“A baby changes everything.”
I imagine every expectant parent hears that phrase at one point or another. Some find it encouraging and positive, others find it annoying and negative, and while its actual results vary, that phrase is pretty much the truth.
To create a child with your husband, experience that anticipation of pregnancy, and then witness firsthand the birth of your child, is a once-in-a-lifetime, unique experience that is only truly shared with each other. And this goes for adoptions too, of course – no one but you and your husband truly know the emotional and physical toll it took to get to the point of holding that sweet child in your arms. And for better or worse, all depending on the moment of the day, that child changes your marriage.
I could write pages of stories about both the struggles my husband and I faced and the incredible moments we experienced together in solely our first year as parents. Parenthood brings up challenges nothing else in life could, and no one can predict how parenthood is going to unfold.
That said, I’ve heard a lot of peer moms say one version or another of “my marriage just isn’t a priority anymore, and that’s okay.” But I always wonder if it really is. Is it actually okay to let the relationship with the one person we’ve committed (to him and to God) to honor, cherish, serve, and love for the entirety of our lives, slip through the cracks?
Now I get it. I get how challenging it is to put my husband first when I have a brand new baby to nourish and care for all the livelong day (and night!) and barely a moment to myself. I get how frustrating it can be when he doesn’t understand the recovery of birth (how could he?), the all-consuming work of breastfeeding, and the pressure of mothering. I get that our days get busy and it doesn’t feel like good use of our time to “just” sit on the couch and talk. I get that it would be irresponsible and impossible to prioritize him over our child at every given moment. I get that there’s work and commitments to be honored. I get it.
But let’s look at the big picture – our most of the time.
The scary thing is, the older I get and the more relationships/marriages I see crumble, the more I realize that by letting my relationship with my husband become less and less of a priority, the less I’m making my promise to him and God a priority. The more risk I take in our future, the more I take him for granted, the easier it becomes to oversee all that he does for our family.
And the more marriages I watch crumble, the more I realize putting my marriage first is the best thing I can do for my child and our family. And in order to work on my relationship, my husband and I both have to be intentional about it. We have to choose to carve out time (and money in the budget) for a date. We have to choose to put down our phones and set aside our laptops in the evening to talk for a few minutes about our days. We have to choose to look each other in the eyes and say “I love you” even when one of us is rushing out the door in the morning and the other is chasing our toddler around the kitchen.
Shortly after our son was born, my grandma told me, “One of the very best gifts you can give your child is a happy marriage.” And even through this short length of motherhood I’ve experienced so far, it’s easy to see her advice is wise. When we prioritize our marriage, we’re better parents, too. Our son is watching us hug and then dance around the kitchen, he’s hearing us laugh, observing us work through disagreements, picking up on how we treat each other and the emotions we feel when we’re together.
There’s no such thing a “perfect marriage” – a marriage is made up of two imperfect people after all. But there is such a thing as a marriage in which both the husband and wife are intentional about honoring each other with sincere and unconditional love, compassion, selflessness, and servitude, and that’s the kind of marriage I pray for and work for in my home. I mess up a whole lot, but I trust that as I do my best and continue to learn from my mistakes, God will knit my and my husband’s hearts closer and closer together. I hope you can find yourself prioritizing your marriage too, however that looks for you.