Some of the best advice I have ever received came from a friend who married early. She told me that with every little change in your married life comes a new rhythm, and you must find it together. I understood how this works with big changes, but I had no idea just how big an impact the small changes could make.
A change is a change is a change; how we handle it matters.
We’re coming up on a big change in our life. In fact, as I write this, we are four days out from adding our newest little love to the family. I anticipate great changes with her arrival, even though I have no idea exactly what they will be. The easy part about big changes is you can anticipate having to flex and adapt to the new rhythms.
But what about the little changes? When Tim and I first married, like many young couples, we did what was needed to make ends meet. That meant that I worked a part-time job as a full-time grad student, and Tim worked for minimum wage in a job with significant potential overtime. When we encountered relational difficulty, I didn’t always spot the culprit until after fits and fights. It usually happened after Tim’s work schedule or my class schedule changed, and we had yet to recognize the need for a new rhythm.
Sometimes, we miss the cue.
We are creatures of habit, and when those habits take a turn, things just feel slightly off-kilter. For children, it is sometimes easier to spot. When my girls miss naps or eat late or get out of their normal routine, their dispositions usually reflect their disorientation in tantrums and random fits. What’s fascinating, but sometimes harder to spot, is when Tim and I become disoriented and the girls respond adversely to our disjointedness.
Change is unavoidable. Life happens, and we keep moving. What we often fail to do, though, is proactively meet those changes and consciously establish new rhythms in our families.
This will look different for all of us, but the first thing I recommend is acknowledging the change and the new routine mentally. Take a moment to visualize what this means for you and your family and how you can best mitigate the fallout.
Once you’ve recognized the need for a new rhythm, it becomes easier to sort through exactly what needs to change and maybe even how. Maybe you need a new bedtime or morning routine; maybe you need a new approach to meals and family time. Whatever the changes may be, acknowledge them and make a plan.
As you plan and think through the new rhythm, always anchor them with the values you hold dear for you and your family. For example, I know that one of my husband’s love languages is quality time. This is low on my priority list, but I value him and his need for quality time with me, and I keep that in mind when thinking through new routines. For us as a family, spending intentional time playing together with the girls is important, bedtime routines are important, and family meals are important; therefore, I do my best to craft a new routine that allows time and space for these things.
Every change, no matter how large or small, brings a change. It may not seem that way at first, but if you find yourself in a marriage that feels off-kilter, or with kids who can’t seem to get it together, take a quick look to see if any of the rhythms of your home have changed. Even the smallest thing can make a giant impact.