When I got pregnant everyone was quick to tell me all about what to expect and prepare for in becoming a mom and taking care of a baby. What they did not tell me was how my marriage would change and the bumps that come when you add kids to the mix. Today, I am continuing on in the series, "Real Talk with Real Moms," with other bloggers focusing on the topic of relationships. Be sure to read the other bloggers' experiences on how they have learned to manage relationships in their lives since becoming moms, and you can continue reading below to hear my experience, specifically, with marriage. 

Not to get too personal because one day I know my kids will read this, but my marriage to Ryan got so much harder when Elle came into the world. If I could sum up the source of all of our fights and trouble it would have to do with expectations. I could write a whole book on the importance of managing expectations with hundreds of examples of how I made mistakes in that arena. Our marriage definitely felt like it had taken a backseat to parenthood, especially during the first three months of having a baby. You can't be intimate for six weeks after having a baby, and let's be real here, it's not like the weeks leading up to having a baby I felt sexy either. So, with the dry spell of intimacy, on top of sleepless nights, on top of the stress of figuring out if you are doing things remotely right as a mom, on top of no date nights...Yeah...Our marriage was pretty much a commitment without all of the warm fuzzies. We were in the trenches of being parents. Anyone else been there?

Yeah, that's pretty much a recipe for disaster: a lot of fighting and a lot of resentment...Ryan having the expectations of sleep, of "down time" when he got home, of me feeling back to normal after six weeks...Me having expectations that he would always want to hold the baby after a long day at work, that he wouldn't complain about the sleepless nights, that he would be extra loving and caring of me...

The second time around the reality of challenging circumstances was similar (no sleep, two kids to take care of, no date nights initially, etc.), but because we knew what could happen to our marriage we found ourselves being so much more intentional with our relationship. We didn't plan a ton of date nights to fix things, but we did what we could to show love and for one another. Also, the biggest thing that has helped...marriage counseling. There. I said it. My husband and I have been in counseling for awhile, and it's probably the best thing in the world we could have done for our marriage. We fight better, love better, communicate better...Having someone help us work through old scars, underlying resentment and simply be a mediator that helps you get to the heart of issues and explore areas that we like to ignore has been the healthiest choice I have ever made.

Based on experience and the counsel we have received, here's a couple things that helped and are helping now:

1. When the kids are asleep, carve out 15-30 minutes of one on one time at night without any distractions to ask each other how they are feeling. Don't just ask, "How was your day?" That's an important question, but knowing how someone is feeling is even more important because you will know the emotions driving their tone, behavior, etc. Also, ask, "What are you wanting from me?" Maybe it's just a hug or maybe they are asking for more help around the house, but knowing someone's wants helps with understanding expectations so that resentment doesn't build. You might not always be able to give what the other wants, but you can hopefully come to a compromise.

2. Either ask for help or take things off your plate by saying, "NO." People, we only have so much time in the day, and we have to prioritze what's important. Taking care of myself and my marriage has made me a better mom, but that also means I can't do as much as a friend, daughter or blogger. Since having children we have outsourced a lot more so that my husband and I can see each other more.

  • Hired a house cleaner to deep clean once a month
  • Hired a babysitter to watch the kids three mornings a week
  • Put my daughter in pre-school two mornings a week
  • Hired a pool man
  • Hired an assistant for AVE Styles
  • Said no to some travel
  • Said no to having friends over sometimes
  • Asked family for babysitting during the evenings for date nights

3. Try to make a date night every other week when your baby turns 3 months. We ideally would love a date night every week, but it never has been able to work out that way. So, every other week or so we go out just the two of us. Sometimes it's during the day for lunch and sometimes it's a nice dinner and movie. Just make sure there is some conversation happening and you're not just staring at a movie screen the whole time. If you're a mom of one, take advantage of the newborn stage and go out on dates with the baby sleeping in the carseat next to you. Ryan and I would do this all of the time at restaurants where you could pay ahead so that we could leave at any point.

Check out other bloggers' posts below:
Could I Have That
Apartment 34
Smitten Studio
The Refined Woman
Parker Etc.
A Daily Something
Effortless Chic

Read past posts: Feeding, Sleep, Travel, Childcare

Photos by Gina Meola