November 08, 2016

A few months ago I binge watched the Netflix show 'Chelsea does...' in which the always hilarious Chelsea Handler learns and investigates more on the subjects of drugs, technology, love, and race. I loved all of the episodes, but the one that left me wondering much more about my own life, was the love episode. In one of the scenes that stood out the most, Chelsea is interviewing four couples who have been married for 40 years or more. She asks them what the secret to a long and happy marriage is and how they kept the romance alive. Then each couple recounted the tricks that helped them stay magical in each other's eyes.

One of the couples who had been married for 50 years or so, said the one thing that helped them stay romantic is they had dinner just the two of them every night. The husband would be at work and the wife would get the kids fed and off to bed before he returned at the end of the day. Then they would share a private and romantic meal, just the two of them. The husband also made a point to say he never saw his wife without her makeup or hair done. Chelsea was shocked by this, but the wife said she found it important to always look her best for her husband. For me that's not a realistic daily goal, James has seen me countless times in my pyjamas with no makeup on in the daytime, but I can get on board with the private dinners, just the two of us.

James and I have been married for just over two years now so it is early days. But since having Oslo I can see how quickly the focus (especially a Mother's) can switch away from her partner and onto the baby. It's a normal reaction I think, but if the focus is left too long on the baby I know it can affect the marriage long term. In the first few months of having Oslo I can admit my attention was mostly on him. It is all so much to take in and adjust to, so James was put on the back burner a little bit. Now that I feel I have my daily life with Oslo a little more under control, I have consciously made the adjustment to focus on not just being a mother, but also a wife.

So after watching this love episode and ensuring Oslo had a good bedtime routine, we decided to make dinner time about us, like before when it was just us. James works late on weekdays and usually comes home past 8pm, which is usually too late for Oslo to stay up anyway. So while James is finishing up at work I do Oslo's normal bedtime routine. He's fed, bathed, read to, and off to bed all before James walks through the door. On a very good day, which happens a few times a week, I already have dinner ready for us to enjoy when he gets home. On those not so good days when my schedule has been thrown out the window, James will come home and we will make dinner together, or I will sit on the sofa with a glass of wine while he cooks me his incredible pizza. We take that time to talk about our days, goals, plans, or often just about Oslo. It doesn't matter really what we talk about, what matters is that we have time for us.

Yes I have to admit there is the frequent night where we are so exhausted that all we want to do is put a show on and cuddle on the couch, but I still count this as time for us. There is no need to force conversation when there really is nothing to discuss other than how our days have been. The point is, it is so important to hold onto those moments just the two of you because babies have the ability to change everything, and this is why relationships can be so affected. I have also found I prefer to have these moments every day instead of waiting for those never going to happen date nights, that seem impossible to plan. Just knowing we are connecting and having those special moments day to day gives me so much confidence in our bond. 

Take it from me, a child who grew up with parents who never spent any time together and with a Mother whose sole focus was on her children. I was surrounded by constant attention and love, but what was happening around me was a marriage crumbling because there was lack of focus and daily communication. As sad as my parents divorce was, I learned and am still learning a great deal from their marriage. The days, the months, and the years pass by too quickly and I know if you hold back on communicating and sharing with your partner, and taking that special time for just the two of you, it will become even harder to get that magic back that you had in those early days. 

Marriage will always have its ups and downs like any relationship does, but when you and your partner take the time to care and nurture that relationship everyday, then the downs don't seem as hard. You know you have a strong connection that will hold up in almost any situation because deep down you know each other, you communicate, and the daily attention will make that love grow stronger as time goes on. 

Each day for James and I is a lesson on how to balance life as husband and wife, and as parents. We haven't discovered the secret formula just yet, but I don't think anyone has. Knowing our relationship needs constant focus and love, and finding a way to respect that seems to be working for us right now. As a new mum and wife I feel I will always struggle with putting too much energy into Oslo, and feeling guilty about not giving James enough attention. This is the main reason why being aware of how quickly a relationship can change is crucial in creating a healthy path for a lasting one. So stay focused, give love, keep present, open up and communicate with your partner, and most importantly make time for just the two of you.

Photo by Wild Eyed Photography.

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  1. This is such an interesting post Jules, and so well written! This is a topic very close to my heart and something I feel really strongly about. My husband and I met when I was 14, so we've been together almost 13 years, and married for almost 6. Before we had Halle we spent a lot of time discussing how we would still put our marriage and relationship as a priority after our sweek girl arrived. I have to admit, it was difficult to do this at the beginning, as we were both new parents struggling through on very little sleep!

    We too always make sure we have dinner together, every night, at the dining table. We both exercise every day so we have limited time during the week after work. So, Saturday nights are 'date nights' for us. We don't go out anywhere, but once Halle is in bed, we cook an extra special dinner, or watch a new film, or listen to our favourite music.

    For us, it's really important for Halle to grow up seeing that her parents really adore and love each other, and I hope we'll be a source of inspiration to her.

    Chloe xxx