Time and time again, I hear news stories and read magazine articles about how kids ruin marriage. And how marital happiness decreases after children. It all seems so doom and gloom, like these married with children people are up the creek without a paddle in the Lake of Unhappiness before diving off the Cliff of Divorce.
Why does it have to be this way? And why does everyone think that once kids come along, marriage must become the Pit of Despair?
It is true, that being married gets harder. But so does everything else. Heck, taking a shower requires Herculean effot.
When I was pregnant, I read tons and tons of junk on raising a baby and breastfeeding and vaginal deliveries. I was all schooled up on how to take care of a baby and my post partum body. But I knew nothing of what it takes to take care of a marriage once that baby comes along. And, really, that would have been the most helpful thing to read up on.
I read recently that having a baby is akin to having an affair. And I totally understand that. My brain is constantly thinking KATE KATE KATE KATE KATE. IT NEVER QUITS. KATE KATE KATE KATE. It is as if all systems in my body are hardwired to keep tabs on that kid. Good thing, too, because I suppose that is how babies stay alive and the human race continues. My brain is so sharply atuned to Kate that I possess this sixth sense about her - the old "eyes in the back of the head" adage. I can sense when she is going to wake up from a nap, I can feel when she is hungry, I anticipate how she will react in certain situations.
Kate and I are deeply intertwined in a complex relationship. Just us two. And I gladly give myself over to her - mind, body, and spirit.
All this to say, working on marriage becomes that much harder. Carving out time for a relationship beyond just roomates and co-baby care givers seems darn near impossible. What more can anyone expect from two people? We can barely shower over here!
But Dan and I are nothing if not determined. And we particularly dislike this notion that marriages have to fall apart and be all Land of Unhappiness when kids come. So this past month, we decided to work extra hard on being a couple instead of a couple of parents.
We started putting Kate to bed earlier. We declared that 7 p.m. is now Adult Time. We watch TV together in peace. We share a snack. We talk about other stuff besides our beloved baby. We make time for Adult Activities.
And we do things as a family. Fun things. We take walks and go shopping and eat out. Most of all we laugh about our Parenting Mishaps of which there are many.
Parenting is not always fun. It is exhausting and emotionally draining. Oftentimes I feel like I just cannot give any more. Like it would be physically painful to possibly share anymore of myself with another person. But somehow I find some last bit of energy to be a wife. I come half way and Dan meets me in the middle. And everyday we work on being a couple. Because the best gift I can give Kate is two parents who love each other. And the best gift Dan and I can give to each other is support. And I know he's got my back in any poop explosion.
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