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Dear husband: When it was hard to love you

On a good day, love can be challenging. In a good month, even more so. But what about if we are talking longer?

Dear husband: When it was hard to love you

[Editor's note: This story is a letter from a woman to her husband. While this is one example of one type of relationship, we understand, appreciate and celebrate that relationships come in all forms and configurations.]

The air was thick with the tension between us. Our eyes were hot with held-back tears, brows burdened with unresolved anger. My husband and I had lost passion for anything, and patience for everything.


At this hard moment in our marriage, we were less charmed, less charming. Our annoyance filled the space between us, leaving no room for intimacy—all felt more acutely in the hangovers of disappointing holidays and anniversaries. Disenchantment and creeping doubt would edge us closer to a cliff of despair.



On a good day, love can be challenging. In a good month, even more so. But what about if we are talking longer?

We have been married for far more than a few years now—and in the shadows of a long, dark time, it's hard to remember what it feels like to be in love.

The first time it happened in our marriage, we wondered if this disconnect—this feeling of being only half—would ever end. We were overwhelmed, and we were scared. Even though we knew we would get through this, it didn't make it any less dreadful.



Why couldn't we just forge a truce? Why did we keep finding ourselves in these trenches of disaffection and dysfunction?



Life's evolutions would throw us off balance, disrupt our "normal" and make us uncomfortable and distracted. Whether it was a new job, a new state, or a new baby, we would lose focus on what was most important—us.

We forgot to put the we first, instead of just the me. Forgetting to pay enough attention to each other, it was easy to lose sight of our common goals.



But being off kilter was not the same as being broken. The key was recognizing that what was causing us pain was really a catalyst for growth—a chance to grow individually and together—and to continually grow towards each other... instead of apart.

Those episodes of dissatisfaction were uncomfortable for a reason. They motivated us...



...to examine ourselves, each other, our relationship.



...to determine what didn't work anymore.



...to mend what could be saved.



...to discover something new that would help turn us back towards each other.



When we grow, we grow out of the old and into the new. This process is understandably laden with work. It would be lovely for this to happen magically, of course. But if it did, we wouldn't really appreciate the sweetness and the satisfaction of knowing we withstood the storm.


To grow is painful, and joyful.

Just like when we had our babies—those pains of labor gave way to the most beautiful thing we had ever seen. The same is true for our marriage.
 Through the pain, we have forged a new bond. A stronger one. Those growing pains serve to remind us that the work is now, here, together.

We know now that to resist growing is to deny each other the chance to grow into our best selves—both of us remaining stuck in the eddy of repeat fights, frustration and exhaustion.

We know now that to stunt each other's growth is to deny each other the chance to grow into the person we are supposed to be.



No matter how down, buried, mad, sad or frustrated we were, we had to remember that we were equally responsible for how we got here, and for how we were going to find our way back. It took hard work and vigilance to identify and resolve the issues that were eating away at our relationship.

We had to become more aware and recognize when we were stressed, and then cut each other some slack

.

We had to learn how to help each other without expecting anything in return, or making each other feel worse by pointing it out.



We had to focus on the big picture—to know when little things were little, and keep in mind the great things about each other in order to buffer those minor annoyances.



We had to remember what makes each other feel secure and happy, then give it freely, the way each of us needs to receive it.



To love, truly love, is to give, even when it is hard—especially when it is hard.

When that reservoir of resentment was so full that just a drop of irritation made it spill over and saturate us with anger, we had to be stronger than the flood and to give more.

When those hard days were done and we had carried that extra weight of worry, we had so little left to make amends—all we wanted was rest and a reprieve from the constant undercurrent of discontent. But, this, this was when we had to dig deeper and give more.

This was when it mattered most. This is important. This is what we meant when we gave ourselves to each other on our wedding day.

When we thought we had nothing left…

...we still had to show up.

...we had to engage when the other wouldn't.

...we had to rebuild when the other couldn't.

...we had to be strong when the other wasn't.

...we had to have patience when the other didn't.

...we still had to give.

We had to give more, to help the other grow when they hadn't.

We had to believe we would again be in love, even if we weren't.

And when we had nothing left to give, this is when we had to forgive.

And when we did, we began to build trust again in keeping each other safe, and in knowing that neither of us would ever give up.

Then we endured, then we grew in love.

This work of a forever relationship is endless, and it is hard, and it is beautiful.

Love is a choice—one we are privileged to make every single day. What results from our efforts is never perfect, but always so much more magnificent than before.

Our faith in each other and the hope in our hearts will always manifest in love—the greatest thing we can make for ourselves and our families.


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I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

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The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

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The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

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This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

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With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

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I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

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Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

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Comforts Electrolyte Drink

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Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

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This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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