Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marriage and (Young) Parenthood

Disclaimer: I do not profess to being an expert on marriage. In fact, I am far from this. This blog entry serves to share a very small glimpse into my take on the subject.

We are coming up to our 9th year of marriage (in August) and in our 12 years of being together, we've certainly experienced our fair share of highs and lows as would any couple.

Once again, no books nor experiences from other couples can prepare anyone adequately for a single most life changing experience like parenthood.

I think because we've had a lot of time being with each other before Charlotte and Daniel came into our lives, we've also had time to grow in our shared values.

Being new parents to twins is a life altering experience in itself. I doubt I need to go through the pitfalls of sleep deprivation, the intensive nurturing in the first few months, the loss of identities, the lack of motivation for anything except our children, etc.

The single advice that keeps popping up regularly is "Put your marriage #1". This advice comes from the same person who told me that "Routine! Routine! Routine!" is essential with newborns. This person is my boss at work. She's been married for over 35 years, a mother to three men and a grandmother to 10 grandchildren. Yes, she knows a thing or two about marriage. Yes, again, she is my boss.

We have not so much re-invented the wheel but refined the way in which we perceive is important to us as individuals and in doing so, grow in our marriage. Marriage needs to be nurtured through the different stages of our lives and we work on it together. Here's what's being refined:

We both need "Me Time" and to stop playing the calculative game
I have learnt to respect and understand the need for Jared to have his time, with his hobby. He has also learnt that I too need my time on my own. So this is how we do it.

He spends 3 hours in the mornings of Saturday and Sunday with his hobby. Me, instead of sulking at home (in the past) about being dumped with the kids now sees me and the kids out for an extended walk because they still enjoy being in their pram and I enjoy the peace + quieit and also the health benefits associated with exercise.

Jared will buy lunch home and the kids will be having their afternoon naps. We get to catch up with each other and when the kids wake up, I then hybernate in the master bedroom for 2 hours or so (either on Saturday or Sunday) with ear plugs to enjoy a spot of reading or nap while he enjoys quality time with the children.

Every few months, I will go out with my girlfriend for a chick flick and meal. Just like the good old times. Everything within reason.

Couple Time
Once in awhile, a friend will offer to twin sit and we leap at that opportunity to go out on a date. It's so important to remember that many moons ago, it was just us. It's also lovely to get dressed up and to have a lovely meal, just like the old times!

In recent times, we've also realised that we can enjoy couple time too so long as the kids are occupied! It started a few sundays ago over beer and home-roasted peanuts underneath our patio at home. It was just wonderful. Since then, a new routine has taken place!

By the way, I was never good with alcohol. Half a glass of any alcoholic beverage would render me legless. Seriously. After giving birth, it's a whole new different story!

Routine for the children =  Quality Time for parents
Charlotte and Daniel are in bed by 6:30pm since they started sleeping through the night as newborns from 11 weeks. As you have read from this blog, they tend to change this on us from time to time. On the scale of things, they are pretty good at keeping to this routine and we are very lucky. When they go to bed, we catch our breathes and each other! When they decide to turn the tide, we are there to support each other through the disruptions.

Harness the positives in each other
Take advantage of each other's skills. For example, I am the more organised person in our marriage so I work the schedule, meals, etc. Jared's the more patient one so he does the bath time with the kids and teaches them how to brush their teeth, etc.

Be kind to each other and to be there for each other
Quite often, it is much easier to be unkind to each other when disagreements occur (especially when little arguments go unresolve over a period of time) and I am a culprit of this due to my impatience. Quite often, all it takes is a hug or a touch that conveys Thank you and I love you.

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