Relationships are hard. There are 101 things that make being an adult an adjustment and then you add another adult into the mix, making it even more of a challenge.
Now, put both adults who are having a hard time “adulting” and make them cohabit: share a bed, a bathroom, groceries, bills and possibly even a bank account, and we often wonder why we even chose a relationship to begin with! I won’t even mention adding tiny humans, as I am sure you get the picture.
I am an extremely visual person. I imagine my life like a book (maybe that is the writer in me) and “staying on the same page” in a relationship is often our life’s work. There are lots of events that create these difficult situations. Like the time you landed your first job, but your best friend didn’t. That was hard. Or when you were able to go on your first paid vacation, but your brother or sister had to take the pay cut for that family vacation. That was hard. Or when you got laid off and you were no longer able to contribute to the family income. That was really hard. If we aren’t careful, this is where resentment can creep in and we all know where that leads.
Sometimes the events are less obvious. These seem to be the ones that wreak the most havoc because they are subtle.
One day you wake up and you are in a whole new chapter but have no clue what just happened or how you got there. I notice my husband and I turn our pages at different speeds, and I often find myself trying to turn his pages for him (that’s kind of the worst by the way; I wouldn’t suggest that). Most of the time we don’t even realize what is happening until the friction is there and we have to work even harder to “get back on the same page.” So we talk, or don’t talk, or slam doors which may also be accompanied with or without crying (usually with tears in my case with), or in the worse cases, sleeping on the couch. But in the end, we either get back to the same page, or we accept we are in different places and are patient with the other.
I have found it is in these different places that our relationship strengthens. We are forced to remember why we are together and rely on our foundation to get us through. If we are really lucky, we can see the event coming and can prepare ourselves to be on different pages. So, facing the arrival of our third baby AND armed with two previous births which resulted in feeling more like I was in completely separate book, I prepared for this page turner.
Enter the date night jar. It cost me a whopping $3 and about 30 minutes to make and will hopefully (has so far) save our door jams from future construction. The date jar list includes dates that can be done after the older kids go to bed while we are adjusting to life with a newborn. It also includes dates that can get us out of the house in the evening, as well as during the day. Because I am Type A, they are all organized by different types of paper (patterned paper we need a sitter, solid we do not). My husband draws one each week, a few days in advance, which allows us time to prepare (like for dinner reservations or a movie).
There are many that didn’t make the cut because despite the allure of sipping wine while painting, I just don’t think I could convince the hubs to go to Wine and Design Couple Night with me. (Any moms interested? I’m always game!) All of the dates do, however, hold promises of relationship bonding that is necessary at this time in our life.
I am no relationship expert and 8 years of marital bliss page turning, makes me far from qualified to be the next Dr.Phil, but this works for us and I am hopeful this list will be a good place to start to make the challenges of relationships a little brighter for you, too!