Outlet plugs. Cabinet latches. Baby gates.
Typical baby proofing. But what about your marriage? This past year has been an exercise of trial and error in all realms of our life, and our marriage has been no exception. Thankfully there haven’t been any major errors, but throwing a baby into the mix undoubtedly requires an adjustment.
So let’s talk about it.
engagement photo, credit: mandy harlow
1. Date your partner
Dating your partner before you have kids is easy – almost effortless; but once you have a baby (especially during that first year) it requires a bit of effort.
I wasn’t a fan of unsolicited advice during my pregnancy, but one great tip we received was to sit down and make a list of the top 5-ish things that we enjoyed doing together. When the baby turns 6 months old (aka: you start to resemble a human being once again), take out the list and start doing all those things. Some of our favorite pre-baby activities included going out to nice restaurants, visiting local wineries, and traveling. Obviosuly, some of those are easier to accomplish than others, but the point is to make time to connect with one another as partners, not parents.
2. Set goals
Every year on our anniversary, we sit down and set goals for the upcoming year of marriage (my cousins Michael and Sarah gave us this idea, and we LOVE it.) The first set of goals are personal ones, and we basically say “these are the things I want to accomplish this year, and I need your support to achieve them.”
The second set of goals are relationship ones. We take time to reflect on what’s gone really well in the past year, and what we’d like to improve upon.
I always write down our goals and hang them in our bedroom so we can see them every day. It’s a valuable exercise, and I appreciate that it allows us to focus on our individual selves and our relationship.
3. Give the gift of alone time
I am the #1 fan of family time, but I’ve learned that parenthood can be a soul-sucking experience if you don’t create time to take care of yourself. Not You, Mom or You, Wife. Just YOU.
My marriage is stronger when Cory and I have time away from it all. Cory loves spending time woodworking in the garage, and I enjoy going out to dinner with girlfriends. It’s nothing extravagant, a few hours here and there, but we each come back from our alone time recharged, happy, and present.
4. An attitude of gratitude
During this first year of parenthood, I’ve found that if you’re not careful, it’s so easy to keep score or resent your partner (and that’s dangerous.)
When I find myself focusing on what I’ve done on any given day, I know I need an attitude adjustment. For example, if I find myself feeling resentful that my husband gets to go to work and I’m stuck taking care of the baby all day, I flip my inner dialogue and reframe it to a statement of gratitude. I truly am so thankful for my husband and his job, both of which afford me the opportunity to stay home, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
I try my best to express my gratitude every single day; and you know what? It’s always reciprocated, and then I feel like a million bucks.
Adjusting to life with a baby takes time, effort, and whole lot of grace. I’d love to hear how YOU have baby-proofed your marriage!