Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! While this certainly isn’t my favorite holiday, I do enjoy the reminder to show the people I care about just how much I love them – my friends, my family, my husband… I feel like every relationship should be celebrated today, not just the romantic ones. So, here’s your morning reminder to tell the people you love just how much you care!
Today, I thought it would be fun to get a little deep and discuss our best marriage advice for other couples out there. My blogging friend, Emily, from Isn’t That Charming, is also pregnant (but with her third child!). She’s a former Chicago gal (now living in Michigan) and she shares all kinds of wonderful lifestyle content over on her blog. We were discussing how marriage changes during different life stages…pregnancy, parenting, etc. As we got to talking, we thought it would be fun to each share our best marriage advice on how we keep the romance alive and kicking throughout all of those times. Be sure to head over to Emily’s blog post to read about her marriage and her best tips to prioritize your relationship as parents.
A Strong Marriage Through Every Life Stage
As many of you know, Finn and I are high school sweethearts. In fact, we’ve been together for half our lives which is a bit mind-boggling. We’ve pretty much grown up together…from love drunk teenagers, to twenty-somethings trying to figure out our careers and finances as we hopped from city to city, to a couple facing difficult infertility challenges, and now as two soon-to-be parents. As we’ve evolved, our relationship has evolved right along with us and I think that’s been the key to our success.
We’ve been married over five years now and the last few years have been the hardest years of our relationship. Dealing with loss and infertility wasn’t a challenge we ever thought we would have to face. Finn recently told me that last year he remembers hugging me and not getting a “Casey hug” back. My body was lifeless in his arms and he worried that the old me would never return. And he was right. During those hard years, I wasn’t myself, yet he kept showing up for me every single day. Here he was, also grieving and struggling, and I wasn’t able to give him the support he probably needed.
I think it just shows that marriage is never 50/50. Sometimes one person in the relationship has to give more because the other person needs help. There is no scorecard. You choose a partner because you want someone to have your back when you need it most, knowing that you’ll have theirs when the time comes. You do things out of love and for the partnership as a whole. We actually shared a bit more about this in this marriage post.
Now, I’d argue that we’re the happiest we’ve ever been as we await the arrival of our little girl. Because we were in such a sad place, it’s making this joyful time of pregnancy feel even more special and amazing. We feel lucky. We feel grateful. And we feel more connected than ever, however, I know that’s not the case for every expecting couple. A baby is a huuuuge life change and nine months somehow doesn’t feel like a long enough time to prepare your home, your life, and your marriage for such a dramatic shift. Here’s what’s helping us as we navigate these nine months…
I know, I know, communication is always the #1 marriage advice people give, but when you’re pregnant it seems more important than ever. There’s A LOT to do when you’re expecting your first child – finding a pediatrician, signing up for baby classes, planning a baby shower.. It’s overwhelming and it can feel like the majority of the tasks falls on the mom-to-be. Communicating with your partner and telling them what you need is always a good idea, since no one is a mind reader. I believe this constant communication prevents lots of fighting in our marriage because it shows that we respect each other and each other’s time.
I’m someone who really likes to plan and sometimes I throw way too much at Finn (like sending him 25 Google calendar invites in an afternoon. Guilty). After learning from that experience, I recently said something like, “Here’s the huge list of items we need to get done before the baby is born. I’ve broken it down into monthly to-dos.” Then, we discussed what Finn will do (mostly take care of financial prep for baby), what I’ll do (curate the baby registry), and what we’ll do together (attend baby courses). Finn knows what I expect from him and I know what I can handle on my own. This has been a good tactic for us as we’ve done our best to prepare for the arrival of our baby girl.
Connect with Baby Together
I’ve had a doctor’s appointment every week or every other week throughout my entire pregnancy (yeah, it’s a lot of appointments!). It just isn’t possible for Finn to come to every appointment, but he does make a point to come to the big ones. We get to learn about our baby girl’s progress and always ooh and aah over all of the cute ultrasound pictures. We always try to make a little date out of these outings, stopping for donuts before an early appointment or taking a long lunch if our appointment is later. It’s nice to take this time to be together and chat all things baby.
Finn always says he is jealous because I get so much time with the baby (ha, not sure we can change that right now!). So at night, we always take time to lay on the couch and talk to her together. Finn puts his hands on my belly so he can feel her squirming around and he calls it his daddy-daughter time. A bulk of this pregnancy is happening to me, but involving him in any way I possibly can makes him feel included and I know he is just as excited as I am!
Schedule Nights Out
Chicago has so many amazing restaurants and we realize that soon it will be tough to head out on a Friday night for date night. So, I actually went and booked reservations at some of our favorite restaurants in the city for March and April. That way, we have some great date nights to look forward to and we can hit up the best spots one last time before our baby girl arrives. I also need to work on other activities (a pre-baby bucket list) that we want to accomplish before she arrives.
Our Parenting Goal: Strong Marriage = Strong Parents
We know we’re not parents yet, but we’ve always said that no matter what, we’re always going to do our best to put our marriage first because a strong and happy marriage will only make us better parents. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your child’s life and make everything all about them, however, we’ve both vowed to prioritize our marriage, no matter what. And we’re already trying to figure out the best neighborhood babysitters so we can continue enjoying regular date nights out!
I know we have the biggest life change barreling towards us at 100mph, but we feel ready and excited for this next chapter. Of course, a baby is going to change things. It would be impossible not to! However, we are looking forward to this next stage in our marriage. I’m pretty sure I’m going to fall even more in love with Finn when I see him become a dad. Yep, I know it will be just about the sexiest thing ever.
Again, I hope you hop over and check out Emily’s blog post detailing her best marriage tips. Now, parents out there, give us allllll your marriage advice! What’s the best thing you did to have a strong marriage with a newborn and young children? We are all ears!Casey