#TBT with TSJ Recipe for a Happy Marriage: PLUS a few new ingredients to add!

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Photos by Ashley Therese Photography (@ashlytherese); Make-up by Get Glam Girl’s Sabrina Autera (@sabrinaautera)
Sometimes recipes require a little tweaking. You see, when I came up with my ingredients for a happy marriage, I was only cooking for two. Now that Hubby and I have become parents, there are a few things I would like to add to enhance the fulfillment of this dish. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, this #TBT has fresh ideas for keeping the love in your life, once you add a new little somebody for you both to love.

Like this anniversary photo sessionLet me explain. We wholeheartedly celebrate halves in this family. Birthdays etc. We call each other, send an email, and when MnM turned 6 months, our immediate family came over for cake and festivities (over the top in theory, but lighthearted and fun in actuality…)– So it wasn’t out of the ordinary for Hubby and I to celebrate our 4 1/2 year anniversary this past November.

Captured by the fabulous, award-winning Ashley Therese of Ashley Therese Photography, this anniversary photo shoot was a unique way to continue the magic long after our engagement and wedding pictures have been tucked into albums. Think about it: when else would you hire a professional to create this time capsule to celebrate the love between just the two of you?

Luckily, I was camera-ready once I had my makeup done by Get Glam Girl‘s Sabrina Autera (who glamorized me for one of my monthly CT Style TV segments!). Sure, she applied my false lashes while I had a baby and a dog on my lap, not kidding, yet she still managed to make me look flawless and feel like a star. I always joke that I would leave the house in a potato sack as long as MnM’s pacifier matches her outfit, so while I do make an effort to put myself together, a little pampering goes a long way. It’s so important to remember that in addition to being a mommy, I’m also a wife and a woman who deserves to feel beautiful. Thanks to Sabrina, I truly did.

Not only have mine and Hubby’s looks changed a bit, but this was a way to show how much more in love we are as parents, and how we’ve evolved at this new stage of our life. (More on this towards the end!) I would love to make this a tradition.

So how else can you keep the love alive when you’re not posing for a flash? With these simple ingredients:

Be each other’s Cheerleader: One day Hubby walked through the door with a bouquet of flowers. “These are for you because you’re doing such a great job as a mommy,” he said with a big smile. It was exactly what every mother wants to hear. Although at the time he was commuting into the city to spend hours at an office, taking meetings and making big decisions, he acknowledged that my job at home with a new baby was just as hard, if not more demanding.

This works both ways. I often overhear the sweet way he interacts with our little girl, or quietly observe them together. While MnM’s repetition of ‘Dada’ as she snuggles into his chest and kisses him on the cheek shows him he’s loved, I always follow up with, “You’re so great with her, she’s lucky to have you as her Daddy.” And I mean it sincerely. There’s no rulebook to becoming parents, and even if it’s not your first time around, a part of you will always question whether or not you’re things ‘right’. Recognizing the effort the other puts forth and showing your appreciation with praise, will encourage them to continue those same actions.

Let the other person parent: Even if you do things differently, it doesn’t mean one is right or wrong. Give each other an opportunity to decide on their own parenting style, and understand each person may have a unique approach to achieving the same goal. For example, even if you were just preparing dinner, one of you may have different methods, but will both come out with a delicious result. Same for raising a child. Consistency is important, sure, but it’s also valuable for children to learn flexibility, or simply understand various ways of doing things.

Granted, getting your teen a tattoo behind your spouse’s back is not acceptable, but if you each choose to read a different amount of bedtime stories or one parent changes the diaper in a different way, it’s not worth berating them over. If something really bothers you about the way your spouse handles a situation, talk about it with them. Don’t criticize, but rather explain your perspective and be on the same team. Work together and not against each other. As long as you are both working towards bringing up a healthy, happy, respectful child and agree on the big things, you’re doing just fine.

