This is a question that seems to be a hot topic in a lot of the mom groups I’m in. Understandably so. Relationships after baby are HARD. You don’t have as much time to nourish them. You barely have enough time for yourself let alone another person.
My hubby and I are still technically newlyweds so I sought the advice of some more experienced women and here is what they had to say…
1. How long have you and your spouse been married? How long were you together before you got married?
Sarah: Aaron and I have been married for 4 years, and we got married just shy of 2 years of knowing each other.
Brittany: My husband and I met our first week of college and started dating that September. I told him that I didn’t want to date until sophomore year, but after hanging out with him for a while, I told him September 10th that I was ready to date with him. The night of September 11th, after a weird encounter of some girls from my dorm speeding down the parking lot we were walking along screaming “Help! Some crazy person is after us,” and then seeing that indeed, they were being chased by a crazy person, he asked me if we were a couple. I looked at him like he was crazy and said, “I thought we were, yesterday.” Then we walked back and filled out a police report for the car chase. We dated for three years and have been married for 10 on August 16th.
Aseneth: My spouse and I have been married for one year but have been together since 2006.
2. How many children do you have?
Sarah: 2 precious baby girls
Brittany: We have three children. We wanted them spaced two years apart so my oldest son, who is most like me, is eight, my daughter, who is a good mix of both of us is six, and my youngest son, who looks just like his daddy, is four.
Aseneth: We have two young, fun loving babies. A daughter who is 5 and a son who is 2, they could not be more different.
3. What do you think is the biggest challenge is about keeping a relationship alive and thriving in the midst of life and parenting?
Sarah: The biggest challenge is not falling into “roommate status.” It’s so easy to become so focused on the kids and living the day to day that you forget to take time for each other and cultivate your relationship.
Brittany: I think for many, they would say that finances is the hardest or figuring out a balance when it comes to raising the kids, but the biggest challenge in marriage for me is not taking your spouse for granted. It may not be entirely noticeable, but sometimes, you forget how much that they’ve done for you. I know that with me, I can start feeling sorry for myself. When my youngest child was born, I left my job to stay home with him because child care for one child is expensive, but three is outrageous. I really enjoyed working. I liked seeing the results of what I did, getting the constant feedback that I was doing great at my job. I liked socializing with my co-workers and being a part of something. I love my children, dearly, but I need to interact with other adults or I go will go crazy. When I get sad, I find that I don’t always clean like I should, or I get snippy with everything I hear. I forget that my husband works in a stressful environment and that when he gets home, he wants to be able to relax. We both need to have time to unwind and adjust, but someone has to watch the kids, too, so we start to nitpick each other.
Aseneth: I believe there are a few challenges that a marriage is confronted with. A few that I can think of are communication, agreeing on money, and finding the time to continue “dating” each other.
4. How do you combat these challenges?
Sarah: Communicate! It’s crucial in any relationship to be able to effectively communicate.
Brittany: The way that we’ve fixed this is practice and prayer. I’ve been doing a better job at keeping the house and incorporating the kids into helping. When I get angry or feel like I’m not being valued, instead of yelling about it, I take a deep breath and say how I’m feeling in a low voice. When he sees that I’m overwhelmed with the kids, he asks me to go to my room and take a break. I read a book or watch something on the tv. Recognizing how your spouse is feeling and learning how to approach it is key. I used to yell because that’s what my family did. We yelled our feelings and arguments and then we loved each other ten minutes later. My husband needs to hear what I have to say, process it, and then approach our conversation again. If you have to argue, don’t argue in front of the kids and when it comes to the kids, do not undermine the other parent. If one tells a kid something or tries to discipline them without you, do not tell the other parent that you disagree with them in front of the child. Tell them afterward and figure out a better way to incorporate the discipline together. Don’t give a child a punishment that the other parent is forced to enforce without asking them first…. *cough*takingawaytvpriveledges*cough*grounding*cough*. It’s been 10 years of marriage and we’re still learning to master this.
Aseneth: First and foremost I believe it takes two people with the “will” to want to be better. Complacency in marriage is a dead end. One person can constantly be evolving and looking for ways to better their marriage but what’s it all for if their partner doesn’t want any part of it? I do think initially, there has to be one person who sets the tone for change. This person can start the hard conversations, they can show a change of attitude, in other words the catalyst for change to come. But ultimately it takes two.
5. What is the one of the best ways you’ve found to nourish your relationship with your spouse?
Sarah: Aaron & I have a weekly date night. My in-laws watch our kids while we get some time for each other. We take turns picking the date (where we’ll eat, what we’ll do, etc.) so there’s a surprise element which is a lot of fun!
Brittany: One of the best ways to nourish a relationship is intimacy and spending time together. When my husband and I start to have problems, I take a look back at things and ask, “Do we talk? Do we spend time together? When was the last time we held hands or kissed? Have we been telling each other that we love each other?” My husband and I started out as friends and when we were dating, we ALWAYS held hands. Touch is a very powerful thing and it releases Oxytocin (or whatever that love chemical is) that helps you bond with someone. If you don’t talk because you are both too focused on your phone, the television, or even your kids, you become strangers.
