Dear Husband,

We used to hike mountains together. Now the mountains we see are made of laundry.

We used to see movies at the theatre regularly. Now we watch Netflix as our kids sleep.

We had a list of all the fine dining establishments and we’d cross each venue off our list as each anniversary passed. Now we eat somewhere friendlier with a little less white linen.

We traveled the world together but these days the shorter the drive to a holiday destination the better.

We used to take part in each other’s hobbies. Now one of us stays home and the other goes out.

We used to talk about everything. Now we talk in short sentences about schedules or send each other links to articles when we’re at work. We send texts back and forth in lieu of talking about it face-to-face because there’s no way we can get a deep conversation in with the kids around.

We used to be fiercely in love, our passion held together by our life with fewer demands. Now we have to work at this love. We have to find time and space for our love and in this stage of kids finding space and time is hard.

We see the world around us changing. The kids are older.

We are still tired but we can see the light. Now we have a softer, more tired love. Emphasis on tired.

Raising kids is tiring but sometimes now I see glimpses of the old us, before kids.

Conversation flowing easily on a date night again. For once, the conversation wasn’t about the kids or schedules. I don’t know if I ever told you but in the early kids days, I used to save up conversation topics for when we went out, fearing I’d have nothing interesting to say.

We traveled internationally last year with the kids. It was actually good for the most part, good in a way I couldn’t have imagined.

I’m not saying it’s easy now. But it’s easier than those early years of working out how to love each other with kids around 24/7.

I told you recently about a book I read for work which claims 50 percent of marriages experience affairs and we laughed. Because who’s got the energy for that? Or time? I love that we both see it that way.

We see friends’ marriages crumbling under the pressure and we get it. No judgement here. We’ve had those conversations but for one reason or another, we’ve stayed.

Sometimes you are prepared to work harder than me because you’ve seen divorce in your family and you don’t want that for our kids. Unlike you, my mind sometimes plays a dance with the option of leaving. I think I entertain the idea mostly because it is an option when things get tough.

I’m sorry for that. I haven’t left yet and I probably won’t. Because deep down even though it’s hard sometimes, I want us. I want this family for our kids.

I want to be able to look back on the memories I’ve made raising these kids with you, not alone. Because no one will ever know those times and no one will ever get it like you do. And no one can ever know our kids like you do. Or love them like you do.

One day we’ll hike mountains together again. One day we’ll have space and uninterrupted time to give this relationship what we once did and I hope to find you still there. Maybe you will be, if we keep working at it and I don’t listen to that head of mine.

So here I am in this soft sometimes very tired love, with you, after all these years. And I’m good with that. I know you well enough to know you won’t quit on me. Just like you’d never quit on our kids.

I don’t think we’ll get our fierce love back. That belonged in a time before we rolled the parenting dice. But I think we can keep this soft love burning. Maybe we can even grow it.

Nadene van der Linden

Nadene van der Linden is a clinical psychologist in private practice specialising in perinatal psychology, parenting and trauma. Join the Unshakeable Calm facebook group today. Science based tips for calm and confident living.