It’s a genre that often goes unwritten. Or, at least, when I was desperate I couldn’t find it. How do you love your husband, grow in your marriage, and… last? without leaving the kids and parenting laurels behind.
My Mom always tells me that “the best gift you can give your kids is a healthy marriage” And, I wholly agree with that, and keep it close to my heart. But after spending a weekend dating every day, for four days (!!), we drove home and talked about how that felt.
Good? yes. Fun? yes. Sad? yes. Hard? yes. Fulfilling? yes. Worth it? . . . silent.
We went on four dates between Thursday-Monday, and they were all fun and amazing (kidless runs in the park, dinner somewhere fancy, a beautiful wedding, and another great run) but we saw our kids getting more tired, more ready for some family time (with us and the grandparents!), and a little sick of saying “bye bye Mama. Mama goes bye bye.” and it brought up some feelings for us both. As our marriage is in a joy filled and easy season, and has been for sometime, the dates were like a cherry on top. One was needed, and three were icing. But what have we been doing that has gotten us there? Why did it not feel worth it?
Dating is important, but it’s not the only path to a loving, full, intimate, successful marriage. But it is often the only real advice given when you google “how to stay married even after a baby” (yeah, I googled that once. it was a low moment.) Sometimes, when the bickering hits a breaking point, the cues go unnoticed, and the communication is quieter than the kids. . . you need something. But maybe that something isn’t what I thought.
Charlie and I have a lean towards Attachment Parenting and Unconditional Parenting, but read a lot of books and pull from a lot of places and don’t follow anyone thing dogmatically. But, in general, our philosophy goes with the golden rule; Treat others how you would like to be treated. And, kids are people too. And, I guess, I also lean to the idea that these years are short (really really really short) and it’s okay for me to endure some big self sacrifice in order to be wholly present in those birth-three years, even if its tiresome and hard, it is (and has been) incredibly worth it to me.
So, with that, having the only advice out there be “ditch the kids!” Be that, out of your bed, on dates, on weekends away, etc. All the articles/books/info I came across always seemed to herald alone time as the only means to love. And, I disagree. I think that there are times when that is, obviously, very needed. When stuff gets tough, conversations need to be had, and they need to be had away from tiny ears. And, dates are amazing! I love them! But, I don’t think, in any way, are they the only way.
I’ve been wanting to write about this, to bring to light a few ways that Charlie and I stay connected and growing in love and understanding of marriage and each other, but felt like maybe there isn’t an ear for it. But I’m going to plunge anyway.
A dear friend came for a playdate today. The kind of friend who asks good questions, and wants to hear the answers. And, a fellow writer, there is something kindred in that. She and I were talking about writing, and about how she would like to write a book, and I followed up with “oh yes! me too!” in kinda of a “bucket list” and “one day” kind of way. But the truth is that in that admission I put to words a dream I’ve only voiced to Charlie. I’ve been aching to write a book about how to have a marriage that is thriving while still being a very attached and conscious parent. I wouldn’t want to write a book, fully, about this until I’ve parented for long (I’m basically just a baby mom!). But I think the time is here for me to own that dream a bit, and to start getting my ideas to paper.. or screen. And start with the early years, the young children years, the years I am the thick of. When there are little limbs stuck to my side, and sweaty hairs wrapped around my arm while they sleep so sound. The years of being ‘over touched’ and under appreciated.
So, I guess, this is my forward. My outline. My rough drafts. My thoughts. It’s all raw, and new, and weird. And I think needed and important.