A friend asked me the other day, “How do you two do it? Is it your faith? Your ability to apologize…”. She and I are walking similar paths right now. We both have infants. And we are both dealing with a few tummy troubled infants. Hers, far more severe mine. But having been friends for a few years, she knows our past with screaming babies. 

How. Do. We. Do. It. I think it’s normal in this day and age. When we see so many snippets of lives on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to ask that quite a lot. How do they do it? How does she do it? We want to know if we’re missing some ground breaking key to easy. To ending the pursuit of happiness… And just being ridiculously, stupidly happy, every day. In everything. So that life can be all dreamy. All the time.

And at that. The universe laughs.

Life is never perfect. For anyone. Seriously. But I will say, my marriage… well… I think it’s actually pretty darn good. GAH. I know. Annoying. I’m not supposed to say that. Because next week, you’ll see us on the cover of People saying we’re splitsville. Because things aren’t supposed to be easy peasy chicken cheesey. But of all the things in life that feel like work, the marriage that my husband and I have built does not. Because it does feel like it’s a sure thing. And I feel like we make it pretty great. Together. And maybe even moreso since having children. Together. And if you know me, at all, you know I rarely boast such confidence.

So what’s our secret to what a good friend of mine deemed, our wash and go marriage? Sadly I am no expert. I’ve only been married once, to one guy, for less than a decade. But I do have a few nuggets that help us stay on track. I wrote a post after the birth of our second child, when I was being beasty, with some of my thoughts on how we keep tabs on our relationship. And now, after adding in yet another bundle to our brood, while some pieces remain the same, I have some additional thoughts on how we are surviving being married…with even more children. 

1. Do. Or Do not. There is no help.

People always want to say, “You’re so lucky he helps you so much”. Um. Wha? For some reason, that always rubs me the wrong way. To always say that a husband helps or is always helping somehow carries the connotation that he is not just as much in this parenting thing as the mother is. When the fact of the matter is, we are both all in. In different ways, for sure. I mean, he’s not putting the babe to his boob or anything {but really. Wouldn’t that be a great development? Pun intended}. But we are both doing. Or at least, we are both helping each other. But to say he is always only helping, like he’s my assistant, instead of doing, would be to minimize his role in our children’s every day.

2. Let Him Take You to Funkytown

Thanks to one of my favorite shows, Parenthood, I have a very favorite euphemism for connecting with the hubs and that is Funkytown. I think you gotta be on the same page when it comes to gettin’ down to Funkytown. With a three month old who was born two months early, our trips to Funkytown are just barely more common than prior to our marital bliss but I do think that, in general, understanding what your partner needs and wants, when it comes to intimacy, is a good way to nurture your marriage. What one couple deems normal in terms of frequency, others may not. But meeting each other’s expectations in between the sheets can lend to a happier household all around. And if there is not enough sleep and too much spit-up in your world, that doesn’t mean you have to be strangers. Hold hands. Watch your favorite show together. Spoon. Kiss each other goodbye. High five. Whatever it might be, make it be yours.

3. Apologize

Sometimes. I can be an asshole. A real jerk. There’s really no other way to put it. I have a temper. And really only toward my husband. My husband, notsomuch. He’s pretty patient with me. And I, well, I am not always the same. And so I have learned that I must apologize. When I’m short with him for reasons that have nothing to do with him. When I wake him up swearing in the middle of the night because I can’t get back to sleep after a feeding {yes. this happens}. When I am being beasty/snarky/sassy and the like. I apologize. Not always immediately. But when I do, I mean it. Because he does the same for me. 

4. Talk about your kids

We like to talk about the good, the bad, and the uglier than ugly. When it comes to our children, we talk about it all and we share insight with one another on ways we think we can be a better parenting team, why we think one decision is better than the other, and what we want for our children. I think the minute a mom takes the reigns and pushes a dad out, the minute he starts feeling like she thinks he’s one of the kids. We love our children and think they are the bee’s knees. So making them part of the focus of our relationship makes perfect sense.

5. Know You Are Not the People you Married

When I met my husband, I was 19, with nary a care in the world outside of the occasional homework assignment, Monday night meetings, and of course, where I was going to get a beer each Thursday. But now. Well. Now we have three kids. And we are different than that 19 and 20 year old. Not in a bad way. But rather in a way that we need to at least acknowledge. We’ve evolved and changed in our thinking, in our emotions, and in appearance. And I like my husband even more today than when we met. Because we’ve become the people we are today, together. 

6. Share The Load

I talked about helping. Well… with our third bundle’s arrival, I’ve noticed, more than ever before, that we are each picking up the other’s slack when ever necessary. Though he usually takes out the trash and locks up the house, I often do it as he is holding the babe. Though I usually made breakfast and got the kids ready in the morning, he’s taken over such duties. This wasn’t as a result of a discussion. It has happened as we watch what the other needs and fill in where we see fit. And thank goodness for that. Because it’s the way we’re surviving the first few months with an infant.

7. Manage Your Expectations

You are not going to go out every Friday night. You are not going to run out to get groceries on a whim. Life with three children is different. Life with two children is different. Life with children, is different than life without. And if you expect it to not be, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. With three under five, date nights do not happen as often. And happy hours do not either. But date nights can happen…with a little more planning. And so can shopping. And such. With more planning. But we understand that this is where we are. And that there is give and take. And that someday, we will be in a different place, once again. And that will be lovely, too.

8. Say, I Love You

We are affectionate people. We are both the youngest children in our families and are very free with our emotions. So telling each other how we feel, comes easy to us, I think. But there is still something reassuring about hearing the words … I love you… because sometimes, they come following a joke. Or other times after a glance. And almost always before we part. And just as was true when we were 19 and 20, those three little words can make a big difference. You love each other, right? Then say it.

9. Find Your Own Thing

I love to blog. And I enjoy singing in Praise Band. And I really love going to TJ Maxx and just browsing around aimlessly. He likes to golf. And run. And watch games. We are a couple. But we are two individuals. I find myself rejuvenated when I do something that fills my personal bucket. And in turn, it makes me more appreciative of my husband and children. And I think my husband feels the same. I think this is the very hardest thing for us… is to make this a priority. But sometimes, you just gotta take the plunge, make your plans, and feed your own soul so you can feed your marriage as well.

10. Make Each Other Laugh

It’s cliche. But it’s imperative. Poop up the back of a diaper… is funny. A totally toy tornadoed house, can be funny. And a lot of what happens in parenthood, can actually be quite hysterical. If you let it be. If you laugh together. If you smile at each other. And if you find happiness from just being together. Even with children.

 

Do these ten steps and you’ll magically have a perfect relationship and be the envy of all of your friends. Okay. Not really. But after reading my list, think about what you think fills your marital “bucket”. And how you have changed your approach to marriage, with children. Or what you’d like to modify to make it even better. Because I truly believe that the very best way to teach our children how to love, is to love one another. 

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/