When you first realize you love someone romantically, it’s like a spark has been lit in your heart. The more time you spend with that someone, the more this spark is fueled, and before long your whole heart is set ablaze with love.
I tried coming up with a more original reference than fire, but honestly, it’s just so fitting.
Just as this love-fire is fueled by every little thing your someone does at first, so too is it dampened by the strains of responsibility and stress.
I’ve been finding myself missing my old fire more and more, lately.
My husband and I first officially got together when we were 19, just a month shy of his 20th birthday. That will make an entire decade next year from when my life was first changed forever.
Just like any fresh young couple, we couldn’t get enough of each other back then. We both lived with our parents at the time, so we jumped at each and every opportunity to be together. We grossed out all of our friends with our syrupy sweet PDA.
Those were the five alarm blaze days.
Then just a little over 4 years after we first got together, after a year-long engagement, we got married. We spent our newlywed years working and putting away money, throwing parties with our friends at our apartment, and drinking Bud Light Platnium and playing Gamecube on Saturdays.
Of course there were challenges to being around one another all the time. We quickly learned which quirks and eccentricies we didn’t care for in each other, and with the pressure of mortgage and career changes on us, we began to have more disagreements. But with relatively few pressures aside from that, we were still very much on fire.
And then, not even two years after we said “I Do,” we said hello to our first son, and not even two years after that, we welcomed his baby brother. While it was terrifying getting used to being responsible for a tiny human being, these two have added a beautiful, loving dynamic to our relationship that we wouldn’t change for the world.
In the midst of all of this, my husband has been a business owner, and recently has taken on the role full time.
And although we are humbled by the blessings that are our sons and his business, I won’t lie, it’s been rough on our relationship.
It scares me to say that for a while there, I’d felt my fire start to turn to embers.
Handling two under two has been relatively easy for me, with the exception of some bad days here and there. But, as you can imagine, it takes up all of my time. I’ve touched on how I’ve struggled to maintain my own identity outside of motherhood in a previous post, but I feel it’s just as important to hang on to who you and your significant other were before children. While Mom and Dad are incredibly significant roles, Husband and Wife are just as much so.
I read somewhere that tragically 2/3 of couples report significant unhappiness in their relationships within 18 months to three years of the birth of their first children. And even more tragic, many of these relationships ultimately end in divorce.
And as much as I hate to say it, I get it.
Between doing all you can to keep your child(ren) alive and well, keeping up whatever household tasks you can, making sure bills get paid and rent/mortgage is good for the month, performing at your job, and trying desperately to keep up with friends and family and their needs, marriage/relationships often fall in the cracks.
If you think of these things in terms of the analogy we used earlier, it’s almost like each of these things are like heavy wet leaves, dampening the flame that was burning so strong before. And if you’re not careful, the flame can go out altogether.
Like I mentioned before, I had been seeing these things in my own relationship with my husband. Not too long ago, we were going through a rough patch where we got into arguments almost daily, and while I can’t speak for him entirely, I think we both got a little bit resentful of each other.
I know the pressure has been real for my husband with his business. And though he works so hard each and every day, he still takes time to be an amazing Dad.
But I won’t lie, I had been feeling just a little bit neglected.
I know there’s a ton of articles and blogs on how to keep a healthy marriage, and I may duplicate some of these points, but here are some “Best Practices” I had been trying to get over this turbulence and reignite my flame.
Talk It Out
It’s been said time and time again, but it’s worth mentioning once more–communication is key.
And not just when you have a disagreement. I mean conversation, like you used to have when you were dating. I’m talking those deep conversations you used to have in your significant other’s car until 6AM that made you fall ass over tea kettle in love.
We would talk about the house, the kids, the business plenty. All important things. But I’ve come to realize that we were starving for those old talks.
I’m trying to make it a point to talk with my husband about anything other than our daily work, even if I have to find a prompt online. Just talking has done wonders for us so far.
Put A Pin In It
I’m not proud of it, but I had gotten into the habit of saying some pretty mean things to my husband when we would argue. I would just get so aggravated and felt like I wasn’t being heard. And with Mom Brain in full force, I would have a hard time articulating what I wanted to say. So I would lash out.
