doesn’t leave much time for each other while all that is going on.

There’s always after the kids are in bed, you say?  But once the teeth are finally brushed, and everyone has snuggled, and the last drops of bottle drunk, there’s still more work to be done.  There’s lunch to be packed, if it’s a daycare day, there’s laundry to do, toys to clean up, bottles to wash, bills to pay, blog entries to write.  And when all of that is finally done, we collapse on the couch to watch some mindless tv, and, to be quite honest, I’m usually asleep on the couch not too much later.  But what about date nights?  Well, lately, those just haven’t happened.  As I’ve mentioned before, we’re lucky enough that both grandmothers watch the kids two and one day(s) each week, respectively.  That does make it difficult, though, to ask them to then give up their weekend time to watch the kids again, and we’re not really comfortable with leaving them with non-family members yet.

So, what do we do in our house to take care of us and our marriage?  Well, the honest answer right now is, not much.  This is not to say we’ve been a screaming, fighting, angry household.  We haven’t been at all.  We’ve really just been a tired household – one with sick kids, sick parents, and lots of exhaustion.  And, the first thing we let go was taking care of each other.  We bickered about who was doing more – who had changed the last diaper, who had made the last meal, who should clean the cat box.  We reminded Finn how important it is to say “Please” and “Thank You” when asking for something, but forgot to say it to each other.  We grew to expect things of the other – emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, changing the diapers – and forgot to acknowledge that every action is a choice, and every choice that helps the family should be appreciated.

So, we’re working on it.  We’re taking baby steps.  And some days are great, and we seem to have really made strides in being grateful for each other.  And some days suck, and we demand rather than ask, and sulk rather than enjoy each others’ company at the end of the day.  But, as long as the balance is slowly tipping in favor of the good days, it’s progress.

Just last week, a small toy company that I follow on twitter tweeted a link to a brilliant blog post on just this subject.  I was about halfway through composing this entry, and it was just so timely and perfect to share in this context: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/09/766/.  I don’t know this blogger, and, in fact, had never read her before this link, but it’s a beautiful entry and speaks so well to what I think many marriages go through after having kids.

What do all of you do to take care of your marriages?  How do you balance your adult time with your kid time?  Who pours the first glass of wine in your house?

3 thoughts on “Taking Care of Your Marriage

  1. Great post. Having been divorced, twice, I think the idea that marriage is work and that it is important to take care of each other is easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of little kids and daily life. Now that my kids are older, they present their own issues, but one of the nice things is that they are old enough to leave home for a couple hours if my husband and I want to go to dinner alone, or even make a run to the hardware story without complaining kids with us. (as they get older, they whine less, complain more). With my husbands travel, we often go weeks and months without seeing each other. I think the biggest piece of advice I can give anyone is don’t let the little annoying things become more important than the big things in your relationship. Keep your girl/guy friends too…no one person can be everything to another. Cut each other some slack. And keep a sense of humor. Some times life can be overwhelming frustrating and ridiculous and if both of you can recognize that and share a laugh about it, it goes a long way.

  2. Great job, Abby. This should resonate with every couple raising children. I particularly appreciate the part about negotiating who does what. For me and Kevin, that kind of happens automatically- I do the bath, he does the book reading. But, man, do I get frustrated if he misses his part. 🙂
    I hope that these blog entries are a release for you and a way to put your mommy experience into a certain context. I have greatly enjoyed reading them and connecting with you after a couple years. Hopefully, you can find a sitter at some point. We have a high school student that we found and it’s so nice to be able to go out to a movie or dinner once a month. We, like you, do not like to burden our day care provider (my mom). Although, once the baby gets here in March, I am guessing that date nights will take a back seat for a while.

  3. My husband and I have pretty much come to the realization that we cannot fit “couple time” into the mix in our current stage of life — we are either not home at the same time or busy with the kids — and “after the kdis are asleep” often has one of asleep, too. However, we also realize it’s important to keep working on our marriage. So, our current solution is two notebooks: One for home/management type ideas, questions and whatnot and one for more relationship, big idea sharing, etc. We handwrite and respond to entries in these when we have a few moments. It helps keep some personal communication going even when personal time together is lacking.

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