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From Amieee ~ I don't disagree with the above statement at all. In fact, I agree wholeheartedly. I just need to ask why does a happy ***family*** not matter? I think it is unhealthy to think that you have to get away from the baby in order to be a good couple. It is how you interact on a daily basis, in ordinary times, that make you strong, IMO.
I admit on several occasions that I have thought it would be nice to have a break from the baby, but that does not mean that I really want to leave her with a sitter or that I can't connect with my DH with her around. We go out all the time, just bring her with us. We have fun and find ways to stay connected with her around. We take advantage of moments when we can. Yet people tell us we need to get out apart from the baby. Well, we have done this one time, and honestly it wasn't so great. Not only was there lots of pressure ("This is our night out, quick, we need to have fun!") it just wasn't all that refreshing after all. I know one couple that has a 3 week old and already started a weekly "date night" sans baby when she was a week old.
No, it is not easy, but is it possible?
My daughter is young (6 months); I know it will get more difficult as she gets older.
What do you think, and in addition to that, how do you stay connected without it being just the two of you?
From threebabe ~ I agree that a "happy" family and "happily married parents" make for a happier baby than the alternative, which would be unhappy parents. However, I think that spending time alone with DH totally depends on your situation. I agree that you can spend "connected" time with dh and your baby. But, I not only have a baby, I also have an 8 year old and a 4 year old. When we are all together DH and I focus on our children and the "family" . . . yes, we talk and laugh, etc . . . but, the focus is on them almost constantly. Honestly, the daily in's and out's of our lives leave very little time for connecting with each other. So, DH and I do take time alone; about once a month we go out and grandparents babysit. We focus on each other and totally catch up!! It is not that we need a break from our children . . . we just need uninterrupted time for each other. It also gives my children quality time with their grandparents which is very important in our family.
From Dash'sMama ~ I agree with you wholeheartedly. I'm more than a little tired of people offering to babysit my son so my husband and I can go out on our own. We had 18 years to do fun things together and go on dates before the baby was born, now it is time to be a family. We take Dash out to dinner with us and have since he was 2 weeks old. We have taken him with us to the movies (but will wait to do that again because the sound is cranked up so high in the theaters I'm afraid it will hurt his hearing), to parades, to outdoor concerts, to the beach, and traveled with him on an airplane. He even worked a full Renaissance faire with us, in costume, when he was 5 months old. Except for the movies, there's really not anyplace we would normally go that he couldn't come with us.
I think its just another example of how marginalized children have become in our society. It's gotten worse than children should be seen and not heard. Now children shouldn't even be seen or spend time with their parents. Poor little babies
From jmkmom ~ I think you are right when you say you think it will get harder as your child gets older. There is a huge difference between having one 6 month old baby and having an older child and/or multiple children (I don't mean that as a put down because I know just having a 6 month old is plenty of work ). We have two children, an almost 4 year old and a 1 year old. Usually on our weekends we are with them constantly. Maybe twice a month we get out on our own (if we are lucky). There is a huge difference in our alone time than with the children time.
When we go out with the children we are both preoccupied with feeding them, keeping them happy, changing a diaper, keeping 3 year old's feet planted on floor, etc, etc. There are times we barely have time to eat our own food let alone have a conversation.
When we go out alone we get to ditch the diaper bag, go to a movie for a change and linger over dessert. No coats to bundle on and off, no faces to wipe, no outbursts to manage, no food to cut, nothing, GLORIOUSLY, nothing. PLUS . . . I usually find myself missing our children quite a bit and find myself even happier to see them than if I hadn't left them in the first place.
So while I think it IS important to spend family time with mom, dad and children, it is also equally important for mom and dad to get out alone and have married time.
From SonjaG ~ We haven't left Toby with a sitter for evenings out alone except maybe once or twice, and once was our anniversary. Both times, it seemed rather pointless, because we did things like see a movie (where you aren't really communicating with each other), and we/I kept wanting to call and check on Toby. Most of the time, we just take him with us, even if it will be a late dinner--at this age, he'll sleep whenever he wants to/is tired even if it is in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Whenever we go to a friend's house for dinner, we always take Toby with us. Another area that relates to this is church nurseries, and I think there has already been a post on that subject. We don't use the church nursery, ourselves.
The way I see it is that we're a family of three now. DH and I get alone time after Toby goes to bed. When Toby is up we have a lot of quality time together playing with him, discussing life plans over Toby's head, since those life plans include him (later, Toby will have a say in those plans).
From Gayesy ~ I think that many people simply don't see how it is possible to have a good marriage without regularly getting away from the kids. Obviously SOME time alone together is nice, but that doesn't have to mean whole weekends or using babysitters every week. Children sleep!
We have gone out a LOT since Thomas was born but have rarely done so without him. Now that he is older, he is quite happy to be with my parents for a short time (and very soon they will be minding him on Saturday afternoons while DH and I attend ante-natal classes). When he was younger though, we just took him along with us to dinner, movies, even once to a nightclub type place (sedate kind!) where he got up on the dance floor and had a real blast.
