Meet the Sullivans: One Year and Beyond - Keeping Your Marriage Alive With a Toddler

July 10, 2014

One Year and Beyond - Keeping Your Marriage Alive With a Toddler

Hello! Welcome to the first installment of the One Year and Beyond series, round two!

We all know motherhood can be difficult, especially with a toddler at home. So we're here to talk toddler issues, mom to mom! For the next eight weeks a group of 10 moms and I will be hosting this series on toddler issues ranging from the joys of summer fun to dealing with separation anxiety, and so much else in between. Each week we will discuss a different subject -- you can find the schedule of topics below.

None of us are experts, but we can all share our experiences and tips, and hopefully learn something from one another!

before becoming parents: young, carefree(ish) and well rested!

Boy has our free-time changed since we had Owen! Gone are the days when we took date nights for granted, that's for sure! We would meet up with friends for dinner and drinks, go on casual dates to the movies and out for pizza, or up to the city to see a show and have a fancy dinner, sleep in, spend our time however we wanted -- we basically did what our hearts desired with little thought to planning ahead. These days, a lot more planning and scheming has to be done if we want to get some time alone together, besides the hour or two between Owen's bedtime and when we hit the sheets.It takes extra work to get our quality time in, but it's SO worth it!

since becoming parents: filled with joy, a tad tired and living our dream with our little fam.

Thing is, before Keith and I were married we had a very real idea of what our goal in marriage was. We both wanted children, and a life that revolved around family. So, while the initial change in our lives was a bit of a shock (having a newborn can be a sobering experience for newlyweds!), we have adjusted well to our new "busy" life with a child over the last 2 1/2 years.

This is the marriage we wanted, one where the hours in our days are filled by spending time with our little family -- but we still need a little time for US every once in a while, and here's how we make it work:

We try to get out for a date once a month, if not more. It's not easy making time for "us". We're lucky to have a big family, lots of great friends and tons to celebrate, but this also makes it hard to have scheduled date nights. Thankfully Keith and I both look forward to getting out on our own at least once a month, so we make sure it happens. 

It doesn't have to be a long date, or even at night, but we try to fit something in as much as we can. Even if it means we drop Owen off at my moms for an hour while we run to Target alone, or have Keith's mom watch the monitor after Owen is asleep so we can run out to a late movie. Our "alone time" doesn't have to include getting all done up and a fancy dinner. All that's required is US.

But when we can't get out, we stay IN for date night. At night, after Owen is in bed, we try to close our computers and turn our phones on silent so we can so something together. Here's a list of 15 Ideas for a Date Nights IN that I created a while back to keep our date nights at home interesting and different.
We have fun together, doing whatever we're doing. Like most parents and couples, we just try to make the best of even the most mundane tasks like folding laundry, washing the car, grocery shopping, etc.

We keep positive attitudes. Two of my favorite things about my husband are his happy-go-lucky attitude and his sense of humor, and I believe he likes the same traits in me. No, I don't think we're the funniest people you've ever met, but we get each other's sense of humor and that can make all the difference when you're stuck in traffic with a cranky toddler or are scrambling to make dinner. Even when there are bigger issues in our lives, like after my dad passed away, we know we can depend on each other to lean on and lighten the mood when needed.

We listen to each other talk about the things we don't care much about. Sounds harsh, but please hear me out. He listens to me talk about blogs or whatever, and I listen to him talk about sports or video games. We're each other's bestfriend, and bestfriends lend an ear when you have something to share. It means a lot to me when Keith listens to me talk about what's important, so I know I want to do the same for him.

We make plans. Having something to look forward to together is always uplifting. Planning for something fun to do in the future has always made us happy. We plan to see a movie we're excited about when it comes out. We plan to try a restaurant that sounds interesting to us. We plan vacations.

We dream together. Sounds cheesy, but dreams of more children, owning a home and maybe even a business someday helps us bond. Sharing your hopes and dreams with someone you love (and hearing theirs in return) strengthens your bond.

As I said earlier, we've got a great group of mamas who are offering their advice on getting through those challenging times with their child. Be sure to check out their blogs and then link up your own post on the topic with us below!

July 10: Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17: Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24: Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31: Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7: Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14: Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21: Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28: Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)


Jamie @ The Jamie's + 1 said...

Love this link up and love all your advice! Thanks so much for sharing!

Nina Robinson said...

Great tips! A positive attitude and a sense of humor really does make all the difference in a happy relationship.

The Joni Journey

Tawnya Faust said...

I agree that sharing dreams is something important, so cheesy but I was totally going to add it to my list also :) I love your point of view on this one and I love your post on suggestions for date nights in! Thanks for hosting the link up!

Sara McCarty said...

I'm so glad to see this series continued! Such a great idea and I'm so excited to read all the posts and meet some of the new bloggers. Love all the topics for this round! Mim's impending arrival is keeping me from participating this time, but I hope to be back for Round 3 (if everyone decides to continue it). Great post!

Heather Leigh_A beautiful ministry said...

AH love this one!! :)

Laureen said...

Yes, always enjoy reading this series!! Great tips and reminders. :)

Leah @ Everyday Love said...

Such a great post, agree with all of these. I don't know what I would do if hubs didn't have a positive outlook, it make such a big difference!

Ashley Brickner said...

Great post, mama!!! Sounds like you guys are doing a great job!!! Xo

Jessica said...

Love this - especially the whole "listen to each other talk about things you don't care much about". So, so true! That's just what you do when you care about each other:)

Courtney [Sweet Turtle Soup] said...

Well written! Awesome tips. Share your dreams, I love it. Monitor babysitting is my fave!

Laura Marie Keenan said...

Love that first picture of you two! I agree with so much of what you said. Sounds like you & Keith have quite the happy little family!

Sarah said...

Love that you guys dream together, we do too, and it's so important to have something to work towards!

Sarah @ The Not Quite Military Wife said...

We are doing the stay in date night this weekend, anything to keep the spark alive!

Alyssa said...

Love this series and hope to link up for it! This is something that has been really, really lacking right now. With both of us working full time, we feel soo guilty leaving the kids when we could be home with them so I am trying to get better at nights "in" when they go to sleep. Love the ideas - it really is so important!

Courtney B said...

Oh my gosh, yes! It really is so important to listen to each other talk about things we don't really have any interest in! Eric looooooooves to talk about cars and his plans to rebuild his chevelle... and I could honestly care less. But it makes him SO happy talking about it and I can see the joy written all over his face. So I indulge :) It's amazing how quickly we can hurt each others feelings when we don't want to listen to each other, thus leading to us avoiding bringing up new subjects for fear of rejection again.

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

We dream together....I love this!