When Benton and I first got married I remember people telling us, ‘Year 7 is when people get divorced!’ I couldn’t imagine ever looking at Benton and thinking we were disconnected, let alone needing a divorce. We were newlyweds, with double income and no kids (affectionately known as ‘DINKS’). We went on dates, spent our money on fun things and were getting sleep. A lot of sleep.
Fast forward to 7 years of marriage (this year). We have two kids under two years of age. Up until a week ago, our 21 month old was waking up more than our newborn at night and so no one was sleeping. Benton slept in the spare room to tend to Lovise, while I stayed in our master bedroom to tend to our newborn, Odelle. We’d say good morning quickly at 5am before Benton left for work.
Then I was alone. Alone with 2 kids who both demand equal amounts of attention. Alone with a toddler who couldn’t understand why I couldn’t hold her. Alone with my hair being pulled and my back being kicked while trying to nurse. Alone putting my toddler down to nap while my newborn screamed for me downstairs. Alone trying to function on 3 hours of sleep. Alone without any breaks.
Benton was at work, probably trying not to fall off of his scaffold. The pressure of work, the economic uncertainty since covid and the 3 of us at home weighing on his shoulders. He could barely keep his eyes open yet he couldn’t stop. He knew when he came home it’d be to an exhausted wife and his work wouldn’t stop.
When Benton did come home I would hand off Lovie so that I could feed Odelle. I could hear Lovie saying, ‘Dadda hoooollddd you’ (which means she wants to be held) while Benton tried to make dinner and his frustration increased as he was trying to complete a task with a little one having a meltdown at his feet.
I would come out of the room but was completely useless because Odelle refused to be put down. So she would be on the boob and Benton would serve me dinner. Meanwhile Lovise would stand up in her highchair and throw spaghetti all over the floor and walls. Benton would take Lovie upstairs and bathe her while I attempted to clean some of the kitchen and stared at the laundry pile and looked at all of the things I just couldn’t get to, like vacuuming our floor with Cheerios all over it.
When Benton came downstairs from putting Lovise down it is would be Odelle’s witching hour, so I’d be stuck in the master bedroom working to calm her. He would work out and clean up the kitchen and then would come and hold crying Odelle while I took a quick shower. We attempted to talk but the white noise to calm Odelle made us resort to watching a show with subtitles. At 7:30 we checked the clock and decided to call it a night as we resorted to our separate bedrooms, ready for another sleepless night.
How do people get divorced at 7 years? Life. This beautiful, crazy life we’re living with these two blessings and no time to be together. The ‘growing apart’ makes so much sense now. I can see how your love for your spouse can muddle into a business partnership, where each one is task oriented and the romantic, spontaneous aspect is gone.
So how do we combat it? How do we commit to our marriage when we’re exhausted and want to zone out on our phones? Intentional, put on the calendar, ‘us’ time.
We can’t get out of the house in this season, so instead we have home dates. We pour a glass of wine for each other and bust out some relationship questions online, like this one. We carve out time because if we don’t we’ll wake up one day and know everything about our kids and nothing about each other. We are committed to putting each other first and it takes work! Marriage with two under two isn’t for the faint of heart, and it takes a lot to encourage and support for one another when each person feels run down and spent. It’s a season- and it will pass. But we want to look back and remember a fulfilling marriage as well as a fulfilling time parenting.
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