On social media, we see all of the ADORABLE newborn family pictures. We feel all the baby fever feels meanwhile thinking to ourselves “this couple’s marriage must be on fire”! I mean, how could it not be when they get to snuggle a perfect little bundle that’s half him and half her?! My husband Taylor and I had a different experience which feels extremely personal to share. As I’m typing this, I’m sitting here wondering “What if my readers think that we have a bad marriage? What if they judge me and can’t relate to this at all?” Well, I’m willing to put this out there in hopes that maybe there’s one person who can relate and know they are not alone!
When Jonas, my son, was a newborn, Taylor and I went through a difficult time in our marriage. There are so many factors that contributed to this, but in general, the biggest factor was navigating parenthood for the very first time (in addition to some major sleep deprivation of course!). Prior to having Jonas, we knew that life was going to change drastically once he arrived. We knew that our social life would change, our priorities would change, and the way we spent our time would change. We knew all of this yet somehow, living it was a different story.
We felt more distant than ever in the weeks following Jonas’s birth. I felt like Taylor would rather be golfing than home with Jonas and me. Taylor felt like I had unrealistic expectations of what our family structure should be. I began to feel bitterness towards him. The minute he came home from work each day, I would hand him Jonas and ignore him. We both said things that were hurtful and didn’t mean.
We decided that we needed to work through this instead of trying to ignore the tension. So we went to see a counselor. Before I continue with sharing this story, I want to say that going to counseling does NOT mean a couple is on the road to divorce. It means they want to take time to work through their issues which is a beautiful thing! In fact, if we had the money to, we would go to counseling once a month even if things are peachy keen to be proactive!
So, why did we decide that counseling was necessary? One, we were not communicating effectively. We each had our own agenda and were not willing to hear the other person out and make compromises. Two, we both grew up very differently (not a bad thing at all!) and therefore had very different ideas of what we wanted our family structure to be. Three, we knew that our marriage NEEDS to be our number two priority (following our relationship with the Lord and before our child) if we are going to be the best parents we can be.
A family will not operate effectively if each parent has a great relationship with their kids, present, and hands on, but they resent their spouse. Sure, it may work for a while, but eventually it won’t. We knew we wouldn’t be good parents if our marriage wasn’t the priority. For us, we want our children to feel stability when they look at their parents. We want them to feel safe and to know that we love each other just as much as we love them.
So, what was the secret to Taylor and me getting to a better place? We spent time together in prayer, worked through our problems (i.e. counseling and communicating better), and made sacrifices. That last piece is a big one that I want to highlight. Being a parent is the definition of sacrifice and it requires both parents to do so equally.
When I think about the word sacrifice, I think of God’s sacrificial love for us even though we are SO undeserving. Taylor and I chose to try our best to emulate that love with each other through sacrificing things that were priorities to us before having a child. At the end of the day, this tough point in our marriage brought us closer together and allowed us to have a deeper understanding of each other and God. I know there will be other challenging times in our marriage to come, but I’m so thankful for this experience and all that we learned through it even though it was so incredibly difficult. God is good! P.S. Taylor, if you’re reading this, you are the best husband and father and I love you so much!