This was a hard post to write because we’re so not perfect and we probably argue a little too much. But It’s things like this that I know need to be talked about. I have a masters in psychology and I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist but I should not be put on any marital pedestal. So let this be a memoir of sorts for how your marriage changes when you have children and how to make yours better.
The truth is I love my husband. He’s the man I chose to do life with, he’s in the trenches of parenthood with me, he loves my body in all its various shapes and sizes, and he cooks! But every mama knows that the months after childbirth can be hairy, hard to navigate, and filled with hormones.
I gave birth to our second son 3 months ago and at the end of the day I often feel I have nothing to give my man. It’s funny and ironic that many times during the day I think about how great he is and all that he does for us, yet when he comes home he is the brunt of my frustration and the catchers mitt I throw my emotions at. Now don’t feel too bad for him because I’ve been that catchers mitt a few times too. The more I dwell on love and marriage the more I’m certain that love is not a feeling it’s a choice, a choice to continue being a team, partners, lovers, and parents together.
So what keeps us married and not just married but happily married with children? I asked some wise friends, interviewed my husband, and sourced through my own life experiences to give you this list.
- Greet each other at the end of the day with a smile and a welcoming demeanor.
- Thank each other for your individual roles and tasks.
- Accept each other’s emotions as not good or bad and do not take them on as your own.
- Encourage one another: This one took me a long time to figure out. When your partner is negative, you don’t have to be negative back. Validate the negativity or emotion you see in the other person and try to not let it take you over as well. Remember emotions come and go.
- Don’t try to one-up each other. Conversations while married with children can often turn into a sparing match of who’s day was harder and that’s just not productive. Choose to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and discipline yourself to think of them before yourself.
- Women don’t beat up on your body in front of your man. According to my husband this is extremely unsexy.
- Men if you aren’t telling your woman she is beautiful then you should be. Women want to feel captivating so show her some affection and compliment her mind and body.
- Make time for one another. In a perfect world every coparenting couple would have a date night once a week but even that can be challenging so date your spouse at home. Find a show on Netflix you like to watch together, have a glass of wine or tea together after the kids go to bed, read a book or listen to the same podcast together that you both can talk about.
- Be patient with each other; there has to be room to be human, make mistakes and grow. Ultimately be committed to grow and change with your partner.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: This will look different for each relationship but find out what makes your partner feel respected. Respect in marriage looks a lot like love.
I hope this was helpful and encouraging. Remember I don’t have this all down myself. This is a benchmark to follow and something I’m striving for in my own marriage. Working on your relationship is always worth it…everybody, especially your children will benefit from a healthy family.
Photography by Kelly Fondots