Dave shares: Our third year of marriage was also our first full year as parents, so our lives - and our marriage - changed pretty drastically as a result!
Bella is pretty amazing. She's already so cheeky, funny, chatty, adventurous and inquisitive. There are also plenty of times where she's grumpy, frustrating, exhausting etc - but on the whole she really is rather fantastic!
Adjusting our lives and marriage to accommodate her and her needs has definitely been quite a learning curve. Despite all the research, advice and courses that we took before she was born, nothing really fully prepares you for just how much having a baby affects pretty much every aspect of your life.
This has meant that Harriet and I have had to learn a lot of lessons with regards to our marriage. There have been times where things have become quite strained, and a few times we've said that we feel more like we're a good parenting team than a good married couple.
It's been hard at times to know how best to ensure that we're still investing in, and working on, our marriage as well as being Bella's parents - but I think it's crucial that we do.
Practical things like sticking to a weekly date night, and keeping each other accountable that these don't just descend into slobbing out on the sofa watching TV and eating junk food each week (not that there's anything wrong with that from time to time) really help here. Also, we try to make sure that we take time to be really open and honest with each other about how we're doing and how we're feeling on a regular basis.
I think it's really important, vital even, to ensure that our marriage and our commitment to each other doesn't get forgotten or missed because of our more immediately apparent commitments to Bella.
It feels like we're in a really good place at the moment, and I am so incredibly blessed and grateful to have Harriet by my side. She is an amazing person, wife, mum and baker (result!) - and I'm so excited to see where the future will take us as a family.
Harriet shares: The 3rd year of our marriage has probably felt the most different. We've been navigating having a baby: caring for her; caring for ourselves individually; and caring for our marriage.
Bella has taken a lot of our time and attention, which we are more than happy to give, but it has meant we've sometimes felt more like housemates than a couple. Before Bella arrived we did have date nights once a week, but as you can imagine that got forgotten about quite quickly, so when we started to feel like housemates we re-initated these! We now take it in turns each week to organise what we're going to be doing for the evening. It's nothing as extravagant as date nights used to be: no meal out every time; hardly ever a babysitter. Instead we cook together, play video games, do a quiz. Just something different to make sure we don't slob out on the sofa!
One thing I'm certain of is Dave is committed to me. He's taught me what commitment truly means by loving me even when I've held him at arms length from tiredness, when I've questioned if this is what life looks like now, when I've not bothered doing 'my jobs' round the house and when we've not been physically close in weeks! Dave, thank you and I love you!
Another thing I'm certain of is: Bella. Is. The. Best. It has been an utter privilege to get to know her, provide for her, comfort her and love her. She is so cheeky and funny, she's definitely becoming more and more independent and sure of her mind! I love sitting back and watching her do anything, I just stare at her for ages!!! I love her so much!