Honey, we have the life we dreamed of: two kids, girl and boy, a colonial in a Midwestern college town and a fluffy orange cat that purrs at the sight of us. Our family is wonderful and the “plan” is coming together, but there is so much more we could never have planned for.
It’s obvious that we’re not the same people we were when we got married. Of course we’re not–we’re parents now! And I know it’s hard and it seems like I don’t ever put your needs first. But know that I’m not putting myself first, either.
I know that you’re trying so hard to be a good dad, and you’re succeeding: you really are a great father. It warms my heart to hear you play the drums while our daughter plays her harmonica; to watch you read to our baby boy and see his face light up. I only wish I could find a better way to tell you how truly incredible I think you are.
I still love you. I want to cuddle and be close to you but sometimes I feel a tremendous weight on me. The literal weight of the children sure, but also the weight of the pressure to be a good mother, employee, wife; to be all things to all people. I know you feel similar pressures, too. You just don’t express them as often or in the same way I do but I want you to know that I know that doesn’t make them any less valid.
I want to give you more of myself, but I feel tapped out. I know you feel you’re getting the short end of the stick and in an important sense, you are. But not entirely, and certainly not forever, because all of this is still for us; for our family. It couldn’t be ours without you.
I want to tell you we’ll get back to where we once were, but I think we both know that time and circumstance, both good and bad, make that impossible. I am hopeful and optimistic that we’ll get back much of what we once were. Perhaps we will be a smarter, more worldly version of that couple that once hiked the trails of Yellowstone National Park together.
If we continue to survive the challenges of parenthood together my hope, my heartfelt belief, is that we’ll emerge on the other side with our relationship not only intact, but stronger for it.
Along the way, I intend (and I’m trying now, I really am) to make room for our marriage. The kids may always come first but that doesn’t have to mean our relationship comes last. I know this is harder than we thought it would be–for both of us.
We didn’t realize how overpowering the love of parenthood would be. We never meant for it to overshadow us. It is hard to find our own identities within that, let alone find new ways for our relationship to grow.
I know you know I’m trying. Your support has been unwavering. Through all of the breastfeeding challenges and cosleeping issues, you have been my champion. Always telling me to do what feels right and that we’ll get through it together.
Thank you. Thank you for believing in us. I promise it will be worth it. I can’t promise it will get easier (we both know by now that parenthood doesn’t make marriage easier), but I can promise I’ll keep trying. I will be right there with you, watching you teach them to ride their bikes, wiping away their tears when they fall off and helping them get back up again.
When the kids go off to college and we enter the next phase of our lives together, I promise there will be enough of “us” left. Enough of “us” that we will again have the time and space to make the world a shared place. Enough of “us” to be all we were and more.
It’s hard to hang in there in the meantime; I know…oh how I know! But I know you know it too, and that alone makes it easier. Call this a statement of intent; intent to hang in, hang on, and to continue doing so for as long as it takes for the day to come when I can, and will with joy, assure you that you do come first again.