This post was first featured on Meet Other Mums:
I’ve been thinking lately about the time my husband and I get to spend together. I don’t mean with the kids, or making dinner, eating dinner, clearing up, etc. I mean actual one-to-one, quality time together. If we are being honest it’s not very often at all. We are really lucky that my mum will keep the kids if we want to go out together but as she watches them all day whilst we are at work, we don’t like to ask too often! Mostly when we do its to pop out for a meal and back in time to bring them home for bed. I look at how we started off our lives together and how much things have changed since then.
My husband and I met when we were still at school, we were 17 and were together for over 11 years before he proposed. In that time we had a lot of great experiences; we went backpacking around Europe twice, visited New York, went to Las Vegas and saw the Grand Canyon (what an amazing sight!), enjoyed Florida and all it has to offer, graduated from university, started out in our chosen careers, had a fair few nights out and enjoyed weekends away in various cities across the UK and Europe. It’s fair to say we had a good time and enjoyed what we were doing. When we got married we moved to a Scottish island for a couple of years and our first two children were born whilst we lived there (though not actually on the island.)
When it was just us we had so much free time, lots of time to chat and share our thoughts; talking about what had happened that day. Time to listen to each other and give advice or support when needed. We had a tidy house and cars; enjoyed eating meals out together or watching films at night when we got home. It was fun. We were never really overly romantic but we enjoyed life and spent lots of time doing things together. When I look at our lives now I don’t see any resemblance to how things used to be. No sign of those two people. I’m not saying it’s terrible, just very different.
Nowadays we barely spend an hour or two a week on our own. We’re either at work, the shops, out with the kids, doing things around the house, doing things with/for the kids or putting them to bed. We are in the same place a lot of the time but not really together. So what does this mean for our relationship? I don’t have much time to reflect on this but when I do I see two very different people. We are no longer that carefree couple who laugh and have fun all the time or can set off for a weekend break at the drop of a hat. That’s not to say we never have fun and that we don’t laugh any more, of course we do. It’s just different.
I know everyone’s relationship changes when they have children. It has to. You are responsible for other little beings and their wellbeing and happiness. They come first and you need to put yourselves to the side for a while, especially while they are so young. I often read about people talking of the importance of still focusing on your relationship and on being a couple. I definitely think I fall short in this area. I’m just so exhausted all the time. By the time the kids are fed and bathed and I’ve sat in their room for ages reading stories, singing songs and waiting for them to fall asleep; I’m worn out. Sometimes I even fall asleep in the boys’ room and waken up a couple of hours later to a house in darkness and silence. My boys are not good sleepers (thank goodness my girl is, for the most part) so I’m also up a few times during the night and early in the morning. Combine this with work and our busy lives and I just have no reserves left. Nothing to give.
So, where does that leave us, my husband and I? For now I would say we are ok, we get by. We love each other and our children. We have been together for a long time and so we keep going. To let this period of hard work and exhaustion beat us would be to give in, to show that our relationship wasn’t built on very strong foundations. We have a lot to contend with in our daily lives; bringing up three young children, both of us working full time and our eldest son’s needs on top of that. I’ve read many stories where less than this has beaten people, where they couldn’t see eye to eye and sadly had to go their separate ways. It worries me. I would be lying if I said it didn’t. However, the important thing is that we both know this is short-lived. Our younger two will grow up and become more independent. We hope J will too, though we need to wait and see.
We live in hope that our lives will become slightly less chaotic and exhausting. That one day we might be able to take that weekend break without relying on my mum to keep the kids and worrying if they will be hard work for her whilst we are gone. We have been very lucky that my mum has kept our kids for a week in April for the past three years, to allow us to go away as a couple. Some people may see this as selfish and may disapprove. I see it as our lifeline. We don’t get the time together that some other couples get (though I know not all). When we are at home the rest of the year we get to spend very little quality time as a couple. We don’t have lots of nights out or overnight stays away every now and then. We need this time; to be together, to rest, to recharge our batteries and to help us to keep going and coping with the ups and downs the following year will bring for us and our little family. This one week helps us to cope with the other 51. I think it’s part of what helps us to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to appreciate each other and what we have. It’s easy to forget sometimes and get worn down by the exhaustion and the relentlessness of some days/weeks. Sometimes we just need that time to reflect, to step back, to take stock and to gear up for the year ahead. I’m so thankful that we are able to do this and have a supportive family who make it possible. This and our awareness of our circumstances and the effect they have on us at the moment, help us to survive.
How does everyone else cope with the changes having children have made to their relationship?
What do you do to get by, to survive? Is there a better way?
Is it just us who sometimes feel overwhelmed?
Will it be short-lived and will there be the happy ending and light at the end of the tunnel?
Please share your thoughts and experiences with me, I would love to know how other people feel.