“You know, the most common time to get divorced is when you have little kids. It’s so all-encompassing that it’s hard to spend time with your spouse.”
My mom has said some version of this to me many times, and while that doesn’t exactly bear out in the data I can see why it might be true. Being a parent, even if you are in a co-parenting situation, of small children is hard work and it can be hard to see that you’re getting as much as you’re giving when you’re more tired than you’ve ever been in your life.
The sleepless nights that last a lot longer than you expect. The struggle of having a child with a developmental disability that has yet to be diagnosed. Not knowing if this is a normal thing or worth going to the doctor over. Working and reworking your budget as new expenses come up. It can take its toll!
I want to talk about this before we enter the holiday season because that time of year can be such a struggle for many of us. I love the holidays and it is still sometimes a challenge!
I would never claim to have a perfect marriage, but we do some things that really help and I hope they can help you too as you navigate this challenging time as new parents and as a couple.
- Whenever you can, say to your partner, “I see you’ve been working really hard. Why don’t you take it easy tonight?” Nateanite says to me on a regular basis, “Why don’t you take a bath tonight?” It’s not because I’m stinky (a legitimate problem when you are a member of the human race) but because I love baths.
- Do things together that foster conversation. Even if it’s a gripe-fest about how you got poop kicked in your fast this morning and you’re tired of popcorn kernels on the floor all the time, connecting is important! And if you can laugh about it, even better.
- Accept that what “pulling your weight” looks like will change. For example, about five years ago I had to go out of town for a weekend for my job. I asked Nateanite to do a couple things around our apartment while I was gone. None of the things got done and I was really angry about it. Recently I was out of town for the weekend to attend a training in Chicago while Natenite stayed home with our girls. I couldn’t help but remember the first example I shared. When I came home and the laundry was washed & dried and everyone was happy and healthy I was delighted! I asked for help and support, and although it looks different now compared to five years ago, he came through.
- This is not something we do together, I don’t even know if Nateanite does this, but I practice hard conversations in the shower and in front of the mirror. It helps get all the nasty out before we go head-to-head.
What are some things you and your partner do as you get through this difficult phase of life?