Becoming a parent can be hard on your marriage. There’s a big learning curve, trying to figure out your new roles as parents, and how to communicate with each other.
You don’t want to talk about your kids all the time, but when you finally get a quiet moment alone, you kinda can’t help it.
By nature of how needy small children are, it’s easy to lose your marriage in your kids.
We don’t have everything figured out! Some of the things I’m sharing here are very recent ‘discoveries’ or practices for us. But, I wanted to jot them down in case there are any helpful ideas for you.
Finding Time to Communicate with My Husband!
Recently, my husband and I reinstated a “weekly meeting.” Romantic, huh? Actually, it has been awesome!
We set aside time each week to talk about:
- life/ hard things/ frustrations from the week
- anything that needs to be prayed over.
Basically, it’s a time where we’re free and uninterrupted to discuss boring and/ or harder things. We got this idea from friends years ago, but had gotten out of the habit of meeting weekly.
Bringing it back has been great! No more trying to squeeze important conversations, schedule updates, or budget questions in between 3 year old meltdowns and 6 year old piano practice.
Oh, and don’t forget a date night! We try to get one in per week, or every other week at the most. For a cheaper date, we put the kids to bed early, strongly remind them not to interrupt us, order takeout and just hang out together at home. No phones or TV. Just us!
Not Letting Negative Thoughts Stew & Grow
Within the last year, my husband and I decided we would make some time and space for me to rebuild my blogging business. One thing that changes is the amount of time I have to work on household things.
I started to feel resentful. Because, I felt like I had to still do all the same household things as I used to do even after adding several hours of work into my week. So, then I would start to build frustration – slamming cabinets, doing laundry and picking up toys, thinking, “Why won’t HE help me!?” (Anyone else a rage-cleaner!?)
First of all – my frustrated feelings were a symptom of feeling overwhelmed, not the root of the issue. And I was directing my frustration at him, even though HE wasn’t causing my problem. Because guess what? He does help me!! A LOT!!!
Often, getting to a place of frustration and resentment causes us to not think clearly. You know what I mean?
Rather than letting the resentment fester, or trying to just buckle down and do it all, I said something. (In between slamming cabinets and putting away unfolded clothes. You know I don’t fold laundry right!? Ha!)
Anyway ,we’ve been married 9 1/2 years and we’ve had a lot of practice having these hard conversations without huge arguments ensuing.
He hadn’t thought of it on his own but totally understood my perspective. And we decided to just figure out some new norms and change things up!
He also encouraged me in this conversation, reminding me I don’t have to do it all. That we’re a team, and I can ask for help before I’m cabinet-slamming-level-ticked. 🙂
What a gift to speak truth to your spouse when they’re down or discouraged.
Open & Honest
Parenting small children is VERY draining and time intensive. Openly/ honestly communicating with your spouse about your needs is a MUST.
Don’t forget to ask your spouse what he/she needs! One thing I forget is that my husband is tired too… sure he doesn’t spend all day with 4 small children. But he does work hard all day, and then he comes home and tries to be “on” for us! And he gets tired too.
A couple suggestions for bringing up a hard conversation:
- Plant the seed and plan ahead – don’t just bombard one another with, “I’m so tired and feel like I do everything around here.” Say something like, “Could we get a babysitter and go to dinner this Friday? I’ve been wanting to talk about ______, but I want us to be able to have the conversation uninterrupted and in a happy state of mind.”
- Think through the root of the issue. Try to address the root cause, not the symptoms.
- Avoid superlatives like “always” and “never.” They’re rarely true, and NEVER helpful. 🙂
- Be willing to give more than you receive, as well as take loving criticism.
- Be willing to change things up.
- Most importantly, be kind, open, honest, and give lots of grace to each other!
New Seasons & Rhythms
If you’ve gone through my 5 day email course about Rhythms + Grace, you’ve heard me talk about the idea that your day to day life, tasks, and priorities look very different in each season of motherhood.
Each baby and each season has made us change some life rhythms:
- I used to take the kids grocery shopping with me, now I order online and we all pickup on our way home from church.
- Ben used to mow the lawn while I watched the kids and then watch the kids while I ran errands. Now, we do almost all shopping online and hire out the lawn to have family time together.
- I used to do laundry one day a week, now I prefer one load a day.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up and step back and assess – do we need to change something!?
Identifying Self-Doubt, Lies, and Truth.
There is so much self-doubt in motherhood. When I notice myself feeling down or notice thoughts of self-doubt, I try to dismiss them asap.
One practical strategy I do is simply writing down the lie versus the truth.
Lie – We are never going to figure this out. No matter what I do, my 2 year old won’t stop screaming at me.
Truth – We are going to keep being consistent in discipline and habit training. He will grow out of this. And I need to take more breaks and deep breaths!
Lie – I’m not a good mom because _________
Truth – My children were given to me to raise and I’m doing the best I can right now.
Lie – I’m terrible at meal planning and managing my house.
Truth – The boring planning stuff doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’m going to figure out systems that work for me, and not compare myself to others OR to a standard of perfection in my head.
Lots of Prayer
Many of the moms I admire most are great women of prayer. They spend little minutes that add up to hours in prayer – in the minivan, on the way to an appointment, cleaning the house.
A couple years ago, I started asking the Lord (as the disciples did) to teach me how to pray! He has brought some people, books, and of course, His word, in answer to that request.
The thing about prayer is – it’s not just a random genie type relationship with God where you ask him for what you need and he provides. It’s so much more than that! There’s a relational quality to prayer that is hard to articulate.
But, investing time and energy into prayer has radically changed my motherhood. And not praying where I talk at God. (Although “casting all my cares upon Him” in faith has certainly made life more peaceful.
Making time and space to hear Him in my heart has been more impactful though. I often take a deep breath while I do a quick tidy task or get dressed in the morning and say in my mind/ heart, “Lord, what would you have me know today?” And then I try to stay open and focused, without letting my mind wander.
Some other thoughts about prayer:
- I have worked my way through one of these books at a time: How to Pray, Moving Mountains, Fresh Wind & Fresh Fire. I highly recommend each. I’d start with “How to Pray.” If read and practiced with faith, it’s life changing. Plus it’s old & only $4.00
- Practicing mindfulness of prayer throughout the day – creating space mentally to be quiet, and “inquire of the Lord” (a phrase you see a lot in the Bible!). This may be asking Him for help, for more general guidance, asking/ inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit afresh into our day, asking him to bring to mind someone to pray for – and then waiting to listen.
- Adding focused prayer time to my Bible study time in the morning. Even if it meant a shorter amount of Bible study time.
- Kitchen sink ministry – I have verses by topic & verses to pray taped over my kitchen sink. What a good way to redeem the time spent a mindless task such as dishes or kitchen cleanup!
A Beautiful Mess
None of these ideas are particularly revolutionary. And none in and of themselves will solve a deeper marital or relational or mental health issue.
If you need or want professional help, get it! And sooner than later. A quality counselor can help bring so much light + peace to relational issues.
For the little every day stuff, I hope these ideas were helpful or encouraging in some way! Do you have any habits, tips, or thoughts to share? Comment below.
Life is a beautiful mess, sometimes. Jesus had a good summary:
In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world. -John 16:33