How to Save Your Marriage from Kids
BY CHEERS, MAMA! WISE MAMAS
When Greg and I said our marriage vows eight years ago, I wasn't thinking about what it would be like to love and cherish him in the midst of caring for a sick baby and sleep depravity. When I was breastfeeding Oliver around the clock, the last thing I wanted was to have and to hold my husband. I wanted to sleep in a separate bed, with no one touching me!
Marriage definitely takes a toll when kids come along. Even though it's hard, there are ways to still prioritize your spouse and keep your marriage strong. We reached out to Cheers, Mama! followers for some tips on keeping marriage alive in the midst of parenting.
We started marriage counseling after we adopted our two kids, and it was such a gift. What relationship wouldn’t benefit from a neutral third party helping to process all of the things?!:)
It's like a car, right? you maintain it before it breaks down- not the other way around?
Sex. Who feels sexy after kids hanging on them all day? I’d argue, no one. haha. But- the connection and intimacy that sex can bring when you and your spouse are in different worlds during the day is SO valuable. Foreplay becomes checking in with each other to see how the day is going, and shutting off the phones and tv when it’s time for bed. Do it. Literally;)
I n g r i d G l e s s n e r
After the kids go to bed, we talk while we fold laundry or do dishes. It's a great way to catch up on the day and be productive at the same time.
j e n n y l i g h t b o d y
Having a set bedtime so after the kids go to bed my husband and I have ‘us time’.
Text throughout the day to stay connected. Even if our days are busy, it’s nice to hear from your loved one how special you are or what they are excited for that night/upcoming weekend/etc.
A piece we have learned is we as a couple need our own time away to be ourselves, away from our family and partner. No judgement in what that hour or two each week consists of but tuning in to what makes you you is so important after taking on the role as mama.
S t a c e y S c h m i t t
We have a show we watch together. We started watching Hart of Dixie (no judgement) and we both got into it! It was an awesome wind down once the kids went to bed- it was a time that we were on the couch, but then also talked about the show. We tried to make sure cell phones weren't apart of it either! It was something we both looked forward to at the end of the night, and made sure we were at least together closing out the end of the day!
We also try to play little games together. He loves cards, so we might play cards while we watch...or we play family feud on my phone before bedtime. It' just a fun way to spend time together that doesn't require a lot!
j a y m i e m c g r a t h - h o b s o n
Once a month on a Friday my parents pick up the kids from daycare and keep the boys overnight. It gives us a chance to be on our own schedule, sleep in, and feel like a couple again! We try not to get caught up in chores but sometimes there is also something nice about doing a yard project or folding laundry with each other when there aren’t little ones tugging on you.
T R A C E Y M Y E R S
1. We’ve made a deliberate effort to use our TWO ears and ONE mouth accordingly. Communication is a two way street - listening AND talking.
1a. Along the lines of communication, we have done a better job of really trying to understand each other’s “lens” or perspectives of any situation, and not getting offended when we call each other out (nicely, of course).
2. Taking time for ourselves and reminding each other to take that time.
3. Recognizing that parenting is 50-50, but not everyday. We balance each other and adjust as needed.
4. Did I mention communication is everything? Clear, deliberate, transparent communication. It’s never easy but it’s vital to a healthy marriage.
a p r i l p r u n t y
I’m so glad I chose my husband to be my partner in this journey. I think that’s the first step I’d ever mention because I lean on him so much more now and thank God I can trust him and rely on him.
We followed everyone’s advice about soaking up our time before Baby and I think that was great too. I felt a little sad knowing that time would be coming to an end as funny as that sounds. I knew it’d be a long time before I could give him so much of my attention. Another thing I know is that it’ll be important is to devote time to being together without the baby. But man, that’s harder than it sounds when you are already asking others in your life to help watch your kid for work/social gatherings, as well as spending the money for a sitter on top of the money you’ll be spending at dinner/drinks with your hubby. I know they said kids are expensive but is this really what they meant!
A M Y W O R D E N
Something we've worked on or learned is perspective. When I feel that I’m slacking on my contribution of housework it’s usually because I’ve been taking care of Hattie and vice versa. Or if I feel like I’m the only one doing something it’s likely because Ryan is the only one doing something else (like washing pump parts - seriously if all husbands of pumping moms did this it would be amazing, best help ever especially when she was still a neonate and I pumped after every feed as well - so much “quality time” with flanges).
I try to make sure to acknowledge and thank him for all of the things that get done while Hattie is either nursing or being put to bed. While it’s stuff that has to get done I think it’s still important to acknowledge the help, as sometimes husbands feel helpless with a baby who wants to cling to mom all of the time so they find things they can to to continue to run the family ship.
Finding a groove as a couple for who takes care of what at the end of the day (especially when you both work) when there are needy kids, hungry and tired everyone, and dogs who want walks will hopefully allow you both to have a tiny moment at the end of the night for a glass of wine, beer, or whatever on the patio while listening to the baby monitor for your next move.
e r i n r a f t e r y
I think for Erik and it has been gratitude. We try to show each other that we are thankful for the different ways that we contribute to our family and home.
It is easy to feel unnoticed in parenting, but we have found that saying thank you for the small stuff (giving baths, making dinner, fixing the annoying squeak in the baby's door) makes us feel more connected and like we are in this together. Also we feel its important to role model gratitude for our kids.
Also- Just get a damn babysitter.
Erik and I were terrible at this our first couple of years of parenting, but man it really does make a difference. It feels like even if we get a evening a month where we can go out to eat, or just enjoy a walk without a stroller. It makes us feel more connected as a couple not just as parents. If that still seems impossible- when the kids go to bed we like to put our phones/devices down and just spend time together. Talking, rewatching The Office for the 100th time, eating all the candy we hide from the kids. When we are truly present it we feel more connected and that we are still each others priority.
d a n a l e h m a n n
I feel very, very strongly about always making time for the two of us...after all that’s where it all started and it’s so important to just enjoy us, no kids. It’s so hard to find that time but SO important.
h o l l y c a r f r a e
Having kids changes your priorities, but it is important to still include making time for you and your spouse. That can be as simple as having lunch dates instead of dinner dates or watching Netflix and hanging out after the kids go to bed. We set up a “Nana and Papa Night” with my in-laws where they pick the kids up every Wednesday night from daycare and drop them off just before bedtime. My husband and I often use this time to spend quality time together.
s a m l o w e
We spend time just the two of us. I find this one hard since we're working during the week and our daughter is at daycare, so I feel guilty not being with her all the time on weekends, but at least once a year we'll go away for a night just us and then we periodically go out to dinner. We aren't overly structured about this, but we're conscious to make time for it.
We use shared lists more (e.g. Wunderlist). This helps us keep track of household to-dos, but more importantly it gives some visibility into things the other person does so we don't take it for granted/assume they aren't doing anything:)
Moving our daughter to school near our house was a big game changer. We typically all go to drop off in the morning which gives us a little more time together as a family and then my husband and I are on the same schedule so we talk via phone on our respective commutes to work.