We’re Just Two Crankypants Ships That Pass in the Night

By Megan

My sweet husband and I are fast becoming strangers, as we’ve divided up a great deal of this phase of double-parenting into shifts, and in those minutes when one or both of us aren’t occupied wiping or soothing or feeding or playing Candyland, we’re both completely beat, cranky and don’t have another ounce of energy to meet one another’s needs.

And I know we should be looking up lovingly amid the chaos and laughing together at how ragged we are right now, but what I haven’t always been able do is push aside the stress, the worry, and the exhaustion to get to that point. How do I maintain perspective — view this time as a mere pixel or ten of the Big Marriage Picture? How do I lighten up on myself and Al, have some fun, scrap the resentment and frustration and conflict and let this crazy stage of life with two small children build our bond, not break it down?

I want to learn that. I NEED to learn that. And every so often, God gives me a glimmer of how it’s done. This past weekend all four of us spent an hour and a half piled on our bed watching 80s music videos on YouTube, dancing, laughing at the weird hairdos, spangled gloves and metallic coveralls, Al and me remembering where we were and what our lives were like when those songs comprised the Top 40. I saw my husband’s face relax, and his beautiful, wide smile and deep, rich chuckle rippled out over all of us as we danced together among the sheets and pillows. I was touched anew by my love for him and it felt SO GOOD.

Later, the two of us stole 20 minutes of overlapping kiddo naptime snuggled together on the sofa, beers in hand and a college football game on TV. In that short moment, with virtually no important words spoken, just a comment or two on the game and a quick “I love you,” we connected enough to undo the hurt of an earlier (petty) argument.

These are the simple but critically restorative moments we need to create when we can, enjoy when we do, and allow to renew and strengthen us as a couple when our life — the needs of our children, his job, my household responsibilities — pulls us in different directions.

I want to know – among the chaos of daily living, no matter what stage of life you’re in, how do you (or how WOULD you, if you’re not currently married) create opportunities to maintain and grow your bond with your spouse? Leave your marriage survival secrets in the comments.

You can also find Megan blogging at FriedOkra.

20 Responses to We’re Just Two Crankypants Ships That Pass in the Night
  1. Moriah
    October 13, 2008 | 12:28 am

    Hey, check out that latest post at 5 Min 4 Books, it’s on the same topic.

    All I can say is pile on the grace. 🙂

  2. Leigh
    October 13, 2008 | 12:40 am

    I find little notes are a great way to make each other smile. When I am angry at James, finding a little note (or usually an email sent from him at work) makes me smile and makes it so much easier to start communicating again.

  3. Melissa
    October 13, 2008 | 6:39 am

    Notes for sure are a great way. My hubby and I both work full time, so sometimes little text messages on the phone or emails are fun too.

  4. Jemma
    October 13, 2008 | 7:43 am

    Aw! Seems to me like you don’t need any advice, looks like you know exactly what to do! Take those moments when you can and keep remembering that you’re both in this together. It’ll pass soon enough.

    Hugs xxxxxx

  5. Elizabeth
    October 13, 2008 | 10:08 am

    One thing we have done since our children were babies is put them to bed super early so that we have a few hours to ourselves in the evening. I’m talking like 7:30 early! Sometimes we spend the time together and sometimes we don’t, but it’s always time to finish up things in the house and prepare ourselves for a new day. Lately we just sit and watch movies together. It’s not necessarily quality time, but it helps us reconnect.

  6. Lora Lynn
    October 13, 2008 | 10:11 am

    A couple of ideas:
    – Can Al twitter from work? On his phone? Hubs and I flirt via twitter or chat.
    – Date night is a must. We didn’t do this at first, but now we can’t live without it. We hired a baby-sitter for once a week. She knows she’s committed to us an we’ve trained her to do the dinner and bed-time routine. We’re flexible about what night, so it’s good for her, but we make sure we get ONE night. This is so worth budgeting for. Even if you have to take Peabody along every now and then.
    -We once had wise counsel that even our two year olds could understand a closed door. This couple told us that when he got home from work, they went to the bedroom and shut the door. Their little ones usually sat right outside and put their feet on the door. But it demonstrated that the marriage was the first priority and taught the little ones some patience. Start out at ten minutes and work up to twenty.
    – If nothing else, make sure Al gets your full attention when he hits the door, no matter what’s going on. It helps everyone shift their perspective when Daddy arrives home.

    This is such a tough balance. And it will get better. Hugs!

  7. Courtney
    October 13, 2008 | 10:30 am

    Laughter is the key to my husband and my marriage. We laugh a lot. At times his humor comes at the wrong time and make the situation worse or i make a comment that i think is funny but it actually cuts but for th most part we laugh. For four years we have laughed our way through struggles and triffe. I love his laugh and i love his humor. If you cant laugh at yourself what can you laugh at lol!

  8. Kelly
    October 13, 2008 | 10:53 am

    It’s hard, isn’t it?

    Corey and I are just starting to come out of the new baby fog. We haven’t had much luck with the date nights, but we do try to snuggle on the couch Friday and Saturday nights after the kids go to bed. We watch mindless TV, chat, just BE. It’s helped us to feel a little more connected.

