G and I have been married for almost 4 years, together for over 8. We spent 4 of those years (while in college) long distance. Sometimes it feels like we've been together forever, and sometimes I'll look at him and think, "there's still so much to learn about you."
I don't know where this started, but G and I do "relationship check-ins" often; what we're happy with, what we feel needs more work, our latest appreciations and annoyances... it's just been a good way for us to always make sure we're on the same page. When it came time to decide to start trying, we talked extensively about how a baby would change our relationship. Change isn't always bad, but it felt good to try to prepare and make the decision with realistic expectations. Some of these conversations were full of fear and tears, because of course we've heard the horror stories (I wrote about some of my fears here).
"Babies ruin everything."
"It's not the same after a baby."
"The romance is gone."
"The fun is done."
We were adamant that we had not worked this hard on our relationship, for this long, to risk anything. So as Dylan's first birthday is quickly approaching, how have we fared? Better and stronger than ever. I love him more. And not just in the, "oh, he's my child's father" type of way. In the, "I chose right, I knew it" kind of way. Not to say that we didn't have a few lapses... a few hiccups along the way.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to get a little crazy; full of emotions and panic and hormones and G did everything and nothing wrong all at the same time. The first six weeks after Dylan was born was just survival mode. After that though, we got into a routine and everything was fine. 'Fine' was okay with us for awhile, but about six months into being parents, G sat down with a relationship check-in and told me that he wanted... that he needed... more. We had gotten into this routine of being great partners in tackling the demands of being new parents, that we had left our romantic relationship on the back burner. We were the best of friends at that point, we were comrades who appreciated and had great fun with one another, but that wasn't going to be enough. It was a good wake-up call that just because you're not at each others' throats, just because there isn't conflict, doesn't mean that things are great. The opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference.
We have always strived for great. Great is the stuff that takes us into our eighties still crazy about each other, you know? So since that talk, we've worked harder to be what we need for each other. We shoveled around responsibilities, duties, schedules... we compromised and the biggest thing is we communicate. We talk to each other all the time. About everything. We laugh and tease and share and remind each other what we were like before we became working adults and parents and we try to bring those people out more often too. We're better people for this. We've always been on the same team, but it's good after a long day to actually look at each other for more than a minute and really see with your eyes all the things you originally fell in love with. We have deep discussions about our beliefs and our spirituality. We touch and flirt, and not just on date night (all though date nights are more than priceless). We flirt during the work day and while doing housework.
So yes, our relationship changed after having a baby. Yes, it is still alot of work. And yes, we still have our arguments and sometimes just for old-times sake, I'll still be crazy. But we'd better get used to it because life is going to throw alot more our way in the next 60 years and we'll have to learn how to adapt and remold our relationship time and time again.
But as far as I'm concerned, the fun is far from being done...