Two years ago, I made an executive decision that Nick and I needed a fun date night. We were new parents in the middle of an insane adjustment period and coming off of a difficult pregnancy. Like most new parents we found ourselves overtired and super stressed out. Both of these things had started taking a toll on our marriage.
Dating is super important to marriage, especially after kids. However, that is an easy thing to say but not such an easy thing to make happen. It’s easy to understand why so many new parents become absorbed in their new responsibilities. I remember the long nights I spent holding Nikki and the overwhelming love I had never known before. I wanted to spend all of my time with her, making her comfortable, giving her love. Becoming a mom is just super overwhelming in the emotions department. It can be so easy to morph into that “mom only” mode while meeting the needs of your little one.
However, I firmly believe it’s important to remember we were whole people before meeting our kids. We had hobbies, desires, and things we loved. Part of this shift often includes our spouses. As we adjust to parenthood it can become so easy to put our partner on the back burner to focus on these very demanding little people. In many ways, this was happening to me and Nick. We barely spoke about anything but Nikki and our quality time together had basically dwindled to nothing.
So I made a plan.
Luckily, it was autumn and I had a list of fun things to do like I always do. I am a list maker for life, guys. One of the things on my list for that year was to attend one of the very cool pumpkin art events in our area. Originally, I looked into the Great Pumpkin Blaze in Sleepy Hollow. It’s a massive event and I thought we could check out some the haunted fun that the area is famous for. However, the commute there is just over an hour and I couldn’t commit to leaving Nikki for so long at just two months old.
As if on cue, a friend posted pictures from a similar event hosted on Long Island. I immediately reached out to her for details and decided to buy tickets. It was much easier to carve out the time for ourselves knowing we were only 25 minutes away. I made a plan for the night that included dinner and fall fun and set aside around 4 hours for our date. I called my mom, who at that point was basically begging for a reason to watch her new grandchild. Once, everything was arranged I found I was excited to be getting out for a night to just be an adult.
I thought, for sure, that by planning a casual and fun night everything would run smoothly. Boy, was I wrong. When the night of our date arrived, it seemed like nothing was going right. Nick and I bickered almost endlessly throughout the entire afternoon. This left me feeling pretty discouraged and on the verge of canceling our plans. I didn’t, though, and I’m glad for that. We were running behind schedule on the way there and it led to more bickering. I remember being so annoyed that he wasn’t just happy to spending time together. Why wasn’t he just excited for a night out?
The reality of that first date.
During our night out tensions eased and we eventually had an enjoyable time. We went to the Rise of the Jack o’Lanterns first and followed it up with a low key dinner nearby. As we wandered through the maze of amazing pumpkin sculptures we found a comfortable stride. We began joking and laughing more and bickering less. It didn’t take us much time to make it through the exhibit and we both talked about how we thought it would be longer. Still, though, we enjoyed it and thought that some of the pieces were incredible.
We decided to get dinner at a local panini shop where the food was excellent. The conversation continued to flow, but there was still a slight edge of tension. It bothered me a little, but I chose to ignore it and enjoy the time we had out. I was slowly realizing something. We were far more out of sync than I realized. Aside from that, I could tell that Nick was anxious about being away from Nikki. It was the first time since having her that we weren’t the ones putting her to bed. Someone else was singing to her and kissing her head. While these things pulled at my heart too, I hadn’t considered how affected he would be by them.
It was endearing to see him in this light. I knew from day one that he was an amazing dad, but this took it to a whole new level for me. It can become very easy as mothers to assume nobody has the same feelings for our babies as we do. Really, this was a humbling reminder that Nick did and always would match the love I have for Nikki.
That first date after becoming parents taught me something important.
As for the fact that we were out of sync, well, it turns out that’s a pretty common feeling. Every single thing about your life changes when you become a parent. Some changes are major while others are imperceptible. It is so easy to get swept up in the business of living life that we forget to take an emotional inventory. It was much easier to maintain solid communication in marriage when there was only two of us. Now we had added another person who was entirely dependant on us and that took away from time we would have focused on each other.
I was happy to learn that it wasn’t only common but relatively normal for this to occur. Our marriage wasn’t broken, it was just adjusting to a new reality. Part of making that adjustment successful, though, meant we had to be intentional about our time together. We need to plan a date night in advance and be conscious to keep the conversation flowing. As I mentioned in a recent post, it’s important to not talk about the kids all the time. When Nick and I go out somewhere, I actually think in advance of things to discuss. Non-Nikki related conversation topics help to remind me that I am still a woman, not just a mom.
Getting back in sync is a long road, honestly. This was especially true for us. A difficulty pregnancy knocked us out of sync and the growing pains of our family compounded it. The thing is, though, had we not had that date night, I may have caught the signs too late. Our relationship trajectory could have gone much differently had we not started working toward getting back in sync. A strong marriage takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice, just like any other rewarding venture in life.
What was your experience with reconnecting after becoming parents? Let me know in the comments!
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