When I worked in retail a few years ago, there was an older couple that always came in to my store. They had been married for over 45 years, and were still happy and obviously in love. When I told them I was getting married, they congratulated me and told me that the secret to happy marriage is simple.
Never stop dating your wife.
I’ve seen this line elsewhere, and I’m sure it’s been written about before, but it’s also an important thing to remember. You fell in love with your significant other for a reason, and it’s good to take time and remind each other of that. It’s especially easy to forget to spend time together once you have kids. Kids are all encompassing, and everything else in life tends to take a back seat, including your relationship with your wife. This is especially true when they are younger. You’re both exhausted, and all you want to do is sleep every moment you can. Furthermore, with this constant exhaustion, both people are more on edge, and you tend to clash more than normal.
Therefore, you need to take time and remember why you are together in the first place. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. The important part is that you spend the time. Bring the kids to a friend’s house, or get a babysitter, and do something. Get dinner, go to a movie, if it’s nice out, go for a walk. Just go on a date. Chances are you will spend 97% of the date talking about your kid anyway, and that’s fine. If it’s one of the first times you’ve left the kid at home, then at least one of you will probably spend the whole time worried and checking in constantly. That’s fine too, but you still need to have the time together.
It’s OK to start going out together again in baby steps (pun totally intended). On my first date with my wife after my daughter was born, we were out for a grand total of 47 minutes. My wife made me take her for sushi because “they don’t have to cook it, and we will be home sooner”. My daughter was at my mother’s house, and the restaurant we went to couldn’t have been more than a half mile away. However, it was important that we realized that it was OK that we leave and do something together. Even if that something was a little shorter than an average episode of CSI. Now that she is a little older, we will do dinner that actually consists of cooked food, and even the occasional overnight.
It can be tough to find the time (or even the will) to go out and do something, but you will be happy you did. Being parents is hard, and draining, but don’t forget you chose to have kids with this person for a reason, and it’s good to remember what that reason is.
NOTE: Wife in this post can be substituted for whoever your significant other is. I use the term wife for readability and simplicity purposes, but I wholly support involved dads and relationships of all kinds.