Marriage in the Midst of Motherhood
May 1, 2019 | Jamie Beeson
I had my first son in my early twenties, just a little over a year-and-a-half into our marriage. He had some struggles as a wee one and was very vocal about it…all day and night. As much as I loved that little guy, my life felt sucked dry both literally and figuratively. The first four months of his life I spent most days stressed and nights, exhausted. I remember crying, telling my husband I didn’t think we’d ever be able to do anything together again. The days seemed long and the nights seemed longer.
The second my husband came home from work, it felt like my relief had walked in; it’s all I wanted those last hours of the afternoon. When was my shift of walking, bouncing, consoling, and soothing this mad and hurting baby going to end? He walked in, initially happy to be home, but I’d immediately put him on assignment: Take this screaming baby and make him happy. I'm pretty sure I trained my husband NOT to look forward to coming home with this routine of mine.
When the babe was finally asleep, I'd sit on the couch like a limp noodle and my husband would come to sit next to me, naturally wanting to connect with his wife. But, I felt like a dairy farm whose hours were closed. I just wanted to hang a large sign around my neck: Keep Away. My husband, the man I fell in love with, my best friend, my lover had been demoted to a shift worker, my help, my relief.
Though not deliberate, it happens to a lot of young mamas; those precious additions can cause a lot of division if we aren't intentional about this equation. I should back up and say that being a mom is one of the BEST things that has ever happened to me and one of the greatest honors of my life. We now have four boys, and each one of them has grown my heart and brought me such sweet blessings. It’s not that I resented my baby (well, maybe a few times), but I allowed the work of being a mom to take priority over the investment in my marriage.
We had a new normal as roommates and co-parents on autopilot. Our scenario is not unique. I have talked to many moms who have similar experiences, leaving their marriage in shambles. Now, 17 years later, I have watched marriages dissolve because they began falling apart in those early years of parenting. The marriage was no longer a strong, foundational, love-filled relationship; it was merely a parenting team. As the kids grew older and the needs changed, there was no foundation left, and the walls crumbled.
How can we keep our marriages alive amid motherhood? This question has many facets. I will attempt to share a few simple, but effective tools we’ve used to keep our foundation strong. (Yes, I had a wake-up call and realized I was handling it all wrong. We rebuilt, and now have an amazing, imperfect, but thriving love).
No matter what, each day find a way to have fun together- to laugh and enjoy each other's company. It doesn’t take a babysitter, extravagantly planned date night, or an entire weekend to have fun. Sometimes, my husband will save a funny video on YouTube for us to watch after the kids are in bed. I'll log stories in my mind (sometimes I text myself a reminder) of things that happened during the day that would bring a smile to his face. We challenge each other to a game. We flirt. He spins me around the kitchen unexpectedly, he slowly approaches my neck and talks in a deep voice; which ALWAYS makes me laugh and sends shivers down my back, or I brush my hands on his back and end it with a poke in the ribs...just for fun.
Sometimes, the routines and responsibilities of motherhood become mundane, we become complacent in our own version of Groundhog’s Day. There's even MORE routine with babies, LOTS of diapers, spit up, and more feedings in addition to the everyday everything lining the daily itinerary. A change of pace or a change of place can mix up the perspective we get locked into as moms. Do something different. Instead of talking in bed, curl up on the couch with a blanket, put your legs over his lap and ask him about his day. Instead of the typical “Bye, love you” in the morning, get a running start and jump up into his arms to give him a hug.
Be frequent in small touches of love and acknowledgment. Be frequent in your gratitude, thanking him for every effort he puts forth. Be frequent in communication (at the right times, not when you’re tired or stressed.) Be frequent in fun. Be frequent and intentional in checking with them and what matters to them, what’s on their minds, what’s stirring in their heart. Be frequent in reminding yourself of all the reasons why you got married. Be frequent and intentional in alone time and guard it like a fierce mama lioness. Your marriage and its strength provide more security, definitions of love, and behavior-shaping for your kids than you realize. Their future depends on the power that you (as a married couple) bring to the home.
Fight for your marriage. Small, frequent deposits have incredible, lifelong returns.
Originally printed in the May 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine
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In celebration of National Nurses Week (May 6-12), we’re featuring five women at Yellowstone Surgery Center who are leading and caring for the nurses in their departments. As clinical directors, these women are the support and driving force behind the nursing staff, all tracing their current success back to their nursing roots.
I had always wondered what it'd be like to be content. I’d watch others who seemed to be content and think, “Gosh, wouldn’t that be nice? To love life just as is…to feel that kind of joy and satisfaction." I pondered whether it was possible to be a dreamer, doer, and completely content at any given moment.