This is THE MOST fabulous advice I have received in a long time.
This is a subject that my husband and I have had difficulty with for some time.
This is the story about WHY I need this advice.
WARNING: This could be the longest blog post in history.
Our marriage drastically changed once we started having children...and not in a good way. This is something that we have literally been struggling with for 3 long years.
Before we had children, Jon and I were best friends.
We had a GREAT relationship. We rarely fought at all.
We really didn't have any issues with each other. We could go places and do things without a care in the world (relatively speaking...because we had two dogs).
We traveled...A LOT. We went out all the time. We hardly EVER did anything without the other person (we WANTED to spend all of our time together).
Then we decided it was time to start having children. I think that it really changed once we found out we were pregnant with the Munchkin. I have long said this...my life changed immediately, while Jon continued on the way he was. As women, we give up so much of ourselves to have children. We give up our lifestyle. We give up our bodies. We give up our freedom. And the change is immediate once we find out that we are pregnant. Men don't have to give up anything. I gave up smoking, he didn't. I gave up drinking, he didn't. I had to give up eating certain random things, he didn't. (I know that the whole giving up smoking and drinking thing would seem like a no-brainer, but I know many people who have not while they are pregnant.) We had made the decision to have children TOGETHER, but here I was making many DRASTIC life changes by myself.
It got MUCH worse after Munchkin actually arrived. I tried to breastfeed....that didn't work too well. I was doing most of the care-taking by myself. I was struggling very hard to figure out how to take care of this little person AND myself. Jon continued on....like nothing was really different. I am NOT saying he didn't do anything, because he did. He did change diapers, he did feed her, he did bathe her, but I felt that it was because I had to ASK him to. He continued to hang out with his friends and do the drinking thing, and the smoking thing (like I couldn't tell....) and I was angry about it. I had made all of these lifestyle changes (and believe me...there were many arguments about me not changing fast enough...ironic if you ask me) and he had made none. It was and is a double standard. I went to him and told him how I felt, and he basically threw his hands up and said if he ignored it, it would go away. In his opinion, he was still the same person he had always been, and I was the one who had changed (hello, my point exactly), and that it was my problem to fix. And so, the problem continued on.
We did limp along...but all of our focus was on our baby girl. We love her more than words and life itself. We did NOT focus any attention on each other...just on the Munchkin. Hind-sight is always 20/20....we should have been focusing on our marriage just as diligently as we were our daughter. We continued fighting off and on...same argument..but it got worse, and mean. Very mean. Despite all of this we decided that we wanted to start trying to have another baby. It was a happy thing when we found out we were pregnant again, but the same problems kept following us (go figure...you don't solve the problem, it doesn't go away)...and we kept limping along.
The second pregnancy was EXTREMELY difficult. Much to my dismay, my body endured A LOT of damage during my pregnancy with the Munchkin that I was not aware of. By the time I was 12 weeks pregnant with the Little Man, I was in physical therapy (and have been ever since). There are SO many things that can happen to your body when you are pregnant....I'm wondering why NO ONE tells us this. And believe it or not...it's NOT normal, and you DON'T have to live with it. There is a silver lining that came out of this situation...I am now in school to be a Physical Therapy Assistant, and I have a job waiting for me when I get done with school working with a fabulous Physical Therapist who is a WOMAN'S HEALTH SPECIALIST. Because we DON'T have to live with it, and it CAN get better!!!! During my pregnancy with Little Man, I was put on bed-rest, and long story short, it was horrible and stressful, and we were all VERY glad when he arrived. The pregnancy did, however, put even more stress on our marriage. I NEEDED to depend on him...and he DID pick up a lot of the housework and things I couldn't do, but he seemed resentful of the whole situation.
So here we were with two children, and our marriage was still on the back burner. After Little Man was born, we went through a period of several months which almost ended our marriage. I won't go into details...and I know that I probably should tell the whole story, but honestly, I can't. At this point, I demanded to go to counseling. Jon agreed. We started seeing a counselor, which helped, but I was still under an incredible amount of stress, and I was feeling overwhelmed, and I was having trouble sleeping, so I started taking happy pills. This made a SIGNIFICANT difference for me. I was able to function SO much better, but it didn't fix things between Jon and I.....even with counseling. It did get better, but nothing has gotten resolved. We took our counselors advice, and we did work on some things, but well, it just hasn't been fixed.
And then we found out I was pregnant AGAIN. I won't go into the details since I explained that all in How I became the mom of three. This did NOT help things at all. I had to come off of my medication....horrible. We were not overly thrilled in the beginning because we KNEW this was not going to be a good pregnancy...and it hasn't been. I had thyroid problems in the beginning of the pregnancy, and then by the time I was six months along, the pre-term labor started. And so....we are still limping along, and I can't NOT (sorry for the double negative) have a decent, reliable, healthy, happy marriage any longer.
I having been finding myself wanting to close myself off emotionally (at the very least) from my husband. I know that this is NOT the thing to do, and I can recognize what's going on, but I am having trouble stopping it. So I made the decision to go back to our counselor. I need to do this for my marriage. I HAVE to have the will to fix this. I want to stay married, and I WANT AND NEED it to be a HAPPY marriage.
So we are on a new mission. The mission to nurture our marriage like we nurture our children. If we don't, there won't be a marriage to rely on when the kids are old enough to have their own lives...and THEN where will we be?
I have to guess that soooo many couples have this issue, but don't talk about it, or ignore it because they just don't know what to do about it. So I'm sharing. I'm sharing our journey from here on out because I need to get the thoughts out of my head (plus it gives me a little insight) and maybe it might help someone else.
I do desperately love my husband, and I want things so much to return to what we had. So we're going to work on it. We ARE going to take time for ourselves as a couple. I would like to sit down with him this weekend so that we can make a plan (shhh, don't tell, he doesn't know this yet) and STICK to it. I'll let you know what we come up with, and I'll also let you know where this journey takes us...I'm sure that there will be ups and downs...but my hope is that we'll come out of this with a stronger marriage and more in love.