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Supersister Questions

Posted by Patience on April 3, 2009 at 12:07 AM in Patience
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a proud papa

Kelly writes:

i have a question. we just had our second child in under two years and i am wondering how the heck i'm supposed to find the time and energy to build and maintain an intimate relationship with my husband when the kids demand so much--sometimes all--of us. am i committing a major no-no if i let things slide for a while? or am i committing a major no-no if i try to take on marital issues right now?

There are about 100 pictures like the one above. When Lyra was just minutes old, Jorge
held her in 52 different poses, taking goofy and joyous pictures of himself with his new girl. It's just so amazing, and the love so overwhelming during that time. It's easy to lose the "you and me" in all of the new "us". When the babymoon wears off and you are both so tired and spent is when the real relationship navigation kicks into high gear.

It's difficult to answer your question Kelly because every couple is so different, however I am happy to share my own experience. Every weekend for the last month, Jorge and I have been arguing over the stupidest things. I realized we were royally on each other's nerves and even after four children are still adjusting to our new life with this baby.

For us, we need a little of both options you mentioned. I try to remind myself that space and time are required during this stage of our lives and marriage. Grace is a wonderful gift to give each other. It won't always be this way, the baby won't always be so little and needy. I won't always feel so frazzled. While I'm sure there will be different challenges ahead, they won't be the exact kind before us today. This thought can be comforting during particularly hard moments in our everyday lives.

Yet even while we are willing to honor the stage we are in, we can still choose to be in it together. This might mean that I push myself to ask him to join me (even when I'm tired and I wish he would just jump in without the invitation) in the thick of it because we are partners and friends. It might mean that we require breaks both separately and together. It might mean that I have to trust him to take care of things even if it's not the way I would. It might mean that we choose each other even in the midst of all the need around us.

In the end, these children will grow up and leave us and this person is the one who will be by my side after they are gone. Many a day though, the answers aren't always so clear.

What do you think superparents? How do you find your way back to your partner in the midst of living life with kids?


Jess writes...

As you said, we try to give ourselves grace and trust that our kids won't be babies forever...and that sleep-deprivation and grouchiness (and the resentfulness they breed) won't last forever, either. For us, the hardest time in our relationship is when the baby is about a year old and the past year catches up to us. We're in the thick of that right now but I *know* we will be friends on the other side of this because even though we don't always like each other much in the present day-to-day, we're still trying to function as partners.

Redefining partnership is key, in my opinion. We're not expecting this to be a sexy romance novel phase of our lives and because we can let that expectation go, we give ourselves freedom to enjoy each other in other ways. Being in the trenches together now is a bonding experience of its own. We also redefine what a "date" is when the babe is young - amazing how much togetherness can be have with a baby along when you leave the older kids with a sitter. :) As the babe gets older, and we get more rested again, the dates can get more adventurous. But for now, anything that allows us a few minutes to chat counts, even if it's buying coffee and taking the kids to a mall paly area so we can get 5 minutes of relatively uninterrupted face time together.

Christin writes...

Well, I asked my pastor his input on how to juggle kids with marriage a while back. And his opinion was that marriage comes first. Just like you said the kids will grow up and leave one day, but your spouse will still be there. Kids are demanding, and sometimes you have to prioritize what has more value or meaning. Is it worth sacrificing the romance and friendship that you have with your partner in order to be at your children's beckoned call? What made the most sense that he pointed out to me was that we teach our children about love, relationship, cooperation, and teamwork amidst many other things by how we interact with our partner. So our job is to set the example through our marriage.
Taking this advice, my husband and I make sure to have our "alone time". After the kids are tucked in, we hang out for an hour or two. Watch a movie, pop popcorn, or do a devotional together , or even pull out cards and go at it,... a couple of times we turned out the lights lit candles and just danced. AND WE DON'T TALK ABOUT THE KIDS! This is strictly us time. We also have date night once a month. NO KIDS ALLOWED. And for these few hours we are in boyfriend/girlfriend mentality. My 6th grade teacher used to call her husband her boyfriend which I thought was strange at the time but now I understand. As a girlfriend I take the time to get dressed in that sexy outfit and heels that I (as mom and wife) am too conservative to even consider wearing, as girlfriend I don't critique everything he does wrong but find it cute, as girlfriend I laugh at his jokes even when they aren't funny. As my boyfriend he splurges and spoils me just to see me smile, he holds my hand and holds ME like we're back in high school. Point being, you have to get away from the kids and change your mentality and the way you see eachother at times. Go out not as mom and dad but as boyfriend and girlfriend. Woo eachother, romance eachother. It's WONDERFUL!
And what's great is that it seems like my kids actually enjoy seeing us acting out the love that we have for eachother. If anything they feed off of it, when we hug, the kids hug our legs at the same time. My daughter is about 31mos. old and just yesterday my husband and I were making dinner and got to flirting and shared an intimate kiss. We thought the kids were playing in my son's room, so I was suprised to see Alexia standing at the other side of the kitchen with this glowing look in her eyes watching us, smiling, not saying a word. I want my kids to have a happy marriage in the future full of romance and love, so my goal is to show them how!
It's hard at first to make the changes you need, and your kids may even get jealous of your partner. You must make it a point to do this and keep doing it. I believe in the long run, heck even right now, we ALL benefit from this arrangement. Don't be one of those couples that after the kids are gone look at eachother and don't know what to say or do.

