Quick answer: So. Many. Things.
It takes asking better questions.
This is a big one for me. John and I were sitting on the couch, month-old Anna asleep across the room and I asked, ‘How are you doing with all of this?’ I thought it was a simple gesture of curiosity, but a few days later John told me how loved he felt that I asked. Oftentimes when we’re all together we’re both looking at and talking about Anna. It’s been an intentional practice, but a good one for our friendship, to make an effort to ask specific questions about each other.
Takeout picked up on the way home once a week is okay, even a grace.
Some days it feels like a splurge, other days it feels like a way to relax, and sometimes it’s an answer to a ‘it’s been a long day and I don’t feel like prepping dinner’ prayer.
It is FUN.
We have laughed — at quirky baby things, ourselves or an absurd scenario — too many times to count. We love talking about the kind of parents we want to be, rhythms to establish in our home as Anna grows up and what we both find challenging (and weird) about babies. I knew I would love parenting with John but I didn’t really expect how much fun we would have.
Living room dates become a thing.
Every other piece of advice given is ‘make sure you carve out date night.’ While I wholeheartedly believe the life-giving nature of a night out with your spouse, we realized that time together doesn’t always have to be away from our home. Whether it’s playing Scrabble, reading our own books on opposite ends of the couch, watching a show or having a conversation, it’s the pursuit of each other even in the simple that has helped us relationally.
It is necessary to assume the best about the other.
I’m finding it is far too easy to think he doesn’t care about helping me just because he’s neck deep in a work email on his phone and didn’t hear Anna waking up as I did. Right? Come on, Chelsea. It’s impossible to judge motive, and it’s unhealthy to assume the worst in your spouse. Also, when you’re both tired or confused about why your baby is doing some random new thing, assuming the best and trusting God combats a lot of discouragement.
It won’t always be 50/50.
In the 5 years we have been married, we’ve never bargained. Never “I’ll do this for you if you do that for me.” This has been a solid rule and I’m thankful for it. Now, in parenthood, we’re always giving and taking and sharing and sacrificing. Some weeks he has a lot going on in the evenings and I hold down the fort and other weeks he sacrifices hours of work time so I can recharge or run a few errands. Since we never bargain, we trust that even when days or weeks feel extra long to one of us, the other is still aware and wanting to care well.
I know we’re only 4 months in, and “they” are right when they say marriage after kid(s) takes more intention, but I’m thankful for all the ways God grows, teaches and loves us through each other as we navigate new territory every single day.