Being a blogger is something super vulnerable and scary. It’s okay and easy when I’m writing about something new my child is doing or it’s a fun party. But when you feel like you want to share something deeper, like something you learned because you were a jerk, or a “bad” wife, about mental health, or sharing about any area of struggle I always dread that vulnerability. However it’s those blogs that I get loads of messages and emails from people who relate. People who have or are going through the same struggle. It’s weird how when we go through a struggle we feel so alone but we are among others who feel just as alone… basically we are alone in a sea of people who feel alone.
Something that I wonder what Rob and I experienced if we are the only couple who is experiencing this. Maybe this is this an *almost* universal experience that *most* couple will experience at one point of their relationship.
Our marriage is super important, and some women won’t agree with this statement but I believe it’s more important then the relationship I have with my daughter. Rob is pretty much 100% why we have November (literally). I’m also fully aware that time will pass fast and soon she won’t need us anymore and it will go back to just being the two of us. That fact alone means that I need to make my marriage a priority.
12 months ago we welcomed our sweet November into the world (read her birth story here). Our lives were sucked into sleep deprivation, trying to get her to eat, my body healing from the trauma, and postpartum depression. She CHANGED our world but we continued to talk about how we didn’t want her to BE our ONLY world – again if you don’t agree, let’s agree to disagree. We tried to go on dates regularly and make time to fulfill each other’s love languages. We wanted to make sure we felt like each other felt loved.
When Novee was around 8 months I had started new medication for my heart that wiped me out. I was exhausted… not just mom exhausted: EXHAUSTED. My life became taking care of November and sleeping. That was all the energy I thought I had. Then something scary happened between Rob and I.. we stopped talking.. like we still talked, but it was no longer about the things that are important. We kind of did our own thing, we didn’t really invest the time into our relationship that it deserved. The priority and urgency of meeting each other’s needs just stopped. It felt like we were roommates.
Then I was watching a show months ago (which my mom brain has forgotten but I wrote down the quote) and it said, “A marriage only dies when you stop talking about it.” Woah! I’m pretty sure I cried in that moment. I cried because I was scared, I cried because I felt our marriage was in a dangerous place, I cried because I missed my husband’s friendship, I cried because I knew I needed to give him so much more.
We sat down and had an honest and real conversation about it. We both felt the same that we owed it to our small family to prioritize our love and relationship. I owed it to him to pledge that I would selflessly give all of myself to him to give him what he needed and he pledged the same. We also knew we both had bad habits we needed to quit ASAP because they were roadblocks in our relationships.
Then we did the smartest thing I can think of.. we talked to other people. We each have two or three “safe people” that we both approve of that we can talk about anything and everything in our marriage. These people are wise, don’t take sides, are our own same sex, and are invested in seeing our relationship succeed. Rob actually loves when I talk to one of my “safe” girlfriends because I come back with a fresh perspective and a positive attitude… mostly because my safe people call me out on my crap, bad attitude, and my selfishness. They encourage me to be better.
The first two weeks were tough. We had to figure out our schedules, we had to figure out to get over the hurdles, we needed to figure out balance between our relationship, our baby, our hobbies, and our alone times. We had to reprogram how we communicated and how we dealt with conflict.
Once we crossed that learning hump things started to get better. Things improved. Things became easier. We have come so far in these past 4 months and know we still have a way to go but we both agree we are happy. Even acknowledging the fact marriage always takes work is a refreshing thought instead of an exhausting one.
Here are the main things I have learned over the past few months that has helped us get our marriage back on track. These are all things that I have to think about on the daily and I’m always trying to prioritize them in my schedule:
1. Don’t be afraid of marriage counselling: I have said it before and will say it again, marriage counselling is the cat’s pyjamas. Often if we feel “stuck” on a topic or an issue keeps coming up again and again we talk to a neutral third party. On average we seek a 3rd opinion about twice a year. It gives us fresh insight and deals with the issue before it becomes the toxic to our marriage. It doesn’t mean we are heading towards divorce, it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other enough, it doesn’t mean we don’t have a solid marriage, it means that we care enough about each other to invest the time, work, and finances in ourselves.
2. Go on regular dates: this is something we are still trying to nail down since my BFF moved to Ontario. Taking the time to leave the house together sans baby and chat about our lives, our thoughts, what we are learning, what we feel we would like to work on in our relationship… and just be silly and flirt together! *note: Rob tells me I’m the worst at flirting and it’s something I need to work on which I had no idea of. Ask your significant other if you are a good flirt for a “fun” conversation”
3. Have approved safe people: I don’t think I (or Rob) would ever think it’s a good idea for me to talk about my relationship with an opposite sex, non relative. That is an affair waiting to happen. You may totally disagree with me but that’s okay! Our “safe” people have the track record of being discreet, neutral, wise, and encouraging. The type of people who keep me accountable for my actions and staying on track. The people who can tell me I’m being selfish and ridiculous. The people who tell me to reign in my emotions. The people who tell me that I need to re-evaluate. Have these wonderful people in your life and be willing reciprocate the favor by being a good listener for them too!
4. Make time for sex: Pretty self explanatory. If spontaneous isn’t your style then there is nothing wrong with scheduling it into your week! And I have personally learned that if things aren’t working out in that area for either you or your partner, never be ashamed to ask your doctor or seek out the help of a counsellor or therapist.
What I am learning is that our relationship is always evolving! Sometimes it’s evolving through a wonderful stage and it feels amazing, sometimes it’s evolving through a challenging phase that takes a lot more work for us to get through. It’s on the other side of the challenging phase that we feel more in love than ever! Regardless I ADORE my husband and every ounce of work, every painful self evaluation, and every difficult conversation is all worth it. And my favorite reminder, “a marriage only dies when you stop talking about it”, so talk away!