Gina writes...

You know that game you played at field day in elementary school where you'd tie one leg to another person's leg and you'd have to run a race? That's what marriage feels like with little kids. We're tied together and we've got to run this journey together. Sometimes we're perfectly in sync and the running is easy and enjoyable. We're in stride, matching each other and in that place of ease we can take the time to enjoy the scenery. Then we fall out of sync and we're stumbling.... each stumble makes us question the other person, looking for blame, irritated that they're making a hard job even harder. If one person falls, we have to either drag them behind us or wait while they get back on their feet and we try again.

The things you need are lots of communication, patience, forgiveness, a sense of humor, and the knowledge that it isn't supposed to be easy.

PatienceAuthor Profile Page writes... very wise. I love the illustration of the 3-legged race. So true.

Valerie writes...

Oh this is just so hard sometimes.

I almost think it's easier to be a mother than a partner because a child's needs (particularly during infancy) are so apparent and concrete: feed, change, bathe, cuddle.

A partner's needs are more abstract and easier to miss/ignore, intentionally or not.

I think your point about "choosing each other" is spot on, mostly because I think it's important for kids to see their parents be affectionate and loving to each other. They'll remember that more than if the laundry is done or dinner was on time, and hopefully carry that behavior into their own future relationships.

Jen writes...

Oh, this is such a hard thing with which to grapple at different stages of parenting... Off the top of my tired-Mama head, I can think of two things that have kept our marriage loving and growing, despite gestating and birthing six babies and raising up five of them together:

1) Praying for my husband, especially when I'm frustrated with him. Turning over the bad feelings to a higher power instead of letting them simmer into a high boil has made all the difference. There are a thousand versions of this; it doesn't have to mean yer gettin' down on yer knees next to your bed and saying a whole liturgy memorized from a particular church body. Just handing the frustrations over to a higher power, and asking for insight and wisdom and smart timing, and kind words is all, whatever that looks like to you.

2) Going on cruise with my man from time to time! We aren't rolling in the bucks; we struggle to make our mortgage payments, our health insurance premiums have nearly wiped us out, we drive our cars until they are old and dead, and we scrape bottom at times. But we have reaped sooo much from our times away together, starting with a 5th anniversary cruise my husband scrimped and saved for since we never had a honeymoon, that if and when we have a little extra money left over after a refund from the IRS, or a bonus at work, we turn it into a cruise. It's the perfect get-away for mamas and daddies in the trenches: someone cooks fabulous meals for you, there's room service, a cabin-boy to clean up after you and turn down your bedding each night, places to dance, dinners to dress for, comedy shows, karaoke, tropical islands, and best of all: A LOCK ON THE CABIN DOOR!!!!! No one will interrupt any nekkid moments, and ya can stay wrapped in each other's arms the whole day, for 7 days if ya like it there. It's a beautiful, amazing thing. We come back from those trips just so much in love, and refueled and recharged and just blissful. It used to feel impossible that we'd ever do anything like that, until we checked into some of the rock-bottom prices you can find if you're patient, and now it feels like a necessary investment into our marriage. We've been married for 15 years, and my husband still feels like my boyfriend. It is a lovely thing.

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