Aseneth: My spouse and I have found that God has been a game changer for us. When we are reminded how God forgives our sins, we in turn can forgive each other (it is NEVER easy) but it is worth the effort. We also schedule dates into our google calendar. We label some “family time” (all of us) and others “date night” (just us two). We also talk alot about money. We agree on purchases (most of the time), we talk about what plans we have with money, we save together, and we joined our bank accounts. This has definitely been a huge game changer in our marriage. Its opened the lines of communication, where there were none.
6. What is one thing you do for your spouse to keep your relationship thriving? What is one thing they do for you?
Sarah: Aaron loves playing basketball, so I make sure when he gets the opportunity to go, nothing is keeping him. I tell him I’ll take care of the girls, straighten up, whatever. I know he’ll be at his best if his tank is full. For me, I relax best when my house is lived in but not in complete chaos. He’s really sweet and usually tries to straighten up for me.
Brittany: I can’t think of just one thing that I do for him or that he does specifically for me to keep our relationship thriving. Something that we both do, that I think is special, is when we are browsing Facebook or find an article that interests us, we share it with each other. When we do that, it says that we were thinking of each other and thought that the other one would enjoy it. Another thing that we incorporated was a game night. We used to do it during the day, once every couple of months, and send the kids off to Grandma’s house, but that sometimes limited the time that we played. We ended up changing our game nights to happen at 8:00 pm, after we put the kids to bed. Once you have three children, as a parent, you feel guilty asking people to watch your kids, or at least I did, so this was perfect. Once we started doing this, we decided we could host every Saturday night. Even though there are other adults at our house, hanging out, this has become a fun date night for us. We have fun playing Dungeons and Dragons (I know, I’m a nerd) and then after everyone has left, we recap what happened. It’s been really fun and gives us both a well-deserved break.
Aseneth: I think the things that keep us together and thriving are our differences. He is persistent when I want to give up and I talk when he wants to be quiet. The balance each person brings is essential. If we were exactly the same, I think we would have frustrated each other to death by now.
7. What is one piece of advice you have for newly married/engaged couples or new parents?
Sarah: Just one!? Haha oh boy. I guess I’d say keep God in the center and be intentional with everything you do – especially once you have kids. Life is going to happen and you’re going to have rough days, but if Jesus is at the center, it’s a lot easier to walk through the valley. And be intentional about your time together.
Brittany: One piece of advice that I would give newly married couples is schedule time to talk to each other. It’s so important. Even if you’re stressed out, listen to what your spouse has to say. Don’t judge them. If you don’t agree with something, don’t speak out in anger because you can’t take what you say back. Always tell each other the truth, do not fabricate things to make them seem better or worse than there were. Most importantly, if they do something that makes you happy, TELL them. Even if it’s something little. People like to feel appreciated. Last, if you come across a problem that neither of you can talk about without getting upset, pray about it and put it in God’s hands.
Aseneth: Do not give up, even when the house is a mess and you feel you are two completely different people who don’t know each other anymore. Marriage is hard but its worth it. Make time for each other and remember to be kind to one another, don’t be nicer to a stranger on the street then your spouse in your own home. Lastly, find the RIGHT time to talk. it is not always the right time, let logic guide your conversation instead of your emotions. Wait a day or even just a few hours to react to something that might have been said or something that happened. There are a few books I recommend, “The Five Love Languages” and “The total Money Makeover”. Those books changed so much for us. Stay determined.
Let these amazing women introduce themselves…
Sarah: My name is Sarah and I’m a 20-something wife & mama who loves to document life! After my hubs and I moved from Seattle (where I was born + raised) to Birmingham in June 2015, I started a blog and I quickly fell in love with blogging. It has become a way for me to share our family and how we do life. The Shaver Crew is a family of 4 obsessed with Jesus, fun, laughter, quality time and yummy food! My heart is to share things that help you build your family, encourage you, make you laugh, and help strengthen your relationship with our Savior.
Blog :: shavercrew.com
Instagram :: sarahmshaver
Brittany: Hello! My name is Brittany Vantrease. I graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in 2009 with a B.S. in Business Administration. My husband and I got married August 16, 2008. We started our senior year of college in a small, one bedroom, apartment that was located on the second floor of a duplex which was rented out by a cute, elderly, German couple. We had high hopes of wonderful jobs when we graduated, but 2008 and 2009 were the years that the economy really started to go into a recession and getting a job in the fields that we hoped for was almost impossible because we didn’t have the experience that even the entry level jobs wanted. Before we graduated, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. We ended up moving in with my grandma after graduation because neither one of us had jobs. A few months and a couple of small jobs worked later, we able to move out of my grandma’s and into my parent’s old, empty house. Around 2011, my husband had gotten a job close to Chicago and moved in with his parents part-time until we were able to buy our own home. As luck would have it, our home is near his parents, so we’ve been able to have a support group instead of starting out in a new area with no family or friends around. The job that my husband had paid enough that I could leave my job and stay home with my kids. Since then, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom which has given me the opportunity to blog and write my soon-to-be finished Christian Novel. You can follow my blog at figuringitout101.com and maybe find one of my books in a bookstore in a couple of years!