Especially when baby is very young, parents can get lots of talking together while baby is happily nursing away or dozing in the sling. It is a bit harder for DH and I to have a conversation now when Thomas is around because he likes to exercise his voice a lot! But we still do communicate!
You can be a couple within a family! The two things don't have to be kept separate in my opinion. Even outings where we take Thomas to a playground, he can be happily playing and we can be watching him, waving etc, but still holding hands together and talking, KWIM?
From robina ~ I think that it's imperative that your children see that your relationship is happy. And I think it's especially important that they see that you and your spouse come first, even before them. This is not to say that you need to ignore your children's needs or do the weekly date night thing if you're not comfortable (we've been on two dates without him since Michael's birth and one of them was leaving him with my dad). Andy's parents just divorced after 26 years of marriage and I am convinced that their relationship failed because it was never their first priority. His mom was 110% invested in the kids; his dad was 110% invested in his job (which was ministry). Once the children were gone, his mom realized there was nothing left for her in the relationship. They didn't know each other. On the other hand, my brother and I always knew that my dad loved my mom more than he would ever love either of us (and vice versa). I don't remember them having lots of dates without us, but I do remember seeing daily evidence that although we were loved a lot, mom and dad came first. I always felt very secure. Andy's mom cried when the kids went to college; my parents didn't--they enjoyed their quiet evenings together. I am all the more grateful that their priorities were so in order since my mom died three years ago, only a year after I graduated from college.
I think your children need to see that you place your married relationship first; however, I think that there are ways of showing it without getting a babysitter. Your children are only so young and "needy" for a little while. I plan on lots of dates when the kids are old enough to enjoy an evening without Mom and Dad, but Michael's not there yet.
From katgirl67 ~ I got this a lot from my family when Max was younger. One aunt even suggested that she take Max while we take a trip! Um, yeah. Sure. *sarcasm* "Happily married," as you guys obviously know since everyone is putting quotes around the phrase is so subjective! Anyone who is telling you that you need to do something to fit into their definition of "happily married" is outta line,IMHO.
I've had quite a few fantasies about going out to a movie and not being a mommy for a few hours. Who hasn't? But I don't think that my marriage is suffering because I am caring for Max. Anyone who even suggests that it might doesn't know us very well.
My mom, who is divorced from my dad, blames "the kids" for being a problem in the marriage, so I get it a lot from her. (I don't know what the heck she's talking about since she left me REGULARLY with my aunt, even during separation anxiety.)
From KandJ ~ I'm so glad to see this post. DH and I have been out 3 times in almost a year. We don't feel like we are missing anything or suffering as a couple. DS goes to bed by 8 and takes 3-4 hours of naps a day . . . we do have some alone time, just not out.) When we need to go out we just take our son along and it is much more fun. We both work and we are away from him too much as it is. We also have no family within 800 miles so there really isn't anyone who wants to have time with him either. Anyway, our situation is working just fine without "breaks" from the baby.
From SusanH ~ We have never gone out without Susy J. This is due partly to our lack of interest in a "date night" and largely to our being several thousand miles away from anyone I would be willing to leave her with. We have no family here and no one that Susy knows well enough to be happy with, so leaving her is just out of the question for now.
I don't believe that the marital relationship is more important than the parent-child relationship. They are both important and I don't know that two such different dynamics can really be compared. I need to be there for Susy in a way that I do not need to be there for my DH, and vice versa. I don't want my children to believe that any member of the family is more or less important than any other member--we are a team, not different factions competing for attention and love.
From Shra ~ Both of us are very much in love with each other. We enjoyed each other before our daughter came into our lives. Now we enjoy each other even more as we watch us taking care of our daughter. I watch with so much pleasure what a wonderful father my DH is. My love deepens when I see him make small meaningful gestures for both of us all the time. I don't miss the couple time. We get that when DD is asleep. The family time enriches our lives. I don't think it is necessary to leave my DD with a babysitter to have quiet time with my DH. I can always find the time by working around my dd's schedule. This works for my family. But, every family is unique and their needs are unique. You have to do the best you can for your family. If that means getting couple time away from children, then so be it.
From kiki's_momma ~ I don't think couples should feel obligated to have couple time away from the baby if they don't need it. OTOH, I think having kids can put a lot of stress on a marriage if it isn't really strong in the first place or if there are communication issues. In that case, it takes more effort to keep the marriage functioning and this might mean husband and wife need to enjoy some time together alone without distractions (e.g., housework needs doing, baby waking up, etc.) I do think that keeping the marriage intact should be a top priority for families with children. If date night is what it takes, so be it. At the same time, though, I think couples should be respectful of the children's needs when taking time away from them. My folks left me and my sister at my aunt's for two weeks when I was about 8 when they went to Europe. I imagine they couldn't afford to take us and thought it would be too hard to travel with an 8 year old and a 5 year old, but I remember feeling very abandoned and left out at the time.
