It’s been over a year since I’ve gotten married and had a kid. I never expected to have this life. I’ve learned a lot in just one year of being a mom and wife. When you’re twenty-three years old, you don’t think that you’re going to get pregnant nor get married. Those were not in my plans. My plans were to graduate college, go to graduate school, get married, and then adopt. At twenty-five, I can say I think I’ve adjusted a bit more.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. Hell, it rarely goes as planned. But, as a planner, I was very thrown off when plans didn’t go my way. I was terrified. I think that pregnancy was more anxiety-provoking and terrifying than actually being a parent (at least for me!). Being married also was a huge change.

Jak and I got married on July 29th, 2017. Xander was born on November 28th, 2017. Only four months did we have together as a married couple before we became a family. And as they say, the first year of marriage is the hardest. But, they also say the first year of having a kid is the hardest. Somehow, Jak and I made it through our first year of marriage and having a kid.

Don’t get me wrong, it was no walk in the park. Everything was changing in those months. As a new mom that has struggled with anorexia and body dysmorphia for as long as I can remember, the new mom body I was experiencing was hell (and it still is on my bad days). Recovering from birth was so difficult. Jak just got a new job on January 8th, 2018 (my birthday!). With all these changes I can’t believe we actually figured out a way to survive that first year.

Things I’ve Learned

 

Marriage is Hard Work

I already knew relationships were work, and I knew marriages are work, but I didn’t expect how challenging it would be to work on a marriage, both of us working, going to school, and being parents.

Making time for each other was essential to our survival as a couple. We had to make time for date nights (on the rare occasion), make time to sit down and really talk to each other and make time for our own growth as individuals. Making sure we were healthy individually was important. I believe we are always a “work in progress,” but for those of you who know Millennial, the site, our story, with Jak’s addiction, it’s hard to make a marriage work.

 

Parenting is Teamwork

I knew parenting was teamwork, but once you’re in the trenches, when you and your partner aren’t acting as a team, things can quickly spiral.

Teamwork for parents means splitting the house chores 50/50. It means both parents are involved with the child. You both have each other’s back. A new part of your life is reserved for “family time.”

Jak and I are far from perfect, but we try to communicate and help each other out. Life changes, schedules change, and we have to adapt. A new semester is starting soon, which means a schedule change, which means we will need to go back and talk about what is reasonable for each of us with chores and taking care of Xander to allow the other to get homework done.

Perfection is Overrated

As a perfectionist, I have high standards set for myself. I don’t want to make any mistakes, and I want to excel in all areas of my life. If there is a tough day or parenting or in our relationship, I can quickly spiral into shame and guilt.

As a new (and young) parent, I feel lost. Half the time I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. I do my best to learn, engage, interact, but there are things that are outside my control. Xander is his own person and is starting to make decisions of what he wants, doesn’t want, what he likes, and doesn’t like.

As a parent, we can try to give the best to our child, but there are things outside of our control. Kids get into trouble, they get hurt, they rebel, and they don’t always listen. I have to be okay with the fact that I am doing all I can to raise a healthy young boy. I’m not perfect. I may need to step out of the room on stressful days to compose myself, I may need to make five different foods before he will eat something I make, but I keep trying. I keep trying, but I know that Xander is his own little person.

In relationships it “takes two to tango” and when a partner is absent, the relationship suffers. Addiction is one of those things that can really hurt relationships, no matter what the addiction is. When Jak is doing well, in recovery, then we tend to be stronger. But with stress, addictions can come back to bite you. When Jak struggled with relapsing in his intimacy anorexia (which is his primary addiction, porn addiction being secondary) during the first year of our marriage, it was tough on us. All Jak can do is try to commit to recovery, which in turn will help him commit to the relationship. I can continue being there as a support and a cheerleader. But I also have to take care of myself and my own recoveries.

Jak and I are very far from the perfect couple, but the thing that makes us work is we keep trying. We don’t give up. We know that marriage takes work, and each of us has to be giving our 100%. When one of us is struggling, we need to know the other will be there to help out. I’ve felt alone sometimes because I feel like an addiction -no matter the addiction- is tough to talk about and get support with.

Being the partner of an addict is a lonely place at times. Trying to support your partner, stay healthy yourself, and find a balance between respecting your spouse but also trying to find someone to talk to is hard. I am not ashamed to say we’ve each been in therapy, and we go to couples therapy. Getting help is a sign of strength, especially when addiction is involved.

 

Single Friends Don’t Understand Married/Parent Life – It Gets Lonely

Jak and I often talk about how we wish we had friends who were mature and understood what the “adult” life is like. I know we are 25, but our old friends and some current friends are not there yet. They are still single, partying it up, going to bars, thinking the hook-up life is where it’s at. It’s hard to relate, especially because those days are so behind us.

