After shooting a wedding on my birthday Friday we had the weekend off to celebrate with my family that came in town to visit, and each other. So on Saturday – we had a paddle boarding & Mexican/margaritas date night thanks to the ultimate babysitter, nana, and it was SO much fun!! We laughed at each other as waves knocked us off our paddle boards – the sun setting over the beach and Chicago’s gorgeous skyline lighting up in the distance. We went to one of our old favorite spots for tacos & a pitcher of margaritas (which it turns out affects us much more than it used to! Oops! haha). And we talked about anything and everything under the sun.
We reminisced about days we used to go to that same restaurant to drown our sorrows after another negative pregnancy test or bad doctor’s appointment.
We talked about the memories we have together that stand out in bright bold colors in our minds and wondered if they would carry on like that through our lives together… or if some will fade to black & white or a dim gray as the newness of the memory wears off. (Do you ever think about that? What memories all these years later you can REALLY remember? I find it so fascinating… which moments stand out – where you remember what you wore, how the air smelled, or a look someone gave you. And I wonder when we are old and gray if some will still stand out as they do now or if they all eventually get more dim, and harder to recollect?)
We talked about marriage and the work we need to do – as well as the things we are doing better than before.
We talked about how grateful we are that every week we get to witness love stories, and families coming together – generations and traditions old & new. And we talked about how most importantly – we get to hear wisdom imparted on couples from their officiants, friends, and parents. It’s like a weekly reminder of what we signed up for over 8 years ago when we said “I Do.” The messages we hear each week always seem to be exactly what we needed to hear in that moment – almost eerily spot on, actually… as if each word was written just for us when we needed to hear them most.
Our marriage has seen a lot of ups and downs over the years, but especially so since the boys were born. I’ve found that not a lot of people talk about how hard marriage is after kids. Maybe they don’t want to seem ungrateful, or maybe everyone just has an easier time adjusting than us? (I’m sure it doesn’t help that ours is compounded a bit by the fact that we also run a business together out of our home and have twins!) Anyway – it’s such a strange dichotomy to be SO overwhelmingly happy and grateful to have these kiddos, while simultaneously totally exhausted & have barely any time for your partner, let alone for yourself. The seconds, minutes, and days fly by – and before you know it – you are just in a maintenance mode on life… making it through each day but not taking time to pour much into your marriage or yourself. So often the priorities lie elsewhere and when the clock strikes midnight all you can do is drag your half asleep self into bed and do it again tomorrow.
That was what our reality had turned into over the past few months as busy season has picked up and it was taking a toll on our marriage. James felt frustrated because he missed me – and because I truly wasn’t prioritizing our partnership in the long list of things I needed to do. I always kind of assumed we’d be just fine and wasn’t taking time to put in the work – or to fill up my relationship cup, as some people say. (Truth is – I missed James so much too – but we had also gotten to a point where the frustrations and loneliness were boiling over – so James was pushing me away and we weren’t being very nice to each other. So that made it hard to really want to be with each other when we were constantly frustrated with the other person, or using what little time we did have together to hash out our issues all the time.)
Finally though – James sat me down and asked for 30 minutes a day.
Just 30 minutes.
30 minutes for us to sit together and spend it however we wanted. We could talk. We could (finally) watch a show together. We could read next to each other. We could cuddle. He wanted to feel like I cared enough to make the time. He wanted to feel seen and heard by his wife.
It’s a little crazy that it had gotten to the point where my own husband had to ask me to prioritize just 30 minutes a day for him so we could connect and remember we weren’t on our own in this… but it had. After talking I promised James I would do my best to try. I didn’t feel right promising I could do it every day all the time, but I promised I would try. I told him that I did see him, and I did care, and I did want to be better… for US to be better.
And so we put in the work and started taking these tiny steps back to each other.
Some days we spend just that 30 minutes together, but other days – which is the great part about this – we end up extending the time and are getting more quality time connecting than we have in a long time. (We are also much more tired than we have been in a while because we are staying up later enjoying our time together and don’t want it to end. haha. So we are still trying to find the balance, but already it has been so much better.)
We’ve had some rough patches over the past year and a half, but the good thing is that we’ve had equally wonderful “good patches” after we’ve talked through things and reconnected. My hope is that we continue to grow and get better at communicating our needs and making adjustments as the boys get older. And maybe eventually it won’t take so much conscious thought to prioritize one another and our marriage… hopefully it will feel more like second nature.
Anyway – I hope this didn’t just sound like me rambling. haha. I have had this on my mind a lot lately and really hope to talk about it more. I feel like there is a gaping hole in the dialogue out there surrounding marriage after kids come into the picture and I would love to be able to fill that in if even just a little bit. It feels especially necessary in a world where we only see most people’s blissful Sunday mornings with their kids dressed in coordinating adorable clothes as they head to church via an Instagram post. You don’t hear a lot of real talk about marriage and struggles and rough patches – or more importantly – the ways in which you figured out how to get through it … steps you took, frustrations you had, and the joy you felt when you reconnected.
So here I am… wanting to share more and hoping you all want to be a part of the dialogue too. Please let me know if there is anything you want to hear in particular or if you are just down for the ride. 🙂 Sending my love to all of you and your loves. Hug them tightly and tell them “thank you for being you” today.