I recognized this after a while and knew it wasn’t healthy for either of us. So now when we have a disagreement, I’ll let him know when I need a minute to collect my thoughts, and to walk away before I say something mean.
But if I’m mad enough, I’ve managed to change my approach from, “You’re such a (mean word here),” to “Why are you acting like a (mean word here)?”
This change in how I clap back prompts him to respond with, “I’m not,” and he’ll explain where he’s coming from. By doing this, I vent out some of my frustration, and I get to understand how he’s feeling and we are better able to smooth things over.
We used to be so affectionate when we were first dating, and physical affection is super important to my husband. I had been feeling a little bit detatched, so I was not reciprocating his attempts at affection, nor going out of my way to give any. Naturally, this put a rift in between us.
I don’t know about you, but being in the trenches with potty training, while caring for an infant and maintaining the organized chaos that is my home, along with my writing “work,” and the pressures of keeping up with a social life burns me out. At the end of the day, the last thing I want is the hand on my knee. You know the one…
I’ve been trying little things to remind my husband, and myself, that I’m still very much attracted to him and want to be close to him. Even if I’m not feeling particularly affectionate, I’ll try to hold his hand for a minute, or run my fingers through his hair. Or better yet, hug him.
Hugging releases oxytocin, a feel-good hormone. It’s good for you, and the person you’re hugging. I highly suggest asking your SO at random if you can give them a hug. It’s kind of like smiling even though you don’t want to.
Studies have shown that if you smile even though you’re not particularly happy, eventually it will actually make you feel happy. I feel like it’s the same thing with hugs and relationships. Even if you don’t feel particularly affectionate or loving, hugging for a little bit might make you actually feel loving. It’s been working for me.
Hi, my name is Melissa, and I’m a Social-MediAholic.
I have a social media addiction. My husband has a mobile-gaming addiction. When we’re not caring for children or building estimate for electrical work, you can find us with our noses in our smartphones.
Or at least, you used to.
I’ve recently started a social media fast, and it’s made a difference in the way I feel. It’s been bumming me out subconsciously, and I’ve been carrying it into other aspects of my life. Now that I’m not on it so much, I’m much more aware of what’s going on around me, and it’s made me more open with my husband.
I know social media can be an escape for some, and it’s a great tool in keeping up with relatives and old friends. I suggest limiting its use, though, and if you must be on it, try to involve your partner in what you’re looking at. If you don’t already, make it a conversation.
“Hey, did you see so-and-so is doing this? Maybe we should try that sometime!” Or, “Tell me you’ve seen this meme!”
Never. Stop. Dating.
I know this is easier said than done, especially the more kids you have, but I cannot stress enough the absolute importance of taking time to “date” your significant other.
Even with all that we have going on, my husband and I have agreed to try to carve out a certain time on a certain day each week just for us.
Childcare can be hard to come by, and with our budget a night on the town won’t be in the cards for a while. Regardless, we make our time and make the most of it, usually from the comfort of our own home.
Whether hanging out on our porch for an hour before the sun goes down, or making fun of a bad movie together after the kids are asleep, we use this time to be engaged with each other, with no distractions. It’s made a difference.
Say Thank You
I realize I struck absolute gold when I found my husband. As much as he irritates me sometimes, I really do see that I’ve been blessed with this man. He’s a hard worker, an amazing father, compassionate, funny, and gorgeous.
And I know once in a while he needs to be reminded of that.
I’ve tried to make it a point to thank him each day for something different, whether it’s for changing x amount of diapers that day, washing the dishes, or even for just being patient with me on a bad day. I realize how much he’s expressed his gratitude for me, and I used to thank him a lot more when we were dating and in the early days of our marriage. Now that I’ve brought it back, I see the changes it’s made in both our moods.
I recommend thanking your SO every day, even if it’s just for being them.
Love is a beautiful, blessed thing. It should never be taken for granted.
Sometimes, yes, it takes a little work. But everything that’s worth anything does.
What have you Mamas done to keep things fresh in your marriage/relationship? Any other words of wisdom? Let us know!
Thanks for reading, my gals! 😘😘
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