Friday, July 25, 2008

Marriage Comes First

Before I had my baby, my parents told me that children bring couples back together. At that time, my husband and I had been married for about four years. I felt that we had what people called "married single". We barely spent time together. We sat down for a dinner together and after that we were busy with our own lives. I normally went to my den and he went to his. Then we went to bed together, only to crash after a tiresome day. When I found out I got pregnant, deep down I was hoping that my husband and I could be reconnected and be closer again with the arrival of our bundle of joy.

After I had my baby, I found what my parents say about having a child brings a couple back together again is a complete false statement. To say having kids ruin your marriage sound a bit unfair, but it really tests your relationship to a whole another level. All the sudden we can't have some time alone with one another. We can't go on a date, have a romantic dinner, go to the movies. One of the most difficult situation I have to face is our financial situation. When the-one-thousand-dollar-a-month daycare expense started to kick in, that was when my husband and I started to argue almost everyday. Suddenly, we can no longer spend our money however we wanted it. My husband handle our finances and he created a strict budget to cut down our expenses. We have x dollar amount to eat out, shop, buy grocery, etc. He was very adamant about us turning off the lights when leaving a room and turn off computer when not in use. He set up the temperature in the house to 80 degrees in the middle of hot summer to save electricity and he made me wash the dishes and clothes after 9 pm to avoid peak hour. The list goes on and on and on. There were times when I was considering leaving my husband because of that. There were times when we didn't speak to each other for days after having a fight. All of these changes were too much for me to handle. My husband spent hours playing with the numbers and budgeting instead of helping me caring for our toddler, which made me feeling even angrier at him. At the same time, my husband was also mad at me because I showed zero interest in discussing about our financial situation. How could I even discuss about our financial situation when it was just depressing me? Sounds familiar?

After months and months of arguing, I finally hit rock bottom when we had a big fight over a stupid reason. The truth is, it wasn't about the cause of that fight... we both were simply exhausted with our situation, and as a result, we had a meltdown.
It was days after we stopped talking that I finally took the initiative to talk about our issues. We both shared our feelings and tried to find solution. Listening to him made me realize where he's coming from. I realized had I paid more attention to our financial situation, it should be a lot easier for me to sacrifice in order to cut down our expenses. At the same time, I told him things that he needs to do to help me so I don't feel like being a single mom raising a toddler.

Things are a lot better now. I'm much more organized now than I ever before. Every weekend I make a weekly menu that I plan to cook. Based on that menu, I could create a grocery list. My husband clips coupons and does grocery shopping in the weekend while I take care of our son. All mothers out there know how challenging it is to do grocery shopping with your toddler. Sometimes while I prepare dinner, my husband would feed our son or play with him. A few days ago, my husband and I took a day off and sent our son to daycare so we can spend time together, just the two of us. We went to a local shopping strip area where there are a lot of small boutiques, had lunch at our favorite restaurant, and went to the movies. It was wonderful!!

I learned in order to save marriage, there are a few keys couple should follow:

1. Open communication is the key to a relationship.
Instead of blaming your spouse and telling him what to do, you should tell what you feel, what he feels, his opinion about the whole situation, and share thoughts about what you need to do.

2. Adjust your lifestyle.
Everybody knows that having a child changes your life completely. It is difficult in the beginning, but trust me... watching your child grows everyday and learns new things... it is all worth it.

3. Whenever possible, spend some quality time together with your spouse.
Hire a babysitter, take a day off, have someone in your family to watch your child, whatever it takes for you to go on a date with your spouse and spend some time together. There are some studies that show that the divorce rate is higher on family whose kids are all grown and left the house. Those couples finally realized that they are no longer connected because they put their children before everything else. It's important for every couple to know that your marriage is the foundation of the family, not your child.

I'm still learning throughout this whole parenthood. When I'm down, all I have to say to myself is my marriage is worth to save and I will do everything I could to provide a happy family to my son.

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