Luckily we know a married couple that has kids that we talk to, but they don’t live around us so it’s hard. We wish we had parent/married friends around here that we could go out with, talk about adult stuff with. We still can enjoy our single friends, but they don’t always get what it means to be married and a parent. Getting a text at 9 or 10 pm to go to the bar or travel to them out of state is definitely not conducive to parenting. We have responsibilities.

We’ve offered many times to have friends come over here for drinks, talking, and poker, but not many want to take us up when we offer that plan. We still love our friends, but it’s hard. We want to see them, but they are in a different place in their life. Though, we can’t wait until they get married or have kids, because they’ve all said when that day comes we are the go-to because none of our friends are married nor have kids.

 

It Really Does Take a Village

I can say without my parents, I don’t know where Jak would be. My parents have given us a place to live, while we save for our own place, they help with watching Xander for date nights, and we have great family time together.

I love knowing that Xander has a close relationship with my parents. It’s so special because most kids these days don’t always have the opportunity to get close to their grandparents, whether their grandparents live out of state, or they don’t have grandparents. Every time my mom or dad walks into the kitchen when I am with Xander, he gets so excited, smiles and clearly wants them to come over and join our fun. Jaks dad has also watched Xander too, and I really hope that Jaks dad and Xander get a close relationship as well! I am a very family oriented person; family means everything to me and I can’t express how grateful I am to have the family I have. It really makes all the difference.

 

Money Can Break More Than The Bank

I am a very down to earth person who does not need “things” to make me happy, I just like being around people and have relationships and connection. Those are the things that sustain me. Jak loves his stuff. Whether it’s the new car tool, car part, coffee maker, coffee mug, things like that are things he really wants.

If there was one thing that could tear Jak and me apart, aside from the addictions, it would be the difference of how we handle and see finances. I never expected money to be one of the things that drive us crazy about each other. Jak can be impulsive (and selfish at times) with how he spends money. When I am trying to budget and figure out how to get Xander the new toy, or new clothes, and then money is gone because of purchases, that drives me up the wall. Or when Jak wants something and I say in three months we can afford it, Jak is driven crazy by my want to save.

I’ve realized this difference in us comes down to personalities and our ability to delay gratification. I am a more frugal, thoughtful person with money. Jak is a more impulsive, instant gratification person. This difference can be nice at times, but when we are trying to save for a house, and trying to fix up the car, it can put a strain on us. Compromise has been key in this situation. Jak has a coffee and beer budget so he can have his “things” that make him happy, yet we can try to save.

 

This Life Isn’t For Everyone

The married/parent life is definitely not for everyone. If you’re not mature, selfless, actively in addictions, and unable to commit, then keep that single life going!

The word “parent” is synonymous with “selfless.” If you are not able to put your child first and be selfless, then you’re going to struggle. Parenting takes selflessness, maturity, and planning. I’ve learned quickly that going from not having a kid, to having a kid, means your entire life is forever changed. You no longer can go out to the bar when you want, you can’t just go on that date you’ve been wanting to have, you can’t just up and travel. You have to put your child’s needs first. That can be a hard adjustment for anyone, but an almost impossible adjustment for someone who is selfish. If you don’t ever want to be a parent, make sure you’re using protection in that single life! ;P

Marriage is a serious commitment. I say that, hoping it reads positively. For those who are single now, if you struggle with commitment or addictions, get that stuff settled prior to getting into any serious relationship. Marriage is wonderful. It’s having a connected and loving relationship with someone who is special to you. The intimacy you can experience is amazing. But, if you’re an individual who is scared of intimacy or doesn’t want it, stay single. Enjoy other areas of your life. There is nothing wrong with someone who doesn’t want a relationship. More power to you for knowing what you want!

There are certain character traits that make marriage and parenting more suitable for people. That is just the reality. Some people will have an easier time with marriage or parenting just based on personality and characteristic factors. Other’s might want that life and struggle more because of character traits that make it more challenging. And some simply might want nothing to do with the married or parent life. Everyone is different.

I think one of the things that has been very helpful for me was knowing my strengths and weaknesses prior to marriage and being a parent. Being able to do the self-work prior to this life helped me. I had the skills necessary to have a successful relationship and be a responsible parent. I honestly think relationships, marriage, being a parent takes learning skills.

If someone is financially responsible, then they have a skill that is important to a successful relationship and parent life. Whereas, if someone is active in addiction (and in denial) they will never be able to fully connect to a partner or kid because they are unable to be present, might be emotionally stunted, and might be impulsive. Those qualities make it challenging to have a reliable/stable relationship with that individual, whether you’re the romantic partner or a child. If someone has the ability to share their emotions, then they are ahead of the game and will have great intimacy in their relationships compared to someone who has a closed off heart and won’t share and be emotionally intimate.

 

What Have You Learned?

I would love to hear from you guys! What you have learned in the time of being a parent or being married? What have been some of the challenges you’ve overcome? What have been some of the best times?