How to Balance Marriage & Motherhood

When Jonathan and I walked into marriage three and a half years ago,
we received a few truths that have proven oh so valuable to us already.

Firstly, communication is always going to be an area of growth from your first year of marriage to
your 50th. Secondly, good marriages don’t happen by accident - they take work and thirdly,
a good marriage is the best gift you can give your kids.

Those truths ring truer today than ever, but what I didn’t anticipate going into this season of motherhood
is how hard having a new baby would be and that sustaining a thriving marriage with those challenges
would mean a couple changes. For example, Jonathan and I are very spontaneous people - we go on
last minute date nights to new cafes, we take random stops along road trips to lavender fields and
coffee shops. Having a baby makes being spontaneous quite challenging- you must pack and plan ahead
for all the feedings and other baby needs. And then if your baby goes on a sleep schedule and needs
to crib nap - it’s very easy to want to throw in the towel - or burp cloth.  Marriage after kids means you
have to learn to plan with more intentionality and re-find your rhythms.

Here are some simple ways we have found that have helped us strengthen our marriage
through this season.

1. Make time for good communication.
It is hard to sit down and talk when there is a needy baby close by but it is important to create space to
talk. We take advantage of Elenour’s naps to talk and connect. We also text and call during lunches to
stay in touch and lately have been using this amazing video walkie-talkie app called Marco Polo to send
short video messages throughout the day.We try and sit and debrief the day either on the couch when
Jonathan gets home or over dinner- we often give Elenour a toy to entertain herself with while we carry
on a conversation. We also have recently started having weekly check-ins one night a week
- just debriefing what’s ahead and making sure we are united and on the same page.
I would say this wasn’t an easy pattern to adapt- there are 101 things left undone when you have a new
baby, but we realized early on the danger of slipping in to ‘do mode’ rather than ‘be mode’ around each
other. Having good communication allowed for a lot of processing and healing after birth and continues
to help me navigate how I feel when I’m struggling with Postpartum Anxiety. In marriage you are a team
and in any sports team - huddles are essential. So check in during the day, go on walks together where
you unpack the week, (and our personal favourite) get out to a coffee shop (baby in tow) and ask each
other questions over lattes. Being a new mom can be a very task-orienting but it is important to make
time to connect amidst the hustle.

2. Make space to help each other thrive
I am a very creative person, sometimes that can be a good thing and sometimes (like when I hear a
sound at 2am) it can be a bad thing. But I feel as though as soon as I had a baby it was like the wave
of motherhood had enveloped me and knocked the wind out of my creative lungs. Everyday I would gasp
for creative air. I ended up exclusively pumping for the first couple months and it was the only time I had
a little space to create. I had to sit and stay in one place strapped to a machine that was then attached
to the wall.  So I developed ‘Pump Crafts’ which were these little hobbies I started while pumping when
I had the chance. I made little felt creations which eventually became my little ‘Humble + Heartfelt’ shop.
I used my phone to write reflections and articles which then got published on a couple online blogs and
one even published in a magazine (shout out to flourish motherhood). Jonathan noticed how when I
created I was more joyful, more me. Creating is part of who I am and working with my hands was part
of what makes me flourish, so Jonathan encouraged me to make space and take my hobbies further.
This didn’t happen overnight- it’s been a thousand little steps but it’s giving myself permission to prioritize
creating over cleaning , to be okay with not having a Instagram worthy meal most days for the sake of me
using precious nap time minutes to sew. I noticed that when I was able to create, even just a little bit -
it broke me out of the autopilot of bottles and diapers and allows me to better connect with
Jonathan and Elenour.

I don’t know what essential part of yourself you have left behind at the altar of motherhood but I
encourage you to pick it back up little by little.Having a passion doesn’t make me a bad mom,
I’d argue it makes me a better mom and a better wife. So do what makes you, truly you.
Be the person God made you to be, being a mother doesn’t mean all your dreams and passions no longer
exist- they do, they may look different to realize but it’s important to nourish them.
I realized this summer how much Jonathan cared about being active and being outdoors.
It was the last thing on my priority list but I realized that for him, that was part of what makes him tick.
He often wanted to go for walks or hikes in the evenings and on prime weekend afternoons he really wanted
to tackle our overgrown lawn. He really wanted to weed and mow the lawn and I couldn’t understand why.
When I noticed it was a priority for him and something he really enjoyed we tried to build more time for it in
our week. He has also recently taken up climbing which will keep him active during the winter as well.
Filling up your cup will help you better pour into another’s.

3. Invest time together
There was a study that came out last year that showed that one of the factors to having a thriving marriage
is regular date nights. Now, there is no set frequency to these intentional times but it’s important to have
a rhythm of them. Having a baby makes going out a little more complicated and often a lot more animated
(if you bring your little one along) but you can find friends or family to watch the baby a couple nights a
month or budget for childcare - whatever you need to do to out for an evening of uninterrupted conversation.
(What a treat!) I have also heard of couples swapping childcare for date nights - get creative!
Other options include having a stay in date night - playing board games after bedtime - order in from a new
restaurant, Watching a documentary together, reading a book out loud, working on a project (like refinishing
furniture) .. and many more I’m sure you can come up with or google. Being intentional as husband and wife
when all your attention has been drained all day at home (or at work) is hard- But having a healthy marriage
is important. Creating a space for you to laugh together and grow closer in this new season is essential.  
Jonathan and I also take time each week to pray for what’s ahead - it’s a short pocket of intentional time
but it is so valuable! We also really highly recommend going to a marriage getaway retreat.
Family life is an organization that runs these getaway weekends across Canada (& the states) so I would
really encourage you to make your calendars and make it happen! We just came back from one a couple
weeks ago and we just felt re-energized and more in tune to one another. It’s such a great investment!

4. Be in community
Surround yourselves with healthy marriages, have people you can be honest and open when things are hard.
We are so thankful that for the nearby friends we have that have encouraged us and our marriage.
Let’s face it, the society we live in is not Pro- Marriage. Sure it’s Pro- weddings and romance, but marriage
isn’t often held up in honour or painted in a good light. Most marriages on T.V. look dysfunctional and are often
the butt of the joke. It’s important to see good marriages modeled, to see husbands and wives that desire the
best for each other and love each other sacrificially. Surround ourselves with thriving healthy marriages,
even in different seasons then yourself, will encourage us to have a healthy thriving marriage.
Also Marriage Mentoring Initiative is a free program where you are paired up with a couple that is a
season ahead of you and you meet monthly to connect and touch base.
It’s very informal but it’s a sweet time to invest in your marriage and encourage someone else’s as well.

Lastly, I want to address the mom guilt that happens when you are not with and engaging your baby
at every possible moment of the day. You can be a good mom and a good wife as well.
It isn’t an either or, I would argue that when you have a good marriage kids feel more loved and secure.  And if a good marriage is the best gift we can give our kids - it’s important that we model to them making it a priority.


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