I recently read a really interesting article about blogging. Actually, it wasn’t that interesting, but it did get me thinking.

This article says that new bloggers make 7 major mistakes…none of which are worth sharing here because who cares whether or not I’m using SEO tactics to increase my Googleability? I should also point out that I’m not exactly a new blogger considering I’ve been blogging since 2011– first on the old classic, Shannon’s NYC (aww). Still, this article held one notable reminder for me:

Write about what people want to read about.

Now, lucky for me, you guys (i.e. my readers) are a weird bunch who will apparently read just about anything, from The Bachelor to chub rub to breastfeeding. Bless you all.

That said, the two topics I get the most requests to write about are relationships and motherhood. And The Bachelor, but I think we’ve all come to realize I’m not ready to commit to recaps again. Yet.

I’m honestly just winging this whole love + babies thing and getting *very* lucky outcomes. But SURE! If you guys want my insight, my insight you shall get.

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I simply ask that you don’t hold me accountable if it turns out everything I say is 100% wrong.

I wrote more about dating and falling in love back when I was dating and falling in love. Surprise surprise, I write more about motherhood these days since you’ll be hard pressed to find me without the bodily fluid of an infant smeared across my clothes at any given moment.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes poop everywhere. Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Side note–how do people without bathtubs survive baby blowouts? I need to know. Like, sometimes I just have to throw him in the tub with no water while I remove all of my own clothing, then remove his clothing, and then we just bathe in his feces until we feel clean. That’s normal, right?

I swore I’d never talk about poo on my blog when I had a child. I hate myself.

Back to love–>baby. It’s easy to ignore that whole “in lerveeee” thing now that I have my hands full with roll-tastic thighs (and I’m not talking about my son’s), but thanks to that little article, I’m going to stop ignoring the large portion of my readers who aren’t parents and/or are still struggling to find their way out of the horribly dark world of modern dating.

shudder

Maybe you are in a wonderful relationship and waiting impatiently for the bling bling on the fing fing. Maybe you’re married and are wondering if it’s normal for the relationship to all of a sudden feel tense. Maybe you’ve gone on a few dates with a guy from Tinder but you’ve spent more time analyzing his texts and the “viewed by” tab of your Instagram stories than you actually have spent talking to the guy. Or maybe you’re single as a Kraft slice and have decided that dying alone with multiple cats by your side is actually a better alternative than dealing with the dating pool. (Fair.)

Wherever you are in your love story, it’s never not interesting. Love is interesting. Relationships are interesting. I mean, you just never know who you’ll love, when you’ll find it, what will change, and how it’ll be a catalyst for the trajectory of your entire life.

But yeah– like, be chill about it.

love

Since I’m easing back into the whole relationship essay thing, for today I’m just going to backtrack a year to when I was happily married, sans baby.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The first few years of marriage are really strange. Not just for someone like me who barely knew my husband’s middle when we tied the knot, but for EVERY married couple I’ve ever spoken to.

It feels different. Something about being tied to one another legally, religiously, and in Amazon’s registry rolodex really does alter the dynamic of a relationship. You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s…new.

There’s not really anything to work toward anymore when it comes to the relationship and JUST the relationship. When you meet, you wonder when you’ll be exclusive. When you’re dating, you wonder if you’ll get engaged. When you’re engaged, you’re giddy about getting married. When you’re married, you look forward to…what? Dying while holding hands?

Yeah I know– babies, careers, houses, family vacas, memories…

Dying while holding hands.

There’s no real thing to look forward to anymore when it comes to the next “step” of solely your relationship. Parenthood involves a third party (called a baby). Things like buying a house or joining a wine club are event-oriented rather than relationship-defining. For you and your spouse, you’ve seemingly hit the last wrung of the ladder in your relationship…meanwhile, life has barely even begun.

It’s a weird feeling.

now what

Good news: If you want kids, are blessed to have kids, adopt kids, whatever…I will say that you do eventually see that there is another wrung to anticipate: Empty nesters. Back to just the two of you.

But we’re talking to/about the young marrieds here who do not yet have any nestlings in the nest.

Whether we realize it or not, most of us are trying to impress our spouse all the way up until the day we say “I do.” This isn’t to say you’re not yourself or that you’re a doormat or anything like that, but there is a shift in the way you view someone once the rings are permanent enough to create tan lines.

Even if you lived with the person prior to getting married, there’s a new level of realness. For most couples, you’re no longer fixated on the common end goal to “live happily ever after.” “Ever after” is right now. HALP.

That’s the key, though: An end goal– an “ever after” if you will– for your relationship. You ALWAYS have to have one. If you don’t have goals for your relationship to move forward, it won’t keep moving forward. And as soon as a relationship loses momentum, you’re going to fall flat on your face.

model falling

Everyone’s relationship goals will look different upon marriage, but one thing should be the same: They’re definitive.

Whether it’s reading a book together, doing a diet together, attending 100 concerts in one year together, or talking on the phone during your lunch breaks at least 3 times a week…have a goal that is something you two are determined to do together. Sure, it’s not as big as the goal once was to get engaged or get married (I know “goal” is a weird term for those things, but go with it), but it’s still something to focus your attention on your spouse day-in and day-out.

Those first few years of marriage can be SO fun. You travel. You socialize. You cuddle. They can also be SO difficult. You wrestle with identity, priorities, finances, and preferences. You can no longer wing it. You have to face it. And it can be really hard.

Through the challenges that Aaron and I faced in our first year of marriage, we couldn’t settle into the “well, this is just our life now” mindset. Nope, we both had to challenge each other, openly ask for empathy, and actively keep the relationship our #1. Goals for the relationship were so helpful. We decided we wanted to be regulars at a local bar together. We decided we wanted to always go grocery shopping together. We decided to always touch base throughout the day, no matter what. Those sound small and silly, but just the thought of being that couple that the bartender knows made us so happy. It was something we could only accomplish together, and kept us dreaming about our future as a couple– even in the smallest of ways.

So that would be my advice to you newlyweds out there. Don’t let Happily Ever After be the end goal. Change the end goal, because the journey to reach it is always better than arriving.