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By Contributing Mama Erin Butler

After four years of marriage,

Erin wedding

my husband and I have started dating again. The good news is that it’s to each other.

The bad news is, even after years together, it’s not as easy as we thought.

Since our daughter was born two years ago we have gone out, without child in tow, four times. Five, if you count when we dropped her off at my parents so we could go sign our wills.

Every parenting magazine warned us to “make time for each other” but we didn’t.  And while we are far from divorce court, our relationship has shifted.

Before baby, it was all about “us” and now it’s all about “her.” Our lives revolve around our daughter and we have struggled to make the “us” still work. And while friends tell me it’s common, it’s still unsettling.

Since my husband works from his home office about three times a week and I am a stay at home mom there is no lack of contact between the three of us, in fact sometimes, it’s too close for comfort. And maybe that’s the problem, too much quantity and not enough quality.

My energy has been on Katherine for two years straight. Every day I am plagued by the hard hitting questions: Will she ever eat carrots that aren’t smothered in humus? When will she start calling animals by their names and not the sounds they make? How long can I keep up the charade that Sesame Street is the only program on tv?

And while I focus on a daily routine consisting of meal time, nap time, play time, laundry time, etc… my husband brings home the bacon to finance all those organic peas, Lands End sheets, swim classes and gallons of Spray and Wash.  While our two roles go hand in hand, we live with such different responsibilities that it somehow turned into different lives, with our daughter as the only common denominator.

When she was a baby it wasn’t so obvious, or maybe I was too sleep deprived to notice. But lately, I’ve been feeling that the one relationship that was supposed to withstand anything was beginning to buckle.  And that’s scary.

So we instituted date night. After five phone calls to arrange babysitting, six outfit changes, and locating a missing baby doll, we were back in the dating pool.

At the restaurant we started talking about the weather. Like we were 80 years old, and just met. To save the sinking ship we quickly diverted the conversation to our daughter.

But after a half hour of chit chat, we finally started to talk. Not about who was going to go to the grocery store the next day or the oil change my car desperately needed, but about the things that really matter.

We discussed my writing projects, the changes he wanted to make in his career and where we, as a family, want to be in five years.

And then there were the real issues.

How it breaks his heart that Katherine always chooses to be with me rather than him.

How I am envious of the freedom he seems to have…after all, no one else ever follows him into the bathroom!

How he misses spending time with just me.

And how I miss the feeling of being the only girl in his life.

It was one of the most productive conversations in months. I know one date is certainly not going to solve all of our problems, but it at least put them on the table.

Though it was nice to have an uninterrupted meal, by the end of the night we missed her, which is something I don’t have the opportunity to feel often.

We took our dessert home so we could be the ones to tuck her (and her baby doll) into bed.

Erin daughter

We ate our cheesecake sitting on the couch listening to the hum of the baby monitor behind us. It wasn’t the sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic ending that we had years ago but it was us. The “us” that hadn’t been around in a long time.

Now, I am not the type of girl to kiss and tell, but I am pretty confident there will be a second date.

19 Responses to back to the beginning

  • Jane Millar says:

    Loved this article! Currently pregant with first child and wondering if life will ever be the same again after the birth. Will try to instigate date night early on (Ma in law is handily close by!) thx for tip!

  • kelcey says:

    I’m so glad you two are getting out!! You deserve it. I mean why should those kids on Gossip Girl be the only ones to have fun

  • christy says:

    Ooh I loved this post. My husband and I have only been out four times in the last year, by ourselves. I miss dates – we haven’t been on one in months. I think you’ve given me the kick in the pants I need to find a new sitter (ours went to college)…I’m sure you’re right – I’m sure there will be a second date for you guys, and it will be so good for you!!!

  • Terra says:

    I don’t kknow if I should cry or cheer! This was wonderful. I give all the best wishes I can send your way, that you both are even willing to see what needs to be seen! Hang in their mama – I think you have what it takes!

  • Elisa says:

    Oh, I hear that! My husband and I have been married for 12 years now, had two children, moved back and forth between and within continents several times, the last of which was just two months ago… and I’m starting to feel like I need to do something NOW.

    We have gone on dates before, and each time we vow to do that every month. But it’s harder to arrange when you don’t really have family, to find a babysitter you like etc. But it’s a must. Thank you for reminding me I need to organize our date night!

  • Bitsy says:

    Oh, yes! I remember how hard it was to get a babysitter, get the kids and the house ready for the babysitter, get yourself ready to go out, get the planets to align just right, and get the heck out of the house on a date! But so worth it! Keep up the effort. My kids are now much older and their calendar full of social activities makes it difficult to have date night often enough, so we have date “lunch” at home when they are at school.

  • Mary says:

    Erin, once again you hit home! Glad that you and Mark had a great date night and got to reconnect a little…it’s not easy. You’ve inspired me to make plans with my hubby, ones that aren’t packed with visiting people, concerts or other activities that make it just as hard to connect as when we are home!

  • Daphne says:

    Great article Erin! After 6 days straight home with sick kids, I’m aching for date night…which we just put off another few days to accommodate another fever. You’ve just got to keep trying!
    Happy dating.

  • Alethia says:

    Erin, loved reading this. I am really looking forward to spending time with you next week and discussing stuff like this!

  • Bree says:

    Erin, this was fantastic!!!!! Seriously, fantastic! I get out without my little munchkin quite frequently and it really is the key to rediscovering a relationship. I know you have tons of family to watch Miss K., but you can always count on me, too. xo

  • Oz says:

    Katherine is just lovely, I have to say.

    We’ve had about the same number of dates since our firstborn entered the world not quite two years ago. Now there are two of them, and I’ve taken to calling my husband by my one of my sons’ names. It’s not very romantic. You guys have the right idea.

  • Heidi says:

    Glad you had a good date. We have been out only once and it ended in going a lot too wild with the pinot grigio! Still have not had any since. You have done way better!

  • Tully's Mama says:

    oh the date night. Or as we call it in our house ‘the obligatory put-out night’. Making time for each other makes the household so much happier. We love our children to pieces but at least once per month we find time for each other. Great piece, Erin!

  • Renee says:

    I think we’ve gone out 4 times since Emery was born 2 years ago too… (too bad we don’t have wills to sign). Thanks for touching my heart with another wonderful, honest, close to home piece. You have such a gift for connecting with your reader about real life. Seeing how baby #2 will be here in the next month or so, we should probably get a date on the calendar. I know it would be good for us, our marriage is not what it was pre-Emery… we could use a real conversation that doesn’t take place in our jammies. So glad you and Mark have reconnected. Hope it continues!

  • MN Mama says:

    This is a beautiful honest piece. Thanks so much for writing it. It is so important that we continue to date our husbands. We face some similar challenges but we work at getting out or staying in and setting aside time for us to just be together. Again, I love this piece.

  • tina ezzell says:

    So true Erin, we get into this world with our children and it’s so important to know who we are again as a “couple” to our marriage because time keeps moving… life is to short.
    Have fun with the man that makes you smile 🙂 I know life can be so repetitive, that’s when we have to notice things are getting boring or whatever the case may be and SPICE it up!!! :))

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