Yesterday was mine and Tom's fourth anniversary (of getting together, we are not married). This past year has been intense, actually the year before was pretty intense too! We have been through a fair bit over the past couple of years and although this last one has thrown a lot at us I like to think it has made us stronger as a couple. Certainly there have been the bad times, I'm not about to sugar coat this being a parent/relationship thing but there have been some amazing times too.
In the first three months of Wilf's life I pretty much would have fallen apart without Tom's support. When I struggled with breastfeeding, weeping every day, utter exhaustion and everything else that may (or may not!) come with being a new mum..well I just could not have gotten through it without Tom.
I see Tom being the incredible father he is, and know that whatever life throws at us that will always be a constant. It's a pretty incredible feeling watching the love between your child and your partner. The feeling of 'family' is a special one and one that I constant remind myself how lucky I am to experience.
Whilst this year has seen a big shift in our relationship (no more spontaneous nights out, lie ins, lunch dates and the rest of the things you really didn't appreciate when you had the freedom to do them). We have learnt that the smaller things can make such a big difference. Getting to watch a movie together (at home) or walks out in the park (with wine and cheese!) or just listening to records on a Saturday morning.
Something I have learnt since navigating a relationship plus a kiddo if that you have to work at it sometimes. I used to think in my naivety that if you loved someone it just came easy all the time, you loved and laughed all the time. I have since discovered this is not the case. Tom can sometimes drive me utterly mad (and I him) but that doesn't mean we love each other any less just because we are not skipping around in fields of daisies all the time and I'm cross at him for leaving the plates on top of the dishwasher and not in the dishwasher for the millionth time ;)
Sleep deprivation does not help ones patience and so in times when I know we are just bickering for the sake of bickering and not much else I try to keep in mind that half an hour later we will just as likely be laughing over something funny Wilf did.
Here are a few things I try (not always successfully) to maintain and consider when it comes to keeping our relationship a happy one.
The biggest and hardest thing for me is keeping score. I've spoken about this a few times before in regards to sleep competitions (who's tireder? me! no me!). It's one I am so aware of but find the hardest not to fall into that old trap. I try to remember that both are feelings are true and valid, sometimes this works, sometimes not so much ;)
Being each others biggest fan. Remembering what it is you first fell in love with about your partner is a good way to refresh those feelings. Tom is incredibly supportive over my passions (illustration/blogging) he gives me ideas and is always willing to help me do something that probably is a bit silly (for example always taking my picture for my 'what mama wore' posts). Tom enjoys cooking and food programs (a passion I cant share as for a veggie they are rarely inspiring!) but I know that that is his thing and I love that he can get excited over cooking (and that he likes making dinner!).
Being appreciative and not taking things for granted. Tom without fail makes me a cup of tea in bed every morning (sometimes with toast too!) I aways make sure to thank him for it and say it like a really mean it (which I do!). It would be easy just to accept that he does this every day but I want him to know how much it means to me. I also try and thank him for the little things he does that could also be taken for granted (usually just boring old chores) sure they need to be done but its nice to show that you are not being complacent about it.
Sometimes it just helps to look at the bigger picture. As long as you know the love is there then anything else can be worked out.
A relationship will undoubtedly change once you have had children. My dad once told me 'if you are arguing before you have kids? Then you have no chance!' whilst of course we did argue here and there before we became parents the reality of the emotions (and tiredness) becoming a parent brings it something you cannot be prepared for. Tom has seen me at my absolute worse, both physically and mentally! And me him. When you can show someone that side of you and still be loved and love back then I think you have a good thing going.
Here's to another great year, I love you xxx