Sometimes I reminisce about my 20s dating life. A song comes on the radio and a memory flashes. I see myself precariously treading in heels through the icy parking lot of a banquet hall. The bitter January breeze bites the back of my neck as I contemplate the clanking of closing car doors ahead. What did it take to be one of those women – the women whose men knew it was only acceptable to let them out at the front door. I’m envious, no embarrassed. Still embarrassed in my recollection I’m awaken by the frustration of a suckling baby. It’s 3 A.M. I feel irrational resentment for my husband’s useless nipples. If only we could both breastfeed. My milk production is still low, and so the baby needs a bottle. I open the fridge to find one has already been made. I forgive him a bit for his useless nipples.
As a new mom my new life is hashtag hectic! Teamwork in marriage has a new meaning. And while our marriage and new parent teamwork is far from perfect, it does make me appreciate and value a few things. I consider the low criteria I set in my dating years and how the results of that could have been catastrophic in a marriage speak less in parenting. Simply put there are some things that absolutely matter in a dating relationship, if you expect to have a shot at surviving the challenges of marriage and family. Why Do People Say Marriage is Hard?
The guy who doesn’t drop you off at the front door and has you staggering through an icy parking lot is also the guy who won’t open your car door and help you into the car after childbirth. #realtalk! So either don’t keep dating that guy or teach him that you expect and require more.
Domestic Views Matter
Chores won’t do themselves. In our household we both cook, do laundry, load the dishwasher and Swiffer floors. If my husband believed that domestic chores were a woman’s job I would lose my mind. There’s simply not enough hours in a day to work a full time job and do all the housework. And now that we have a baby, it really requires teamwork.
Physical Attractiveness Matters
It matters that you are physically attracted to your spouse. Lots of couples gain relationship weight. Additionally, post baby both people will have less time in those initial first few months for personal upkeep. In this exact moment I’m wearing my husbands oversized t-shirt and it’s soaked in baby spit up. Both people will feel exhausted, less attractive and a bit gross at times. In those times its good to know that you still find your spouse attractive and that they still find you attractive. But if there was no physical attraction initially there certainly won’t be now. 10 Ways to Be More Attractive & Confident
Marriage is hard, and new parenting is even harder. You need to have undoubting trust that when the going gets tough your partner won’t step out on you. If there is a history of distrust or cheating it will only be heightened under the stress of new responsibility, hormones and the initial insecurities of a post baby body. Why People Cheat & Why It Doesn’t Matter if They Do
When you marry someone you really do marry their whole family. And if you choose to have kids then family engagement won’t just mean getting together for the holidays. With a new baby comes family traffic. Everyone wants to help and visit the new baby. After spending 40 weeks exclusively together, it can be challenging to let someone else help with the baby or give unsolicited advice. There will be moments of friction and disagreement despite the best family relationships. If you marry into a family you like, all of this is still challenging but easier. If you marry into a family you dislike you may be miserable.
If you plan to live in a good neighborhood, save to buy a home, have a child, etc. then money matters. How much money you have matters and if you don’t have tons of it, then your views on money matter even more. In a marriage you have to talk about money. Will both people work? If one person decides to stay home with kids how will that affect the household income? Are there savings goals? How will both people contribute to savings? Who will pay which bills? What things will we each splurge on and when is it appropriate? If I’m brown bagging lunches every week to save enough money to extend my maternity leave, and my spouse goes out and blows money on a new expensive pair of sneakers I might just be pissed. The tighter money is the more frugality, conversation and long term planning is necessary. Either way, not having enough money, or not having a plan regarding money can add to the stress of both marriage and parenting. Money, How Much Does it Matter in a Relationship?
How does your partner disagree with you? How do they argue? How do you both come to a compromise? Marriage is truly about compromise, and parenting is even more so. Compromise isn’t just meeting in the middle, it’s listening to your partner and making genuine effort to see their point of view. It’s not about winning, giving in or strategizing. I once dated a guy who was very good at arguing, he should have been a lawyer. He would win our fights by exhausting me. This isn’t a true win. In a true partnership your partners concerns and happiness are just as important to you as your own. Sometimes you will agree to let them have their way because you realize it is more important to them than it is to you. Other times you problem solve to find a solution that suits both people.
Find an opportunity to be on a team with your partner. Are they a sore loser? Do they cheat? Do they blame others or take responsibility? Some day you may find yourself tag team changing a massive poopy diaper for a screaming baby. A partner who impatiently plays the blame game won’t make it go any faster. Marriage, 4 Things I’ve Loved & Learned from my 1st Year
Marriage is a huge commitment and co-parenting is an even bigger one. Both are incredibly rewarding with brief FML moments! It’s only natural. But choose wisely, date smart and have standards. It’s better to get married later to the right person, someone who is a true life partner, than to rush it and marry the wrong person. With all the stress and sleep deprivation of new motherhood, I honestly can’t imagine what I would do if my partner wasn’t a partner.
What other standards do you think matter greatly?
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