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This can be a highly controversial issue in the mommyverse. Keyboard warriors clutch their pearls when they read blog posts like this. I mean, our kids are supposed to be our entire world, aren’t they? That’s the notion we, as women, are practically born with. It’s innate, down to the fibers of our soul, and if we don’t agree… Well, I guess that says a little about the kind of mother we must be. Marriage is supposed to come second, of course.
The truth about marriage
Sorry, but as I typed that last sentence, my eyes rolled pretty far into the back of my head. I’m gonna drop a truth bomb. These little bundles of joy that we would throw ourselves in front of a bus for wouldn’t even exist without our partner. (I am not taking into account single parents who use sperm/egg donors. I am specifically speaking to couples who have biological children together, which I’m guessing fits the majority of circumstances.)
Again, without your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend, that beautiful baby that you are told you are supposed to put first would not even exist without the genetic material of your partner. I think that is pretty damn awesome, and many times we don’t give our partners enough credit.
As soon as kids enter the picture, we get so caught up in the parenting gig. Marriage kind of takes a back seat. Diapers, bottles, bed times, laundry… Oh, the laundry… Play dates, school plays, school projects. It is so easy to let parenthood become the biggest part of your life. Sometimes, it can be so time-consuming and heart-consuming that we find ourselves neglecting the person who gave us that child to love in the first place.
Last weekend, my husband and I went out of town for the weekend. We went to Chicago and stayed in a nice hotel. We ate meals we didn’t have to share bites of. Parenting win: we even turned off our alarm clocks. We watched crap TV without being worried about what the kids will repeat. We met David Tennant. (True story!)
Questions you as a skeptic might have
- Didn’t you miss your kids?
- Do you worry that they might wonder why they didn’t go with?
- What if they were upset?
- Yes, of course. But we both needed to get away. My husband works a lot and I, well, am a mother of two small children. I am with them all day and any mother that reads this knows how draining that can be. We are like a smart phone. Full of awesome potential, but if it doesn’t get charged occasionally, it’s not going to work right.
- Not really. Ours are probably too young to ask questions. As they get older, it’s possible they might ask questions. But I will tell them the same thing I’m about to tell you: When my girls are adults (if they decide to have children), I want them to know that they are more than mothers. They are them. They were whole, entire, wonderful people before those children entered the world. That sense of self demands regular maintenance so it doesn’t get lost in a pile of dirty laundry.
- I’m guessing they weren’t. They were getting spoiled by grandma.
We had a blast! We had the chance to be Jen and Ken. Not just Mama and Dada, and Butt-wiper, and Paycheck-bringer-homer, and Food-cooker, and Channel-changer, and Snuggle-buddy, and Bedtime-enforcer. We were us. That is invaluable. Truly. You cannot put a price on that.
Things to remember about marriage
Being a parent is so incredible. I could not put into words the love I have for my children. It has made me a better person, and that love is deeper than I thought humanly possible. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t get to know what that love feels like if not for my husband. Our relationship needs to be nurtured just as much as our children do. If you do not nurture your children, there is a part of them that does not develop properly, and is irreversibly damaged. The same is true for your relationship.
Repeat after me: I will nurture my relationship. I will nurture my relationship.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or money. Give yourself a goal of once a month if time is tight. Get yourself a sitter for 3 hours once a month. I think that is something all couples can manage. If not, think about how you spent your time over the course of last month. What can you cut out so that you can make your relationship a priority just once every 30 days? Can you cut out one Netflix binging session for the sake of your marriage?
Date night ideas
Are you bored of the typical dinner and a movie? Try one of these ideas instead:
- Weather permitting, go on a picnic and then swing on the swings at the park
- Walk around an art museum
- Try an Escape Room
- Go to a Wine and Paint class
- Go to the zoo
- Put on a movie at home, put it on mute and make your own dialogue
There really are so many options. The question is: Can you let go of an idea that is so deeply culturally ingrained, and re-align your thinking? Your relationship will thank you.
Looking for a way to reconnect with your spouse? I highly recommend the book “The 5 Love Languages.” It has been integral in my understanding of the way my husband thinks I also recommend a good book about the Enneagram. (Any Enneagram fans out there? I am a 4w5!)
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