It sounds as if lots of you have great marriages and are really good at getting your needs met without having to leave the kids with a sitter, which is really wonderful. For my dh and me, good communication and emotional intimacy are areas we are still learning about and working on. Before baby, we neglected our marriage for our careers and almost lost each other so we are very attuned to not letting the parent-child relationships totally overshadow the spousal relationship. I know that I have a problem with letting baby snuggle time fulfill most of my needs for physical comfort to the detriment snuggle time with dh. I actually was going to post a topic to ask if other have had this problem but this thread seemed related. Can any of your relate?
From Amieee ~ Lauren, you bring up a great point I kind of forgot about! I guess I was thinking about the emotional aspect rather than the physical. I think that aspect of our marriage needs to be worked on because I do forget about DH's need to snuggle, since I am kind of touched out. But I know that affection is one of DH's top love languages, I should really pay more attention to meeting that need of his. I don't see a date night really fixing that, though. I guess I need to be more aware of that on a daily basis. Thanks for mentioning it!
From SharonCC ~ We haven't left and gone on a "date" without kids in years. In fact, I think Zachary was a toddler. The last movie I saw in the theatre was Toy Story 2. You get the drift. We're still happily married, though.
From dominic'smom ~ I don't believe in any way that a spousal relationship comes before your parent/child relationship. I refuse to believe that families were created for some type of competition. I believe I owe it to my children to be a good role model in my relationship with Jon. It is only fair since my parents were the best in that aspect for me. I found someone to spend my life with that understood there were going to ebbs and flows in our relationship physical or emotional. My husband is a wonderful man and he knows that if I have to choose between meeting his needs or Dominic's needs, he better be patient. UM 19 month old vs. 29 year old. No contest.
Our relationship, although not as physical as it was before we had Dominic, is not lacking in anyway. We have been out maybe 4 or 5 times since Dominic was born. (My mom drooled for the chance believe me.) In fact I feel so much more in love than ever . . . he is now the father of my child; not just my husband. I realized this the moment they handed me our son. My first words were "Now we're a family!" through my tears of joy.
From robinack33 ~ I also do not agree that a husband should become before children. In fact, I think the opposite. This may alarm some, but if I had to choose, it would be my son. My MIL, my parents and all my siblings INSIST that we go out ALONE. They feel every couple should have a DATE NIGHT. Well, too bad, we don't. There is no reason too. First, we have don't have the money to go out every week and two, we don't want to. I have alone time with DH every night after DS goes to bed. We go out to eat at restaurants with DS. We never took him to a movie or club though. We go out as a family.
Our relationship has changed, it isn't what it was like before DS, but we are both satisfied and happy. We adapted.
From djk42 ~ We have a rule that our baby is left with no one but family for the first six months, and then only if needed. That means no nursery - a sleeping baby can be held during service thank you very much, and no going out to eat alone, as a baby can be put in a baby carrier while eating if you need both hands free. My husband took me out to eat for my birthday and we got a sitter (grandpa) for the toddlers and took the baby with us. If we did leave a baby, we would have to be back in less than two hours so that I can feed her--the stress of the one time we left Beth was much worse than not being alone, trust me!
Another one we often get is that a family bed is bad for our marriage. Well, since we have three kids in our bed, we are obviously still finding time for married people things, don't you think? *blush* Yes, we do need time alone, but often that is putting the kids to bed early or staying up late and renting a movie. We have a snuggle time some days after daddy gets home from work and we all pile into bed together. We put the baby between us or in a safe place and hug each other tight while the older kids run around us and jump on us like pigs fighting over dinner (which is how I feel some days anyway). From time to time my husband throws them out and tells them to go play or we put a video in for them. There are certain things we don't say or do in front of the kids, but spending time as a family is important too, so when the kids are awake we try to include them.
If YOU find that you need a night out, then take it, but don't follow someone else's recipe if yours tastes good the way it is. When your child gets older you may need a night out (not for the sake of your marriage maybe so much as grown-up time with other couples perhaps), but if it ain't broke, don't tinker under the hood with false expectations or it could be.
From Lenore ~ Well said! Every family, every couple is different. Some couples need a sort of scheduled "connect time," others don't. What works for YOUR family is right. (And ALWAYS ignore nagging from those who think their way is the only way... )
From Y Thingy ~ My baby is still so little and portable that DH and I have no problem taking him out. He usually sleeps through his entire outing, missing the pretty flowers in the park and the birds in the lake.
DH and I still have interesting conversations everyday (usually with DS in daddy's arm). I don't see why we need to go out to stay connected. In fact, our relationship hasn't changed much since baby arrived. I usually kiss DH and scratch his back while he's giving DS a bottle. We can rent a video, hold baby and watch it together. We snuggle up in our big bed with baby. When DS does something cute DH would thank me for making such a cute baby. So far baby has only made our relationship stronger.