I’ve always said that having a baby is definitely not a way to save a marriage. By all means, please make sure your relationship is in good standing before you bring a baby into the world.
Sure, that initial euphoria is going to make you feel all lovey dovey, but you likely won’t be experiencing the same feelings at 2 AM when your baby’s screaming bloody murder and the two of you can’t get on the same page on how to silence her.
Having a child adds to your relationship in a new and exciting way, but it also requires more effort and intentionality from both of you. As you probably assumed, there are absolutely ways to have a thriving marriage while still having children. I mean, people totally do it, and you can too.
For the love of all that is holy, DO THIS. And do it on a regular basis. The first time Justin and I went on a date alone after Beckett was born was our second wedding anniversary. Beckett was three months old. Justin and I sat down at the table for dinner, and he said, “I don’t really know what to talk about!”. I mean, he was half kidding, but seriously you guys, this is what happens. Your lives start revolving around your baby pretty quickly. Your conversations begin revolving around sleep, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, bottles and poop – things you likely didn’t talk about pre-baby.
Commit to at least one night a month to go out together child-free and spend time together. This doesn’t mean you have to drop a ton of money on a fancy dinner. You can go get ice cream, grab a cup of coffee or just take a walk together. Just make sure you’re putting yourself in an environment where you can have an actual conversation. Yes, this means going to the movie theater is off limits – unless of course you go to dinner before, and then I’ll let it slide. 😉
There are few things that make me more crazy than going to dinner, looking around the restaurant and witnessing 75 percent of the people looking at their phones rather than having a conversation with the person they came to dinner with. You guys should totally just order carry out and sit on your couch. Alone.
Don’t be these people. You have an extremely limited amount of time with your partner alone, so please please please take advantage of it! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the news and scores you feel like you so desperately need to check, and even that text message from your friend – it can all wait. Your marriage will thank you when it’s old and still truckin’ along.
All too often we think that love has to be shown in grand gestures, but actually the small gestures can be just as meaningful and vital to your relationship. First and foremost, I recommend finding out what your partner’s love language is. This way you’re not wasting your time doing all of the acts of service for him when he’d rather you shower him with words of affirmation.
Make it a point to show your love and appreciation on a daily basis. Take the trash out even though it’s not “your chore”. Leave her a little note to tell her how incredible of a job she’s doing. Pick up his favorite candy at the store. Bring her home a bouquet of flowers. These little gestures take only a small amount of effort, but their impact can be huge when done regularly. It’s just a little reminder that says, “Hey, I know life has changed and maybe we don’t get to spend as much time together as we used to, but I see you. I love you. And I appreciate you.” And that can never be a bad thing, right?
Think of this as the next level date night. And let me preface this by saying that I know this isn’t doable for everyone. If you don’t have family nearby, then this may not be feasible. If you do, hand those kiddos off to grandma and grandpa for a night or two!
Every year since Beckett was born, Justin and I have made it a point to go away for at least a weekend together, and it’s always such a good refresher for our relationship. You don’t get to just have one dinner conversation. You get to have a whole weekend of conversations! You also get to sleep in and not wake up in the middle of the night, and if this doesn’t convince you to book your hotel room now, I’m not sure what will.
Above all else, never stop communicating. Raising kids is not for the faint of heart. They’re adorable, and you’ll love them so much it hurts, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The two of you have likely been raised in different ways, and you’re probably going to disagree on some of the ways you should raise your children. And that’s ok. But talk about it – privately.
I’m a strong believer that the two of you should always be a united force in front of your children. Criticizing your spouse’s approach to parenting or arguing and bickering about how you should discipline your child in front of them isn’t healthy nor does it set a good example for them. Keep your cool in the moment, and then have those conversations behind closed doors. Keeping the communication lines open on how to raise your children and showing one another respect will be key in this new parenting venture.
Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, adding a new member to your family is always an adjustment. It impacts your family dynamic and it impacts your marriage. Navigating those changes can sometimes be challenging, but this is where your relationship can really grow and flourish. So don’t get discouraged when the going gets tough. Remember that there are ways to not just make your marriage work, but to make it really really incredible.
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