One of my biggest fears when I was pregnant was how being parents would affect our marriage. Notice I didn't say 'if' but 'how'. I had no delusions about the fact that life was about to change when we added a fourth heartbeat to our little rowhome (me + husband + pup + babe). And, boy, did things change. In some of the ways I anticipated like how it takes a lot of orchestrating to figure out a date night (I think we've had two so far in ten months as parents). But also in some surprising ways like learning to trust my husband to take care of my son. I think like many moms I went through a phase of thinking I was the only one who could do it. Before our son was born, I had idyllic daydreams of watching my husband rock and change the baby. However, once he got here, I had a hard time accepting my husband's help and trusting that he could do just as good of a job as I could in meeting our baby's needs (sometimes even better!).
One thing that became clear to me early on in parenthood was how important it was to me that we maintain and strengthen our marriage. This stemmed from equal parts making sure that we didn't just dive into our Mom and Dad roles, forgetting our partnership from before, but also remembering that we were now setting a living example. That our little boy was going to learn about love and relationships from watching us.
I forget the specifics but I once read that a one minute hug has a powerful effect on your brain chemistry. There was something about endorphins or oxytocin and other sciencey explanation for how it works. But I can share from personal experience, that, yes, it definitely works. After I read this, my husband and I made a ritual out of it. Sometimes we're really good at keeping up with it. Other times we miss a few days. But generally, we make it a point to have a full one minute hug every single day.
That's it. Sure, there are a dozen other things that we do to keep things exciting or romantic or peaceful. And sometimes I hear him chew and question this entire operation. You take the good with the bad.
But that hug. There really is something kind of magical about it. I should add that the length of time is super important. For the first few seconds, you're sort of ready to pull away. Like, once you reach the length of a normal hug, it feels like it should be over out of habit. But keep it going- trust us. We really relax into one another after the 30 second mark. We almost always both let out a sigh. Our shoulders drop down. Sometimes someone gets a pat on the butt. It really is the perfect little reset button for us to reconnect and remember that no matter what happened that day, we have each other.
I don't know about you but that feels like a pretty big bang for your buck without a lot of effort.
P.S. Around the time we got married we had been binge watching How I Met Your Mother. The week of our wedding a hurricane hit our area which added a fun level of excitement (read: stress) as we wondered if guests could get into town, vendors would be able to deliver, and if we'd be able to get pictures outside. I ran out and purchased extra large matching black umbrellas so that we could take family pictures outside if the rain held off. As we met for our first look pictures, I was surprised by a big, yellow umbrella as my gift from my husband. *tear*