by: Kimberly Bowman

The difference between learning to share a life and how to be parents is stark. Getting married and starting out is a little like playing house. It will be like college but drinking from those nice glasses you registered for instead of plastic cups. Certainly making a marriage work is far more complicated than that and parenthood is much the same. It is not at all like college or playing house. When you become parents it is easy to let the taking-each-other-for-granted stage take over. This is a detriment to your future as a family.

While learning to be parents requires plenty of sharing, it is not the same as quality time as a couple. As parents, you will find yourselves on the business end of life – have you done this, did you get that, where is the baby, do we have any more toilet paper, can you get milk on your way home, God help you if you delete anything off the DVR list. This works and is necessary but if you let it go on too long, you will find yourselves struggling in the long run.

When you carve out time for yourselves as a couple you are recharging each other and the marriage much the same way the weekend works to enable you to return to work on Monday. Everyone needs a break, a light at the end of tunnel, some sort of reprieve. This loading up of the marital battery need not be hours out with a paid babysitter. Planning a grown-up dinner after bedtime, complete with conversation, will do the trick if done before the nightly TV zone-out. First time parents may be afraid of leaving their breastfed baby but she will likely make it at least two hours with grandma or a neighbor before desperately seeking mom and that is plenty of time for a coffee and a chat. It is surprising how little it takes to gear up for the next shift. This becomes increasingly important as your children learn to speak which will then be ceaseless forevermore. If simply going to the mailbox, let alone into the bathroom with the door actually closed, by yourself is enough to buy some sanity, imagine what a latte and a small café table with your husband will get you?

Remembering how this all got started is important. Take the small amount of time it requires to keep it smoldering. Some day it will just be the two of you again and as the chill of a quiet house surrounds you, it will be time to throw on a few logs.