5 Mothers On Marriage Post Kids
It's our wedding anniversary today. We spent it waking up early with a baby, trying to sneak in some cuddles when he would let us (he's very into separating us when we're touching) and then talking through work headaches and planning logistics for the weekend. It was a far cry from our first anniversary when we took ourselves on an indulgent trip to the desert but this somehow felt 100x more romantic. I love the realness of marriage with a child - the partnership, the respect and the learnings about each other. This year, with Bodie, we definitely had to work hard on us - learning to more kindly communicate when things feel stressed and creating flexibility and room for our relationship. So it's our happiest anniversary yet - a reward for our growth as a family. I asked a bunch of women in our circuit to share their take on what's changed in marriage since having kids. You can imagine there was lots to say on the topic:
Anonymous, mother to one, London, UK
My husband and I were once discussing how we increasingly know more couples getting divorced (sad, I know). I turned to him and said, "I don't understand how people have time to get divorced!" ... But I genuinely feel that way. Our marriage is far from perfect but I am often putting out fires in other areas of my life, so the fact that our marriage is not burning keeps it going even if it needs help too.
Once, I was telling an older mom about how I feel our marriage has suffered since having a child and she basically said, "Of course it has, that's totally normal. It will get better, just give it time." That helped me to worry less and put less pressure on myself or my husband about it.
Jacqueline, mother to one, Brooklyn, NY
My husband and I have been together for over 14 years so we have both changed and evolved from who we were when we first fell in love. That can be exciting and it can be challenging - it takes a lot of work to grow together and not apart. I think having a kid impacts and changes you, both in what you value, how you feel and for sure, how much time and bandwidth you have for other things (like your spouse). In that way, for us, the first year of being parents has been about learning and understanding our new selves... this new dimension of who we both are, a mother and a father, and how that added dimension has shifted who we are in other areas.
On the plus side, we both love and adore this little person we made and are in awe that he exists. When we see each other in him, a smile, a scowl, a laugh, I think it makes us love each other that much more.
On the more complicated side, the love you have for your child is different than that of your spouse, at least for us. Before our son, we loved each other above all else, anyone. We were partners in crime, just the two of us. Now there is another person there that we love more than anything and if we had to choose for some reason, he would come first. That doesn't diminish the love we have for each other, but it is a shift that is felt sometimes. You aren't the center of your own universe anymore, and you aren't the center of your spouses', and sometimes that can feel shitty. Sometimes it feels like as a wife, I am not important anymore in that way and I know my husband feels the same sometimes.
We try to remind ourselves that right now parenting is new, and our son needs so much of us and that our feelings are all ok, even the negative ones. We went away when our son was 6 months for four nights, which was very helpful in letting us remember our roles as husband and wife and best friends. We are planning on doing it again when our son is 1 and a half. We are also prioritizing date nights. Once a month is the goal, even if we are tired and would prefer to just watch Netflix and sleep. We let ourselves, and each other, luxuriate in the new love we have for our son but we also remind ourselves and each other that he will grow up, he will have his own life and desires and wants, and when that happens, while he will still be the center of our universe, it is important that we are both still standing side by side as partners in crime.
Marriage is like anything else. it takes work to be good and stay healthy.
Marissa, mother to two, New York, NY
The largest shift was not being able to do what we want when we want it. Also, now we are not only making choices for ourselves - the decisions we make are for our children too which carries a lot of weight and importance. We try to talk things through and be open with each other but it's definitely been a work in progress to get there.
The game-changer was hiring a Saturday night babysitter. We have her come every week, regardless of if we have plans - some nights we run around the corner for a quick bite but having that time that is ours is very important. We also try to get away just the two of us, without kids.
I've had to adjust to being more open minded in recognizing that there isn't always a right way to do things. I hate when I hear people talk about the best - the best doctor, the best baby nurse, the best anything - there is no best, the best is what for works for you and your family. Having children meant I don't get to call all the shots anymore and I have to agree with my husband on what we, together, believe is best for our kids. Fortunately, we seem to be on the same page for most things but there are times we don't see eye to eye and learning to compromise has been tough but important.
Tali, mother to one, New York, NY
The thing we feel the most is the lack of our time together. Before we had our son, if we needed to invest more in "us" we had the luxury of time! Now it's so hard to steal that time and we are often so tired... whenever we do have some "us" time we are completely invigorated by the novelty of it. We are figuring out how to have more quality time with way less quantity and also how to fight more effectively. We have definitely had to be more concise with our 'disagreements'. Who has the time to fight when you have kids and friends and work etc?
We are more conscious about our sleep. Having an active toddler is so physical and so going out at night and burning the candle to be uber social simply doesn't cut it. We try to make sure we are both sleeping enough and have enough time disconnected from our phones and emails.
In a way having a kid has made us more independent from one another. I have had to find my own happiness and fulfillment outside of my husband because our time together is so much less and so different than it was.
Jacqui, mother to one, New York, NY
The biggest change was the lack of time together. So much of our relationship is now about logistics regarding our household that we have less time to just be us and enjoy one another as humans.
We try and create date nights and we just went on a vacation without our kid. 1 week in Europe was so incredible. It was like we were a couple again, not just mama and dada. I have had to give up on a lot of late nights because I can’t mother on no sleep. Boring, I know but I have to be really picky about who I spend time with and when I get home to bed. If it’s not worth it, it's not worth it.
I also have to be a good example for my kid so the way I interact with others and my husband has to be respectful and calm. I want a happy household so that she feels secure.
Lauren, mother to two, Long Island, NY
The changes were expected - less time for each other and a little less patience for my husband (honestly & unfortunately). To keep us strong, we're committed to making time for each other--dates, breakfasts alone, anytime we can. Having kids, I feel more secure in our relationship but I also need to make sure I make the time to connect with my husband. We're always figuring it out because there are always new phases in our lives and our children's lives so we are consistently working to meet in the middle.