My husband and I were married five years before we got pregnant. I always knew I wanted to wait awhile before starting a family so we could set the foundation for our marriage. I was well aware of situations where couples had kids immediately after getting married and then struggled to keep their relationship on solid ground.
However, no one told me how having kids changes a marriage. Actually, that’s not true. People told me all the time that marriage gets harder after kids and to be sure I was really ready before I jumped into that phase of life. But they didn’t explain how parenthood makes marriage harder.
Whether you’re newly married and thinking about kids, expecting your first child or have been parents for many years, I think we can all agree that marriage is pretty tough. Add children to the mix and tough takes on a whole new meaning.
Here are six things no one tells you about marriage after kids:
You’ll fight with your spouse over absolutely nothing.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been in the middle of a fight with my husband…only to realize I had no clue what we were fighting over. Who’s turn it was to unload the dishwasher? Change a diaper? Who knows. Every fight seemed like the most important fight we had ever had. And when two people are severely sleep deprived, they will fight over just about anything.
The moral of the story? Don’t fret if you and your spouse are at each other’s throats. This too shall pass. Just make sure you apologize when you’re wrong and if you’re fighting over something stupid, do yourself a favor and let it go. Trust me – you’ll find something else to be angry about tomorrow.
You’ll both crash on the couch at 9:00pm. Every. Single. Night.
Every night, my husband and I have the same conversation. It goes something like this:
“Want to watch that latest episode of [insert favorite TV show here] we missed?”
“Sure, that sounds like a good idea. I’ve been wanting to catch up.”
Three hours later:
“Shoot. I must have dozed off. What time is it?”
I wish I could say things were different, but at the end of the day, we’re both spent. And the recliner has never looked so good.
If this is the scenario in your household, don’t lose sleep over it (see what I did there?). Yes, it’s important to have time with one another each day. Yes, you need to make sure you see more of your spouse than the back of your eyelids. But truth be told, this is a really exhausting stage of life (is exhausting even the right word? Have they come up with a better one that describes parenthood yet?). Things won’t always be like this. So do what you have to do in order to make it through the day – and if you can only get to 9pm, then so be it. There are many sleepless nights in your future (like when your kids are teenagers and can drive).
Date night means perusing the aisles at Target.
Speaking of spending uninterrupted quality time with your spouse, date night takes an interesting turn after you have kids. I remember the first time my husband and I went out without the baby. We had been slogging through countless nights of 1-2 hour sleep intervals and we needed a break. So off we went for a fancy, four-course meal at Chick-fil-a (not ashamed of that decision). I was in sweats and hadn’t washed my hair for four days. We shoved food down our faces in a matter of twenty minutes without speaking. I thought about how tired I was and how I wasn’t sure this parenting thing was for me (do they allow you to return babies to the hospital after they’re born or is there an expiration date?). Then we went home.
I laugh as I remember those days. Even now, one year later, date night still isn’t what it used to be. Instead of staying out past midnight, we’re home by 10pm and in our pajamas, watching the History Channel in bed. Or we run out to Target to buy a few things and end up sauntering through the aisles, enjoying a few baby-free hours.
You know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want to stay out till all hours. I don’t want to go out to a crowded bar or restaurant. I like my comfort and since being a parent is anything but comfortable, if I have a chance to relax, put on sweats and get a solid 8 hours of sleep, then I consider that a rockin’ date night.
All you’ll talk about is your kids.
Conversations with my husband revolve around three things: 1) our son’s poop schedule 2) our son’s sleep schedule and 3) our son’s dietary habits (and sometimes ours). We can talk for hours about the best way to sleep train or why our son didn’t eat the peas we made for dinner. To others, we probably sound like crazed lunatics. To us, it’s perfectly normal. After all, our proudest achievement is our kid. We created him. He’s a perfect mix of both of us and we like to talk about him. I see nothing wrong with this unless we’re out with friends and all we do is talk about our kids. If that’s the case, then I’d fully expect our friends to slap us upside the head and tell us to get out act together.
Money will be tight – and yes, you’ll fight about it.
Couples fight about money before they even have kids, so it should come as no surprise that it continues into parenthood. Having kids definitely puts a strain on the finances – and that strain can take root in your marriage. At least once a day I ask my husband if we should cut back on our budget and his response is: “Where do you suggest we cut back?” Meaning we’ve already cut back as much as we can and I need to just relax.
If you’re not careful, money worries can cause a permanent crack in your marriage. It’s important to discuss it with your spouse – but it’s equally as important to let it go too. Don’t obsess over money (I have this problem). If you do, you’ll drive your spouse crazy. At the end of the day, if you’re both on the same page, you’ll make it work. Yes, kids are expensive and yes, it can be stressful when money is tight, but don’t let those concerns ruin these special moments for you. Moments that you’ll never be able to get back.
You’ll secretly be thrilled at spending time alone.
A few months after my son was born, my husband had to work late one Friday night. And if I’m being honest, I was thrilled. Not because I don’t love him and want to spend time with him. But because I love me too and I needed some alone time after a long week.
I enjoy times when it’s just me in the house, watching TV. For one – I get to watch This Is Us without my husband rolling his eyes. Two – I get to recharge my batteries. I don’t have to keep up conversation with anyone. I don’t have to respond to questions. I can just sit and be.
As important as it is to make time for your spouse, you also need to make time for yourself. Moms tend to give everything to everyone around them until there’s nothing left. We need to stop doing that. If we’re burnt out, then we’re no good to anyone else. It’s okay to be selfish and take time for yourself. At the end of the day, you’ll be a better mother for it.
You’ll be connected in a way you never imagined.
Despite the fighting and sleep deprivation and the struggle to keep a tiny human alive – parenthood connects you and your spouse in ways you never thought possible. You have a shared connection. You made another human being. It’s truly incredible and even during times when I’m most angry with him, I look at my husband and think, You have given me the greatest gift imaginable. And I love you for it.
Spoiler alert: our marriage is about to be tested even more because…we are expecting baby #2 in June! Stay tuned for my next post on why I’m absolutely terrified to welcome a second baby into the world (there’s some excitement in there too, I promise!).
What lessons have you learned about marriage after having kids? What did you struggle with the most? What surprised you?