I don’t know about you, but people were asking my (now) husband and I about babies before we were even married. And lucky for them, not long after we were, the babies came. And two at once that first time around. As soon as we announced that I was pregnant, the advice began to flood in. You know what I’m talking about: sleep when they sleep, breastfeed if you can, don’t let them sleep in your bed, blah blah blah. Advice can be helpful, but can also be frustrating. And the piece of wisdom I always found the most curious was “if your marriage can survive the first year of parenthood, you and your husband can get through anything.”
I remember fearing what that first year would look like, and especially with twins. The number of times I heard statements like that had me convinced that our marriage was going to have us in the trenches there for awhile. My husband and I sat down and talked about how we wanted to approach this crazy journey called parenthood. All we knew for sure was that we knew nothing for sure. But in that very moment, we promised each other that we would always keep each other first. First wife, then mom. First husband, then dad. That may sound crazy, but hear me out.
Before I knew it, the twins were here, and we were in the thick of it. Nursing, pumping, bottle feeding, burping, changing diapers, repeat. Every three hours. I say “we” because it was absolutely a team effort. We did everything together. Every feeding, every middle-of-the-night diaper blowout, all of it. And as you can imagine, some of those 3:00 am interactions brought out the worst in us: first-time, frustrated, and flat out exhausted parents.
Over time, things got easier. We learned to communicate better through our frustrations and even made a pact that whatever was said at 3:00 am would be forgiven by morning. Things weren’t perfect, but we made adjustments to be the best version of ourselves we could be in this season of life.
Life has been crazy since our first babies were born, and then we added another little one into the mix a few months ago. As you can imagine, the chaos has only increased. And let me just paint a picture of what life is like with three tiny humans two and under. Wake up, breakfast, madness, chaos, lunch, tantrums, diaper changes, naps, laughs, cuddles, dinner, bedtime. Notice that between those commas, there isn’t a lot of room for mom and dad to enjoy some solo time, let alone cuddle.
But we try. Man, oh man, do we try. Sometimes it involves a verbal reminder that we are husband and wife first. Sometimes it’s bribing our friends to watch our kids so we can have a date night (where we just talk about the kids anyway). But the point is, even if husband and wife time sometimes has to be scheduled, we make the effort, and we make it happen. We love our kids more than anything, that goes without saying. But at the end of the day, our relationship as husband and wife is a foundation of this home. 20 years from now when the kids are off doing their thing, it will be back to us, just how it started. Some people don’t love the concept of husband and wife first, and that’s okay. It’s just what works for us. And I’m comforted in knowing that my kids will be raised in a home where they see a husband who values his wife and vice versa.
Each relationship and family is different. I’m not suggesting that what works for us will work without fail (for our family or otherwise). What I am saying is marriages and relationships are important, so we make it a priority to make time for them. And let me tell you, it’s not always glamorous. Sometimes we go out to fancy dinners. And sometimes, like every Valentine’s Day, we order a heart shaped pizza and have a few beers together after the kids go to bed. Because, you know…balance.
We made it through that first year, albeit a blur. It was tough and we were tired, but we survived. And even though there were many sleepless nights (and a handful of snarky remarks I’m sure), we came out on the other side and we’re stronger together. So this Valentine’s Day, once all the tiny humans are in bed, we’ll bust out the pizza and cheers to another year of surviving parenthood and loving each other.
MARISSA ELLIS IS A WIFE, MOTHER OF THREE, AND ALL AROUND AWESOME HUMAN BEING. SHE RESIDES IN DENVER, COLORADO.