Maintaining A Succesful Marriage With Kids
Posted on March 25 2019
Everyone paints this mental picture that marriage is a walk in the park, where you are staring into each other’s eyes with pure infatuation. The dream that married life is filled with honeymoon vibes and sweet kisses is engrained in our thoughts. For all of us that have taken that step into matrimony, we know that marriage isn’t all bliss. We are coached to love for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health but what happened to the part about “through the addition of kids?”
Maintaining a healthy marriage is a task in itself, but when we add a child to the equation, things can change quickly. Most of us believe that a child will bring us closer, yet as moms, it is natural that when our connection with our child grows, our relationships with everyone else suffer significantly. We have less time for friends, co-workers and our partners.
An article written in The Conversation by Matthew D. Johnson, a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University, states that having children affects marriage in the following ways: the relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along, comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples. In the event that a pregnancy is unplanned, the parents experience even greater negative impacts on their relationships.
Professor Johnson also found that as mental satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines; meaning more of us stay together despite being unhappy.
The job as parents can be seen as a burden once finances are calculated and we begin to realize the added cost of everything from diapers to college. The spouse that takes on more of the financial responsibility can feel overwhelmed in their duties; while the spouse that is completing the majority of the parental tasks in the home can feel undervalued.
For Joe and I, once we entered the realm of three kids, our conversations turned more into staff meetings. We talked about what needed to be done for the kids, the scheduling of their games and activities and what they did that made our heads spin. The question of “How was your day?” was met with an eye roll from me. We both got to the point where we realized that we didn’t want to lose “us” in taking care of them.
In order for us to maintain a successful marriage, there is a lot of sacrifices we have to make. We made a vow to always remember to stick to the fundamentals of what we both need. The key to a happy, successful marriage is not love, it’s putting in the work to keep the friendship that led to love! There are a few things that have worked for us that may work for you as well.
It’s so hard to have alone time with kids. We can’t even use the bathroom without little ones peaking under the door. Date nights are far and few between for Joe and I, as we aren’t eager to entrust our children with babysitters. If our family isn’t available to watch our kids, we won’t go. This can cause a strain on anyone’s relationship.
To combat this, we started picking nights where we would pre-plan to watch a movie or show. Regardless to if the boys are asleep at 7pm or 10pm, we cuddle up afterward and try to enjoy our time. We all know that parent life equals tired life, but this is a sacrifice we are willing to make to ensure we are strong at the core. Yes, we are beyond tired when we wake with them in the morning, but we are smiling about the quality time spent the night before.
Discuss Future Plans
As parents, we always find ourselves talking about what the kids have done, are doing or will do. The dreams and aspirations we have for them are plentiful. In a marriage, you must also discuss the things you want outside of your kids. We don’t want them to leave the nest and we are looking at each other like complete strangers. To combat this, Joe and I talk about our goals for ourselves. We know where we want to live once all the children are off to college. We smile at the idea of various vacation properties and destinations. These conversations help us to keep pushing, while staying connected to what we are both striving for.
Know Your Spouse’s Love Language
We pay attention to our children to make sure their needs are met. I know when Kam cries with a little screech, he wants me to help him; when Jaylen keeps talking to me about random topics, he wants me to spend time with him and when Jaxon asks for kisses, he wants me to hug him so he can nap. We have to put that same effort and thought into the needs of our spouse.
Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, is a great read for anyone but truly helps those that are married with kids. When you know what your spouse responds to, it is so much easier to fulfill their needs. The Five Love Languages are as follows:
- Words of affirmation-expressing love by using words that build up your partner
- Quality time-expressing love by giving your undivided attention; allowing your partner to be your main focus
- Receiving gifts-expressing love by buying things that would make your partner feel loved or appreciated
- Acts of Service-Expressing love by doing things you know your spouse would like
- Physical Touch-expressing love through kisses, hugs, holding hands, etc.
Marriage is like a seesaw without children, once added, it becomes like the Kingda Ka Rollercoaster. There are ups and downs, vomiting and dizziness, yet the butterflies and excitement we get would make us do it all over again! Be sure to maintain your marriage by putting some of these tips in motion or researching ways you feel will work best for you and your partner. We can all have successful marriages, while having children, just by putting the work in.
What are some things that help you to maintain a successful marriage while being parents?