Being married is a shitload of hard work.
You walk down the aisle and commit yourself to someone for life assuming everything will feel like it does at that moment. It is impossible to grasp how many times you will be asked to bend and flex without breaking.
When you add children to the mix, you invite an element of complexity to your relationship that cannot be comprehended beforehand. There are days consumed with exhaustion, frustration and sometimes mind numbing boredom.
It seems in the age of hyper-focusing on children, marriages can suffer. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day well-being of your children and lose focus on your spouse. It requires consistent dedication and re-dedication to your partner, a task not easily accomplished.
I am certainly no expert. My ex-husband and I divorced when our children were 3 and 4 years old. There had been cracks in the foundation for a while. In the blink of an eye those cracks turned into a crater, and he was standing on the other side. We could not find our way back to each other. We’ve both since remarried and I made a promise to myself to not repeat history.
In light of that, I try to live by the following rules as a reminder of my responsibility to my spouse and our children. We do so with as much humor as we can muster.
1. Forget the blame game. It’s easy to feel like you are making more sacrifices than your partner some days. Unless the scales are tipped immensely in one direction, stop counting. For instance, I like to load the dishwasher. My husband likes to come behind me at a later time and reload the dishwasher I loaded because he’s “helpful” like that. So, does that count as us both completing the task? I don’t know, I’m not counting. (Seriously though honey, fucking stop it.)
2. One word: babysitter. Seriously, find a couple of people you trust and guard them with your life. Do not hesitate to pee on their leg to mark your territory if other parents come sniffing around.
3. Parenting is a time-consuming and thankless job. Ask your partner what you can do to make their lives easier and give it to them whenever you can. My husband would most likely answer this with “blowjobs.” Mine would be “a ticket to a deserted island only occupied with wine, sweatpants, and a sign that says “Blowjobs are a felony. Perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” To each his own.
4. You don’t always need to have the last word. Even if you think you are right. Which you most likely are. But seriously, just let it go. I mean it. Stop talking and let me be clear, you don’t need the last word.
5. Don’t feel bad letting your kids watch TV or play electronics when you need a break. Especially if that break involves sneaking upstairs to have sex. Or drink a glass of wine in your bedroom closet by yourself.
6. Compliments go a long way. Send funny, flirty texts if you are away. Tell them how awesome they are at wiping poopy butts. Mention they are the hottest piece of ass you’ve ever seen as they are getting up with the baby. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.
7. Have as much sex as possible (are you sensing a theme here)? It doesn’t have to be rainbows and candlelight every time. In fact, that sounds excruciating. Sometimes, with just enough alcohol and good lighting, the bedroom closet or local bar bathroom can be sexy. So I’ve heard….
8. Say yes more than you say no. To walks, movie dates, spontaneous ice cream runs, and sex. Say yes to sex a lot. I have friends that keep planners so they can track how often they have sex with their partners to ensure they don’t go more than a week without. Sound unspontaneous? Perhaps, but I am almost positive they have more sex over the course of their marriage than most of us. And who doesn’t love checking off one more item off a To-Do list.
9. Don’t talk negatively about each other. Sure it’s easy to sit down with a bottle of wine and good friends and blow off steam. But intimate details and trash talk as casual conversation can undermine not only your relationship, but eventually your opinion of your partner. Keep it lighthearted as much as possible. Feel free to keep telling me about the back waxing stories though. That shit is funny.
10. Finally, remember why you married each other in the first place. Let go of the day-to-day drama that is life with children. Lock arms and remember you are on the same team.
Now give a little grab on the ass, call your babysitter, and go forth and have sex in a public bathroom. I promise, this will solve more problems than you think.