When we had our firstborn, our marriage changed. In many way it changed for the better and in other ways, not so much. We obviously had less time for each other and our intimacy waned. We felt exhausted and had less patience with each other at times so arguments were more frequent. The great thing is that all things work together for our good and it just gave us a desperation to spend more time with God together. We spent more time reading scripture, our devotional book and praying to help us reconnect and get over that hump. It worked and God carried us and our family through that difficulty. He helped us to come out on the other side closer to God and each other and much stronger as a couple.
This time period also made us consider who should come first in families, in a practical sense. On paper, we realized that we should keep each other in first place to keep our marriage strong, but how? How do successful families prioritize? How do husbands and wives remain close through the crazy hectic first years and still have fire left when the children move out? We realize that God must come first, our marriage is second and the lights of our life, Kaara and Asa are third. The moment we held Kaara and Asa in our arms for the first time, we felt so excited and grateful to be their parents. These were children of our own flesh. How amazing is that!! Mamas and daddies know the magnitude of this feeling! We are attached to them and interwoven with them. At times our lives and schedules seem to revolve around them. However, we’re not one flesh with them. We are joined in one flesh with each other exclusively, and when our unit is strong our kids flourish from our strength. Although I believe this wholeheartedly, it feels weird to say that our kids are in third place. However, third place doesn’t reflect how we feel about them at all. We absolutely love, nurture, delight in, and dote on our babies but we also make sure that having them doesn’t cause our marriage to drift apart.
When Kaara was ten months old, we went on a week long vacation together. A few were surprised that we were leaving him so soon. In reality, it was the best thing for our family because we were so rejuvenated when we returned. We truly felt like boyfriend and girlfriend for a whole week and it had an amazing effect on our love and subsequently, our baby. We’ll never regret our decisions to pour energy into our marriage because we know that we can simultaneously take great care of our babies and each other! Every night when hubby gets home, we hug and kiss each other first and then the boys. We know that we are affirming each other in this small gesture and also setting a good example for our kids. It reminds me of a quote I heard long before we married. “Marriage is like a cradle that holds the family in place.” To this end, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to have a fulfilling marriage!
Dear mamas and daddies, please don’t feel bad for leaving your children with a loving family member or competent caregiver and spending quality time with each other. Your kids will miss you, but they will happily greet you when you return. Eventually, as they grow and mature they’ll realize that mama and daddy need play dates, too!
P.S- I know that sometimes these suggestions aren’t easy to follow and that everyone doesn’t have family or friends to watch their kids or extra funds to date, etc… but it’s sooo important to carve out time for one another. Even if you start a group with other neighborhood moms and swap babysitting duties so you and hubby can do something inexpensive or free. It’s so worth it