It’s said marriage is like holding a mirror up to your life. Relationship with a spouse has a way of revealing things we may not see otherwise. And if marriage is a mirror, then parenting is a magnifying glass. For the past fifteen years, my husband and I have teamed up to tackle the gloriously complex process of parenting. Through countless mistakes and parenting fails, we’ve found that we’re stronger together. Fundamentally, marriage is about team work.
Here are four pillars of wisdom my husband and I have leaned on throughout our marriage and parenthood journey thus far.
T – Togetherness
We started our family with two babies arriving at once. Twin girls pushed us into the deep end of the parenting pool, and the responsibility was not for the faint of heart. The every-few-hours feedings which created every-few-hours diaper changes felt unending. Co-parenting in those early days created a strong bond between my husband and I. The old adage, misery loves company really made sense, but we stood together as a team in the storm. For mothers who feel like they are swimming in the sea of sleeplessness and fatigue, make sure your spouse knows; they are an amazing lifeline during the early years.
E – Equal Opportunity
Motherhood is likely the single most sacrificial act a woman can make. There are years where dreams are on hold, your body is not your own, and deep sleep feels as if it may never return. These years were challenging for me as I feared the moment-by-moment demands of mothering would never subside. Thankfully, as our kids have gotten older and more independent, my husband was quick to nudge me to pursue grad school and my career. He has also invested more time with the kids, and his leadership is evident in their development. When we partner in parenting and work as a team, it provides equal opportunity for each player to grow and thrive.
A – Alignment
It didn’t take long for my husband to notice when I was resistant to an idea, even if I didn’t verbalize it. There were times when I wanted to be more on the same page about an issue, but no matter how much I wanted it, that didn’t make it happen. It took many years for us to learn that it wasn’t worth it for either one of us to push our agendas forward. When I said “yes” with my mouth, but in my heart there was a “no,” we found ourselves in the midst of difficulty and resentment. Instead of approaching issues with only two options, yes or no, we added a third choice, wait. Fighting to get on the same page through conversation, time, and generous listening, instead of strong arming the other into a decision, has strengthened the core of our marriage. We do not move forward unless we are in agreement. When you see yourself as part of a team, you do not make a decision on your own accord. Movement forward requires a united front.
M – Modeling Healthy Marriage
I spent a good part of my life running from conflict. In my mind, conflict meant problem. I didn’t like problems, so I ran the other direction. Come to find out conflict in itself is neutral. The problem lies in how I relate to conflict. Conflict is unavoidable, and if I run from it, I eventually run from those I love. Marriage is full of conflict. How we handle conflict resolution is where the making of a good story lives. When we remember that as a married couple we are on the same team fighting towards the same goal of raising strong, compassionate, and resilient children, it diffuses the fight in us. My husband and I aim to model a marriage that is always growing, but not conflict-free. As we resolve difficult obstacles in our lives we are teaching our children that they are capable of doing the same.
Teamwork makes the dream work.