There’s no denying it. Your marriage is going to change after you have kids. To think or to say otherwise isn’t just lying, it’s completely misleading. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad, it just means you have to adjust how you approach your marriage a little.
It’s totally possible to have a happy marriage after kids, but if you expect your marriage to keep going to same as it is now once your kids come along then it might be a different story.
At the end of the day, there’s no magic solution to creating a happy marriage after you have kids. It takes effort from both of you, respect for each other, and love and understanding.
But if you’re looking for a few ideas to make that happen, these are ways you can do it.
1 – Set Realistic Expectations
One of the biggest causes of arguments in relationships is unmet expectations. It’s impossible to meet someone’s expectations if a) they aren’t communicated and b) they are totally unrealistic.
You may think that you have to have date nights every week in order to keep a successful marriage but that’s not the case and it’s not always realistic, especially in the early days of parenthood.
You may also expect that your husband does half of the house chores still but he may expect that because you’re at home, you’d do the house chores. If you haven’t discussed your expectations with each other, I can almost guarantee they won’t be met.
There’s no right and wrong when it comes to what you expect of each other as parents and as husband and wife, but you do need to discuss it and be on the same page with each other.
2 – Take Five Minutes Each Day
Life with kids is exhausting and chaotic. Somedays the thought of leaving the house makes you want to crawl up into a ball, whereas other days the thought of being stuck in the house has the same effect.
It’s messy, unpredictable, full on and amazing, all at the same time.
And in all of this, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day happenings and forget to take a few moments to connect with each other.
You don’t have to spend hours having deep and meaningful conversations. Just take 5 minutes where you have a conversation with your husband and look into his eyes (seriously powerful stuff). Talk about anything that doesn’t involve kids, or don’t talk at all and just hold hands.
It’s not about what you do, it’s about making an intentional effort to connect with each other.
3 – Maintain Physical Contact
You might want to reach through the computer screen and strangle me at the thought of having even more physical contact, but I promise it’s worth it. As mother’s, we are crawled on, climbed over, and clung to for far too many hours during the day. We are overtouched and overstimulated and the thought of spending a day without physical contact seems dreamy.
But… physical contact from your husband is different.
You don’t have to be all over each other, randy teenager style. Holding hands, hugging and kissing are all encouraged forms of physical contact.
Touch is an incredible sense, and physical contact with someone we love triggers the release of oxytocin, the love hormone. Oxytocin has a whole bunch of wonderful influences on our body, including the feeling of love and it helps us reduce stress by countering the stress hormone, cortisol.
So while you feel stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed, and the thought of even more physical contact makes you feel nauseated, cuddles with your husband can help you feel less stressed, happier and all loved up.
4 – Remember, You’re In It Together
When you’re tired and parenthood feels like it’s getting on top of you, it’s easy to turn things into a battle of ‘but I do this’ and ‘but I do that’. Perhaps hubs is off to work and you’re at home with the kids, maybe you both work. Whatever the arrangement is, there are times as a parent when you feel like you’re completely alone.
There’s no blueprint to tell you how to do this parenting thing properly. And just when you feel like you get into the swing of things, everything changes and you’re back at square one. Even with the most amazing support around you it can feel lonely and isolating at times.
Remember, you are in it together with your husband. When things are tough, rely on each other. When things are good, celebrate together. When you feel alone, reach out.
5 – Spend Time Alone (Yes, Really)
Alone time probably sounds like it’s not really conducive to connecting as a couple, but hear me out.
We all need our own time for self care, and this is even more true when you have children. As cute as they can be, those little tiny humans can suck the life out of you and you can feel like there’s no end.
Alone time is essential for filling your own cup.
It doesn’t matter what you do in your alone time. You can schedule in anything self care that will make you feel like you’re human for at least a little bit. Whether it’s a pedicure to scale back those talons, or a massage to knead out the knots formed from carrying toddlers around, or just sitting at your favourite cafe where you get to drink your coffee while it’s still hot and eat your cake without someone whinging at you because they want some…
Whatever it is, you and your husband both need to spend time alone. Because going to work is not alone time for either of you. You need scheduled, meaningful alone time to give yourself space to breathe and refresh.
6 – It’s The Little Things
Remember when you first started dating and you’d make your love a coffee before he got out of bed of a morning, and he would leave a cute little note for you in the bathroom telling you how much he loves you… do that again.
Okay, maybe you didn’t get the love notes. It’s not the point.
The thing is, it’s these little gestures we make that remind each other that we love them and that we are thinking of them that really get us through the difficult times.
We have different seasons in our relationships and in our life and the season of parenthood is rough, especially when we have little babies that cry and lack of sleep and leaking from all body areas (the babies and yours).
It’s not about keeping score. It’s not about ‘well he doesn’t do these things for me’. So what. You can do them for him, you can remind him why he means so much to you. You can’t control his effort but you can control yours and hopefully once the effort is made it will be reciprocated. If not, refer to point #1.
Put Each Other First
You’ll find people who say that you should always put your kids first, but I’m firmly in the camp of ‘you put your husband first, he puts you first, and together you take care of your kids’.
Let me explain.
Long before my husband and I got married, we were putting each other first. I didn’t have to be ‘selfish’ to ensure my needs were met because he was always meeting them. He would offer to book me in for a massage when he knew I was getting stressed, knew when to give me time out and knew when I needed more time together.
And I did the same for him.
His happiness meant the world to me and I could always pick up when he needed time out and I’d suggest a fishing trip or a camping trip away.
When our kids came into the picture, we kept putting each other first. He would make sure I had time to myself when I needed it, and would make sure there was chocolate when I was craving it and I’d make sure he had time with the kids when he was craving family time and made sure he had a break from work when he felt overdone.
By taking care of each other and putting each other first, we were able to put our children’s needs first, together.
I put him first. He put me first. And together we made our family a priority.
This isn’t something that can be done as a one-sided thing. You both need to be on board, and you both need to make the effort to care for the other.
Your marriage will change when you have kids. It’s not a bad thing. A marriage never stays the same, you both grow and mature and life changes and evolves. But when you make the effort together, remember you’re not alone and you put each other first, you will work towards a happy marriage after kids, and well beyond.