- Becoming a parent is, for many couples, one of the many seasons of marriage.
- Having a child or a bunch of children will, inevitably, change the dynamic of your relationship with your partner in a myriad of ways.
- Having kids forces you and your partner to make your marriage a priority every day.
Change is a constant, and just as there are seasons of life, there are seasons of marriage – one of which, for some people, is parenting. In a recent post-partum selfie on Instagram, Kate Hudson said “kids take up the number one position” and that it becomes “hard to make time for yourself,” and many others have found this is true. Having kids not only changes your relationship with yourself, but it will inevitably change the relationship you have with your partner.
If you and your partner are currently expecting, or have decided that having children is right for you both, that’s wonderful, but it’s also a significant change. You can’t always necessarily prepare for what’s to come, but you can do your research. In order to know how marriage changes when you have a baby, the best resource you have are the mothers who’ve experienced them first-hand.
Here’s what 11 mothers told INSIDER.
Quality time together is going to look a little different now than it did when it was just the two of you.
Prior to babies being in the picture, Colleen, a mother of two, told INSIDER she’d practically be half asleep when her husband would kiss her goodbye before heading off to work in the morning. These days, waking up with him and establishing a morning routine together is just one of the ways the couple squeezes in some much-needed quality time together.
“Now I wake up in the morning with him, so that I don’t just get a kiss on the cheek when he leaves for work,” Colleen said. “I make his coffee, and am able to say goodbye fully awake. We also like to have a routine when the kids go to bed so we have time together.”
You can become even more of a unit when you go through hardships together.
For Christine, a mother of five, having kids changed marriage in a number of ways – the most significant being when her son was diagnosed as special needs.
“We became a team in the truest sense of the word,” Christine told INSIDER. “We make sure the other person gets breaks, we divide and conquer with him and our typical kids, and we make sure to carve time out for us, to appreciate each other in this insanely stressful life. I can’t imagine my marriage being any stronger than it is right now; not despite the struggles and stress, but in large part because of how we chose to handle them together.”
Your love for one another grows stronger through the love you share for your child.
During an interview with INSIDER, Graziella explained that just knowing she and her spouse shared the same amount of love for their son brought them even closer together.
“I’ve been married for 13 years. I have one living child, a son named Frankie, who just turned four. I’ve had two miscarriages and two stillbirths as well,” Graziella explained. “My heart explodes every time I see my husband be a father to our son. My love has grown even more for him as well as my respect for him.”
Knowing that you’re a role model might inspire you to adopt better, healthier habits.
In teaching your child(ren) how to lead a healthy lifestyle, Meghann, a mother of two, told INSIDER it’s up to the parents to set an example by sitting down for dinner every night, eating better, and going to bed earlier.
“It becomes a priority to constantly be on a schedule,” she said.
If you’re both working, stress levels can run high.
Leah, a mother of two, described being married with kids as a “wonderful, perfect, loving, hilarious, insane chaos,” as the “me-time” and “we-time” you’re used to capitalising on is now fixated on caring for your kids. Add work schedules into the mix, she said, and the stress level just skyrockets.
“The stress level is high, that is for sure because my husband and I both work,” Leah explained. “Because my husband works much later than I do, I handle much more like getting them ready for school, taking them, dinner, bath time, and PJs. He helps, not saying he doesn’t, but even in 2019, it just seems like… a woman’s day never ends.”
Mothers will often take on a nurturing role for the entire house.
Renee, a mother of three, told INSIDER that she often catches herself losing sight of her marriage because she’s so focused on nurturing their children. So focused, in fact, that she “tends to take care of all of them like kids” – including her husband.
You’re going to have to actively choose to make your marriage a priority every day.
Children take up a lot of your time and energy, so getting romantic with your spouse might be the last thing you feel like doing by the end of some days. Still, Rosemary, a mother of four, told INSIDER that although your kids are obviously going to be a top priority for you both, your relationship with your spouse should still be a priority.
“When you have children yes, you become busy with them and their needs, but your children grow up. They have their own lives, and when that happens, the person you are left with is your spouse. I made sure my kids were a priority but I never forgot to have fun in my relationship and never let him forget our time was precious.”
Parenting brings out the good, the bad, and the ugly in your partner and yourself, but it will make you stronger.
Erin, a mother of three, said it best when she said parenting “stretches you,” in that it brings out your worst and your best. It’s incredibly powerful to go through these phases together, she told INSIDER, but that power can also go both negatively and positively, depending on how you respond to one another’s weaknesses.
“It’s so easy to see [your partner’s] weak points and use them as weapons or to put up defensive shields around your own weak points,” she admitted. “In your marriage you have to be aware of that and make sure you’re looking for the bests that blow you away and smoothing over the rougher bits. It’s work, and it feels exhausting to put it on your plate along with all of the other 24/7 responsibilities children bring. But in the end that work makes your marriage stronger and brings you through the hard times no one else can see or understand.”
Travel plans will change accordingly, but not permanently.
Your ability to travel obviously depends on a few key details, like finances, if you plan on bringing your child(ren) with you, if you have someone to babysit, etc. But for Katie, a mother of two babies in daycare, money that used to be used for entertainment, now goes towards childcare.
“We still like to travel,” she told INSIDER, “so we just chose places we can drive to and have family-friendly vibes. I also like to include the babies in my free time, so for us, we haven’t seriously considered any trips away from the kids yet.”
Your ability to travel also changes, Katie added, in that you aren’t able to go places without careful planning.
“We also used to go places spur of the moment (hello Vegas for the weekend), and we don’t have that luxury anymore. Our time off from work has to be saved for if the kids get sick, not a weekend away. I don’t think this is a forever change, just for the next few years when the babies are little.”
Your marriage becomes the example of love and safety your child(ren) depends on.
Children are incapable of being independent, and look to you as the example for what to do, and how to behave, in just about every scenario life throws their way. There’s a lot of pressure put on the parents to be the perfect example for their children, but there’s also something beautiful in that responsibility, too.
“Our marriage was the nucleus of our family, but it was/is held together by all of us,” Amy, a mother of four told INSIDER. “We, our marriage, our family, works better when we are all building each other up. It starts with Rich and me as the example, and our kids saw that in everything: Mum and Dad take care of and love each other first, and then the kids.”
Be aware that you and your spouse might lose that sense of “us,” and possibly sight of who you both are as individuals.
“When your dating and first get married, you are in couple mode. You go out to dinner, go to the movies, stay up late and have lots of sexy time. After you have kids, that changes,” April, a mother of one, told INSIDER, and the reason is that marriage is separate from parenting.
Once you have kids life becomes a juggling act of the two dynamics, she explained. Between work, keeping at home together, and trying to keep yourself, who you were in your marriage, and independent of your marriage can get lost in the shuffle.
“Sometimes your sense of self gets lost and is lost for a really long time. It can be hard to get it back,” she explained. “It’s a juggling act, and unfortunately a lot of time your relationship gets last straw [as a result].”
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