Before we got married, we both worried it would change our relationship. We were right—it did.
It strengthened it.
We left the insecurities and back-up plans in the wind and fully committed to one another. It was scary and amazing all at once. Although our relationship was still spicy, it became a little more monotonous. We had to put an effort into sexy time and be conscious of each other's needs. We learned how to build a stronger partnership financially, emotionally and sexually.
Before we became parents we were both worried it would change our relationship. And again, we were right—it did.
It united us.
Even though we appeared to be "prepared" for parenthood on paper, we didn't know what hit us emotionally once our baby arrived. Our world was completely flipped upside down. We had no idea how much our bundle of joy would scream and poop and overall impact our lives in the way she did.
Transitioning together from couplehood to parenthood has hands down been one of the greatest, hardest, messiest and most amazing transitions of our relationship.
In all our years together, I know I have changed the most this past year—my first year of motherhood. I am still learning how to embrace and balance being a mother, a wife and an individual. I'm learning how to accept my body as both being functional and sexual all the while managing the wild ups and downs of my hormones. I am learning how to combine the radiant sexual energy I remember with the sophistication motherhood has gifted me. I am adapting, transitioning and changing.
You too, my love, have changed. You are adjusting to both of our new roles with each passing day.
I know a lot of the times the attention is placed on how a woman changes during motherhood, but please know I see the impact fatherhood has had on you.
I see you feeling neglected at times.
I see you missing the carefree sex life we had before.
I see you stressed out with the pressures of emotionally and financially caring for a tiny human.
I see you hurting when you see me hurting and can't fix it.
I see your fear. Wondering if you are a good enough father and husband.
I see the hurt in your eyes and your heart when I lash out at you on a really rough day.
I see the longing in your eyes at times for our old lives.
But you know what else I see?
I see a growing love for our daughter that is the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed in our decade together.
I see your whole being light up when she smiles and calls you Da-Da.
I see you maturing, embracing the difficulties that life is throwing at us and taking them on one at a time.
I see you working as my partner—making up for things I may not be able to do because the baby needs to be fed or tended to.
I see you doing this without complaints, completely out of love.
And although there are times we argue over petty things that all new parents argue over (lack of sleep, sex and feelings of not being appreciated to name a few), I see us adapting and growing in real-time—for the sake of our daughter, but for the sake of our relationship, too.
I see you, my love—even if you feel invisible in these chaotic days of learning how to parent.
So, yes, our life has changed. Drastically. Yet, here we are.
Navigating it together.
More aware of each other's needs—as a couple, and as parents.
And nurturing a love that our hearts never understood was possible.
My darling, please know, I see you. I appreciate you. I 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.]