We did marriage all wrong. Obviously. The whole thing ended in divorce and all. But it wasn’t necessarily a case of us not liking each other anymore. I mean, ultimately, it came to that towards the end of our ten years together, but mistakes were made long before the festering dislike that resulted in divorce.
Now that we’re “dating” — or whatever it’s called when a divorced couple starts hanging out again — we’re trying to figure out what we did wrong so we can avoid doing it again. Like anyone, we had our fair share of issues stemming from various personality traits, but our real trouble started once we had kids. That’s when we set ourselves up for marriage failure. So listen up; if you’re in a floundering relationship and you’ve got children, I’ve got one piece of advice that seems simple but just might save your marriage: get babysitters. Say what? Get babysitters! Lots of them. Go out! Relieve yourself of the 24/7 duty of parenting for a couple hours. Regularly. You think you want to be a super mom or a super dad? You’re only going to be super if you get a babysitter. And regularly.
When our first kid was born six years ago we didn’t understand that you have to actively work to create a scenario that allows a couple time to reconnect and enjoy each other. Like all first-time parents, we were overwhelmed so we hunkered down, mistakenly assuming that good parenting requires being with the kids all the time. We didn’t vacation. Hell, we barely went on dates. We sat on the couch and basically just survived. Yeah, all new parents experience overwhelming feelings to some degree but we let it happen and never returned to normal. We were in survival mode and when that wore off, complacency took its place. We lost sight of ourselves and what brought us together in the first place and never really found our way back. On the few occasions we did contemplate going out, the cost of hiring a babysitter didn’t feel worth it and hey, we were usually too tired to go out anyway, so we rode the couch for years. Big mistake.
That’s why one of the first things we did when we decided to hang out again this past month was to get on Care.com and hire a babysitter who comes every Saturday night. A standing appointment. Our first date was this past week and it was so much fun to hit the town with no agenda and — more importantly — with no kids. Yeah, a babysitter, especially when you have three kids, is expensive but every dime spent on babysitting is well worth it. Having childcare to free us up to spend time alone is a top priority within this new relationship we’re building. We’re even thinking of hiring a nanny for the summer, something that we never would’ve considered during our marriage because of the cost.
In my humble opinion, the money we saved by not hiring a babysitter very often, even though we both worked from home, wasn’t worth the cost of divorce. Think about it, what’s the point of being with your kids all the time in your effort to be great parents if it ends up ruining your relationship and inflicting divorce on your children? All those experts who advise you to keep dating after marriage aren’t wrong. Although dating your spouse sounds easy, once kids are in the picture, it can often feel like the hardest thing in the world to make that happen.
Make it happen. Trust me. The babysitter is worth every penny.