This year Tommy and I will celebrate 5 years of marriage! We’ve experienced so much together throughout the last five years. From navigating the early days of marriage, surgeries, graduate school, new jobs, buying a house, and most recently, the birth of our son. This last year has been an exciting one, but it has not been without challenges as we entered into the world of parenthood. Having a baby has impacted our relationship like no other thing we have experienced thus far in our marriage.
As new parents, the early days were really just about getting to know our baby boy while functioning on very little sleep and energy. For me, most of my time was consumed with learning the ends and out of breastfeeding and caring for Jaden. When he wasn’t holding the baby or changing diapers, Tommy was doing what comes naturally to him, getting things done. Being the “doer” that he his, Tommy often filled his time with completing household tasks and running errands. At times I found myself getting frustrated because I felt like I was stuck at home while Tommy got a “break.” In addition, I desired for Tommy to just “be” with us, instead of “doing” so much. As time went on and demands on us increased due to work and other commitments, it eventually began to feel like we were operating independently of one another, not together, as husband and wife should. For me, that was a sad reality to come to grips with and it took me a long time to talk about what I was feeling with anyone, including Tommy.
Having a baby brought significant change to our lives so it was only natural to expect that our relationship would change as well. However, I think I (we) underestimated the impact that a baby would really have on us. As I reflect back on those early months, I realize now that the frustrations Tommy and I experienced after having Jaden were the result of a lack of communication and focus on one another. We were unsuccessful at sharing our feelings, setting set realistic expectations for one another, and spending quality time together as we made the transition into parenthood.
For me, the month of February was a pivotal time. In my spare time I enjoy reading Christian blogs and websites and throughout the entire month of February everything I was reading was focused on marriage and relationships. In addition, our church went through a sermon series called “Realationships” and even hosted a marriage conference. You may think this was just coincidence because February is traditionally all about love, but the Lord really used all that I was reading, hearing, and experiencing to speak to me. I felt challenged to put forth effort to share what I was feeling with Tommy and do my part to better my marriage.
As a mom, so much of my attention has been focused on Jaden, which is not a bad thing. My son needs and deserves my attention. However, I now realize that at times I neglected to give my husband the attention he needs and deserves as well. I have learned that managing both of these relationships is a balancing act, one that I’m not sure that I will ever truly master, but I want to make sure I’m doing the best that can.
The past few months have taught me even with this new role of being a mom, I can’t forget about us (me and Tommy). Marriage is our first ministry and we have to take time to truly invest in our relationship if we want to continue to grow together. One of the speakers at our church marriage conference shared this quote by Dr. Gary Chapman,
“Marriages either grow or regress. They never stand still.”
I want my marriage to continue to grow through whatever circumstances life throws our way. It’s important that we are good models for our son. I want Jaden to understand the importance of marriage and commitment and I want him to see love and growth in our household.
After talking with each other and seeking advice from some married friends, one thing Tommy and I have committed to doing is planning time to hang out with one another each week to ensure that we are able to spend quality time together in the midst of our busyness. Each Sunday afternoon we come together to review our weekly schedules and plan when we will set aside time to hang out. So far this has helped us be more intentional about the time we spend together and we look forward to seeing the future impact this practice has on our marriage.
If you are married or hope to be married one day, I hope that after reading this you are encouraged to remember your spouse. Don’t forget about each other. As you go through various seasons of life, work hard at keeping each other first. Even if it means scheduling in quality time. Also remember, we are all a work in progress. Even if we get off track there is always an opportunity to make things right again.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”