Be a Team: You’ll resent the other person if you feel like the burden is all on you, but that also means delegating tasks, asking for help and sensing when the other person might need a hand as well. Figure out how to balance the responsibilities around the house, and the childcare, in a way that enables you both to enjoy the process. Play to each other’s strengths and respect what roles each person feels most comfortable in. Is one partner a whiz in the kitchen? Clean up after they cook for the family. Does the other have a bath time routine that makes your little one giggle? Have them take on those duties while you get the PJs ready. You’ll be amazed how successful this give and take can be.

Always speak positively about each other to your child: In other words, don’t throw the other person under the bus or give your little one a skewed perspective of your spouse. While you may not always agree with what how your significant other handles certain situations, keep it between the two of you. “Daddy’s being mean” or “Mommy is so unreasonable” are seeds that simply don’t need to be planted in your child’s head.

Never argue in front of your little one: On the heels of #2, a healthy bicker here and there is inevitable, but the way you handle it is still in your control.  Showing your son or daughter how to reach conflict resolution is actually positive for their future coping skills. However, full-blown screaming matches and heated debates, should they arise, must remain behind closed doors. You are entitled to disagree, and even be angry at one another, but to protect your child’s need for security, you should be seen together as a united front.

Make your twosome a priority: This may be the most important of them all because if you crack this foundation, everything else falls apart. A good friend of mine recently said, ‘Our marriage is important to our children.’ Spot on. It’s very easy to get swept up in the day-to-day before becoming parents (see original recipe), but once you bring little ones into the mix, you’re pulled in so many different directions your partner can seem like ‘one more thing on your list’. That’s where you may need a moment to check in with the other and find ways to put yourselves just as high on the list as your kids. Similar to the idea of ‘Happy wife, Happy life’–Happy parents equal happy children.

Growing up with healthy role models for love will shape them as they get older. Seeing your parents respect one another, talk kindly to another, reach solutions calmly, and show affection for each other is very beneficial. Remember that whole ‘treat others how you want to be treated’ mantra we learned when we were young? That applies similarly here. If you want to show your son or daughter what they deserve in a relationship when they are older, lead by example with love and respect.

Keep the Romance Alive: Family time is incredibly important, and can make you fall in love with your spouse all over again when you see them in their parenting role. However, it’s also vital to take time for the two of you to be romantic. I’ll admit, in the very beginning I had a hard time even running to the grocery store because a little piece of my heart broke every time I had to walk away from my daughter.

However, I also adore Hubby, and began to realize that our partnership also deserves to be cooed over.

Although MnM is quite portable, even the best behaved child requires your attention, which takes the focus off of the two of you as husband and wife. Taking time to gaze into each others eyes, hold hands and connect in a carefree way (well before you start checking in with whoever is babysitting and asking for photos of your munchkin!), will keep that spark alive. Remember, your kiddoes are here because of your love, and if you two are happy together, it sets the tone for your entire family. You owe it to yourselves! And to your baby.

Which brings me to back this photo session.

Off we went to this scenic spot by the water, in the frigid cold, to take our pictures. Hubby and I channeled our inner MnM for the day, with all flashes on us for a change! It felt really great to have our marriage as the center of attention. It was absolutely frigid that day, but the love in our hearts and (and from our body heat!) kept us warm. Snuggling up close to Hubby and feeling his arms wrapped around me, made me felt safe and secure. I absolutely love being needed by MnM, but it was a fun reminder to be able to need someone else.

It was a day full of giggles and magnetic energy as Ashley immediately made us feel comfortable, telling us we were pros. It was a joy watching her vision come to fruition, and we will treasure these photos (now framed in our home!) forever.

We followed the photo session with a romantic dinner out, toasting to the new role in our lives. Even after ten years of knowing each other, we continue to grow together as a couple, just as we watch our daughter grow each day.

I am so grateful to Sabrina for giving me the opportunity to look like a movie star for the moment, and to Ashley who provided us with tangible evidence of such a special stage in our lives.

A wonderful reminder that one of most important ingredients of parenthood is sprinkling on an extra helping of love for your spouse.

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