  9. Elisa
    October 13, 2008 | 11:02 am

    Like Elizabeth, we make the most of our evenings by putting the kids to bed as early as possible. We also have a weekly date night, a la Lora Lynn, which for us means we eat takeaway and do something together at home since we don’t want to leave our kids with a babysitter just yet.

    Something that has really helped our marriage is having a ‘day of rest’ every week. It’s not completely restful since we do have two children aged two and under to look after, but we make a point not to do things we consider ‘work’ on that day. Which means lots of hanging out, playing games, and taking walks together. It drove me crazy at first since I always want to be getting something done, but I am enjoying it now. (Especially since we seem to get the same amount done on a weekend as we used to, all in one super-organized day.)

  10. Summer
    October 13, 2008 | 11:24 am

    Since my hubby is away so much, I like to say something nice about him on my blog. I love when he calls up and says that he read my blog.

    It’s hard, no matter what stage. I often wonder how to get there too. Unfortunately, it’s one big explosive argument. And then we realize how much we love each other. And how we’ve been misunderstanding each other.

    Marriage – it’s a crazy thing! Hang in there, ’cause you are in a tough stage. I look back at those times and it.was.hard.

  11. Lorie
    October 13, 2008 | 2:06 pm

    I don’t know that finding those moments ever gets easier, but they are so important.

    I agree with the above comments that notes work nicely. Also having a set bedtime for the kids that allows a little alone time for mom and dad is nice too. But you just have to find time for positive interactions throughout the day.

    I pack my husbands lunch every morning and stick a note inside. Because he is one of the few people that bring their lunch to work he is alone and has time to call and we catch up in the middle of the day.

  12. Misschief
    October 13, 2008 | 2:39 pm

    Sounds to me like you got it sussed! After 13 years we still suggle before i go to bed (about 2 hours before him on weekdays!), we alsway say i love you at some point in the day 4 or 5 times and we always , always discuss everything in the evening when we are both calmer, me because he is home and him because he is wound down! We make sure kid issues are sorted out of kid earshot! And every day without fail we have LUNCHTIME LOVE. We take turns to call eachother, alternate days, and have a little love! No wok talk, tired talk, fed up talk..just simple honest i love you’s! It always makes me smile and bad days seem a bit

  13. Laura
    October 13, 2008 | 4:14 pm

    I think part of it is shifting expectations and accepting the new directions and that it will not be exactly as it was.

    I know with four little ones we struggle with this a lot too and our ability to navigate the children and connect with each other ebbs and flows.

    This past weekend we had a babysitter and went to a photography museum he had wanted to go to and out to lunch. We still had the baby with us, but compared to four she seemed like an angel and it was nice to get out without the chaos of manning four little ones in public. I think date times cannot be left out to maintain a growing relationship. for us it may be once a month or once every six weeks, but it still helps!!

    I’m sure a lot of what your experiencing is still the growing pains of adapting to a larger family!! Your in my thoughts and prayers!


  14. Miche
    October 13, 2008 | 7:59 pm

    We leave messages in soap on the bathroom mirrors AND we never ever go to bed mad.

  15. Laura V.
    October 14, 2008 | 5:38 pm

    My babysitter recently moved away…. how dare she go off to college!

    We have 4 and 2 year old boys and a 4 week old little girl and both boys are in preschool 2 mornings a week. We decided that whenever he can take one of those mornings off work (hopefully every couple of weeks) we’re going to drop the boys at school and have a breakfast date with only the baby, who is quite laid back!

    Oh, and hubby sent me a random text the other day that simply said “I love you” and I just about melted right then. And I know that if I sit down – even for only a few stolen minutes – and watch football with him, it is extremely meaningful to him! Things don’t have to be extravagant, etc. for it to be special, small things seem to mean more than ever before in this stage of life.

  16. Steph
    October 14, 2008 | 9:25 pm

    I can imagine it’s much harder with two babes than one, and even with one we find ourselves in this kind of situation! Some things that work when we don’t forget to do them…

    text messages
    leaving notes for each other
    making time to relax a bit after kiddos bedtime
    date night if you can get a sitter
    and lots of cutting each other slack, thank goodness for that!


  17. All Rileyed Up
    October 14, 2008 | 10:45 pm

    After the kids go to bed, we uncork a bottle of wine and play Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit. Usually, there’s at least one night a month when we both have the energy to do it.

  18. Julie`
    October 15, 2008 | 1:10 pm

    About once every 2 weeks I feed the kids early, easy meals and try to get them to bed eary too. Then James and I sit down for a quiet, relaxed yummy dinner by candlelight. He’d like to do that every night 🙂

    My grandmother always used to tell me to make sure I take time out JUST for James, without the kids presence. She was right – she was married for 64 years to my grandfather before passing away and she always told me to make sure I put James first.

    I agree with that – but sometimes it is hard to feel like doing that. Someone once told me – “God first, then your husband, then your kids” – The kids get to see a relationship that is tight and that makes them happy too!

  19. Beck
    October 15, 2008 | 10:12 pm

    I can’t remember how we managed to stay married with small babies. I asked my husband what he recommended, and he said that it sounded like you guys needed to get less sleep. “Then you won’t even remember you’re married!” he said.

  20. seo
    March 26, 2012 | 10:40 am

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More here: 5minutesforparenting.com/143/were-two-crankypants-ships-that-pass-in-the-night/ […]…

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