I'm at that stage in my marriage again and I've seen it time and again in the marriages with kids around me. Heck, I've seen it three times in my own marriage so far because I spaced my kids out so much.
It's called "reconnect with spouse."
It's such a major milestone I actually put it on the calendar. In advance. Like, before I even had the baby. Once I knew I was pregnant I got out my iPhone notes and wrote something like:
2013: Have baby (late in the year)
2014: Baby Year
2015: One Year Old
2016: Two Year Old
2017: Three Year Old: Reconnect with husband.
2018: Go on retreat.
That way, when things got crazy, instead of thinking EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE OH ME OH MY OH DRAMA I could look at my note and say: Oh, it's 2014. I have a baby. My hormones are still coming back to normal, I'm sleeping when? And I have a little dude who needs constant care. So, yeah, probably not showered all of the time or spending a lot of hours hanging out with the girlfriends to recharge. But at least I can carry him around still, let's go to Harry Potter World before he can walk!
In 2016 when I had a two year old I could look at it, remember I was in the most intense toddler phase of getting-into-everything and if I could still smile or had any sense of humor despite the shenanigans and clutter and inability to go to the bathroom by myself I was winning at life.
I could also look at it and remember that when little dude was four I could go on my women's retreat again. (Yes, I *could* go before that because my awesome husband supports things like that, but *I* could not go because I would not be able to handle it until he was older. MY BABY.) This gave me something to look forward to that was just for me. Me. Me. Me.
That list was a life-saver.
It helped me remember to be easy on myself. To appreciate where I was because it would not last. To put myself on a map and realize I am not lost.
But the biggest gift it gave me was the consistent reminder that I'm not the only one going through the intense baby-toddler period, my husband is too.
Both of us are stretched with a 24/7/365 care-taking job. Both of us probably miss each other even while we are living under the same roof and sleeping in the same bed. Both of us are doing the best we can with what we have. And, once that intense period is over (usually around ages 3.5-4.5 depending on a zillion factors) we will need to take the time to dig out our relationship closet, sort through the piles that got thrown on the floor in our haste and exhaustion, and organize ourselves again for the next phase of life so that we can enter it TOGETHER.
I see so many couples fall apart once their kid (or last kid) reaches the ages of 2-4. Sometimes it's inevitable. But if:
You can reconnect after having a baby. You can.
I brought this up with my husband before we had our third child. Our oldest was nine and our youngest was five at the time and so our relationship was already full again with dates and lounging around having actual conversations about interesting things we were getting to do and think about outside of child-rearing. I knew the cycles by heart now.
I asked him directly, "Would our marriage survive this?"
If he had hesitated, even one blink, I might not have had our baby boy. I love my husband and I adore our marriage and I had zero judgement about whether or not he could take it. I was wondering if I could take it again.
He didn't blink.
It's like personal growth and stuff.