One of the biggest things I have struggled with since having children, is feeling connected to my spouse in my marriage. Having kids definitely shifted the focus and changed things for us.
Prior to having children, we got along great. We never really "worked" on our marriage because it didn't feel like work. Sure, life got busy at times with school, work, or our house, but nothing like having three kids in two years busy. We were still pretty able to focus on each other a lot of the time. When we went through infertility, it just brought us closer together. We worked together towards a common goal and supported each other. When things got tough, we got through it together. We were a great team.
That's not to say we aren't now, It's just saying it's much more challenging. Between the kids and the house, there are days when I don't have a ton of patience by the time W gets home. I don't necessarily want to hear about his day at work. I don't want to give him a hug because I've had children climbing on me all day, even while I went to the bathroom. While we parent together, things still get frustrating. We argue much more easily. We don't put each other first because life is busy. Some days it just feels like we're constantly in survival mode. Between getting up multiple times at night for multiple children, a tough morning of someone being cranky, tantrums throughout the day, the house to pick up and stay on top of, the children to discipline and keep busy and from fighting, the stress of getting to activities on time and without anyone losing it, and just plain life it's tough to feel as connected as we once were.
Most nights we try to have the house picked up before we head upstairs for our bedtime routine (baths, stories, songs, etc). That means when we get back downstairs and it's just us we don't have a ton to do. The main exception to this is folding laundry. Some nights we have that waiting for us as it's tough to find the time to fold clothes for five people. This is the time we should really be focusing on each other, but usually we're just too exhausted. We turn the t.v on and zone out to that or our phones. It's not like we ignore each other or go to different places. We are still sitting together on the couch, it's just tough to feel connected in those moments.
To help change this we have started trying to have a regular date night. We have gone out a few nights to dinner or a movie and either had a grandparent come over or a sitter. We are still working on finding a consistent and good babysitter we can trust. I'm just sure exactly how to do that to be honest. We have tried a few different people and haven't found anyone I feel can handle my three.
Apart from date nights we haven't done much. I'd love to unplug some of the couch at night, but I feel like we're both just so exhausted. We really don't get much time with just us. We haven't ever gone on an overnight other than to the hospital to have Stella.
I love that W supports me in my new ideas and as a parent. He is an amazing father and provider for our family. If I want to try something new he's generally on board. If I want to eat super healthy, he's right there along with me rather than buying and eating junk like other husbands I know. He supports me emotionally, but we just don't have a ton of time for each other. There isn't a lot of time where we focus solely on the other person and their happiness.
I guess I'm wondering how other couples stay and feel connected? Are there other things we could try or do or should I just accept that this is life with three kids two years apart? In general we communicate well, I just feel like life is too busy and difficult for the time and attention we once paid each other. At to be honest, I really miss that.