When we got pregnant, we were ecstatic. But deep down, we also knew that our lives would change. So, over the course of the pregnancy, my wife and I started to prepare ourselves for the changes and plan how to survive a marriage despite the added responsibilities. We were going to be the best parents in the history of parenting, and of course, still remain sane, fresh, and have a marriage that would make everyone envious.
It took our newborn less than a week to destroy all our plans, ideals, and goals. The reality of it all is that no matter how much you plan, it will never go as planned. Surviving marriage after kids may sound like a cakewalk, it is anything but.
After the baby came along, sleep-deprived and often tired, even the simplest of things like ‘What to have for dinner?’ or ‘What movie to watch?’ led to arguments and debates. We even secretly started keeping score of what we each did for the baby and the household leading to more arguments.
Marriage Struggles After Baby
I remember when we used to spend an entire weekend in bed or just cuddling up on the couch and having movie marathons. It gave us much-needed downtime from the pressures of our professional lives and we were fresh to face the rest of the week. With a kid thrown into the mix, weekends became hectic, and keeping the marriage strong proved difficult.
Surviving marriage after kids is hard. Our to-do list just kept on increasing. Most of our free time was spent sterilizing bottles, removing food particles from the crevices of various pieces of furniture, mashing vegetables, and of course, disposing of diapers.
Sex. Yes, it’s an integral part of any couple’s relationship. For most people in a healthy relationship, sex is this amazing, impromptu thing. And that’s what makes it special. It’s what I call an ‘argument cleanser’ – everybody wins at the end. When the baby arrived, we knew it would affect our sexual intimacy. But we didn’t quite expect it to turn into a marriage crisis.
First of all, it took months for my wife to recover from the trauma of the delivery, and eventually, when the S-card was back on the table, it was almost as if we had to set appointments. We couldn’t even squeeze in a quickie without worrying about the kid waking up. In retrospect, that made us crankier than usual too.
As a couple, we had always tried to live in the moment as much as we could. It certainly helped keep that ‘spark’ in our relationship alive. And, as with most couples in love, we would send each other ‘I miss you’ and ‘Wish you were here’ texts when we were apart. Once we had a kid, we soon realized that it was going to be nearly impossible to get each other’s undivided attention anymore. And, thus, we realized how difficult surviving marriage after kids actually is.
All our plans and agendas revolved around him, and even on a rare date night, we ended up discussing him instead of ourselves. As for those texts, the content had changed slightly. It now read along the lines of ‘I miss you. I wish you were here to change the diapers.’ I suppose that’s how marriage after kids is always like. But knowing that didn’t make it any easier to deal with.
We started making our marriage a priority
I won’t lie, the transition from coupledom to parenthood was stressful and we started dealing with the age-old marriage struggles after baby. But soon we realized that in our efforts to ensure the well-being of our son, we forgot and, in fact, at times took for granted, the well-being of our marriage. Once the realization that we needed to balance out our time between parenting and our marriage, things soon started to change for the better.
Today, we’re in a better place and our relationship is stronger than ever before. Somehow, we ended up surviving marriage after kids. We’ve worked on our communication and dealt with the feelings of being trapped in the marriage head-on. We’ve learned to lower our expectations and make sure we get some ‘us’ time as frequently as we can. Yes, some of our ‘candlelight dinner at a nice restaurant’ nights have turned into ‘candlelight dinner at home after the kid has slept’ nights, but it’s worth it.
We have a reliable babysitter who we can call on when we really need a break from the three of us and want a few brief hours of ‘two of us’. We have learned how to work around the new responsibilities and added worries and become used to the changing dynamics of a relationship after kids and the intimacy issues it brings.
Related reading: Six ways couples can achieve work-life balance
And most of all, we’ve started giving each other some ‘me-time’ – free from parenting and coupledom; just free to do whatever it is that we choose to do without being bothered by someone else. Even if it is to just sleep. Making a marriage stronger, especially when you throw a kid into the mix, is no mean feat.
At the end of the day, our biggest realization has been that although having a kid did rock the boat of our marriage slightly, we’ve emerged stronger and happier as a couple. So here’s the ugly truth – if you can make it through having a baby and the first few years together, you can make it through almost anything.
A lot of couples struggle after having kids because they just can’t cope with the changed dynamics of the relationship. You stop focusing on each other and a ton of added responsibilities get thrown into the mix, leading to marriage struggles after baby.
Healthy communication is key. If you are struggling with the responsibilities and added workload, ask your partner to help out. It is important to voice your concerns and not let resentment build. Also, while it may be difficult initially, it is also important to pay attention to each other and focus on keeping marriage strong even after having kids.