It’s certainly very important to have a solid foundation in your marriage before you have children. If there are any cracks on the surface, they are only going to get wider after you have children. Adding kids to the mix, especially your first, can put a strain on a weak marriage.
Managing your marriage after children will only get harder. It’s not to say that your marriage is doomed or that your life is over, but it sure helps to have a healthy relationship from the beginning. It is very important to not forget about your spouse once you have a baby.
You may think that the new baby or the rest of the kids are your first priority but that’s not the case. Your spouse and your relationship need to be the top of your list so that you have a healthy environment and a team network to raise your children together. Otherwise, things are going to start to fall apart. Marriage therapists have plenty of solutions for you to keep your marriage strong. Just by adding a few simple things to your routine you can make sure you are still appreciating each other in the process.
Check out these 20 ways for new parents to make their marriage more peaceful.
20 Stop Feeling Guilty About Spending Time With Your Partner
Sometimes mothers can find it hard to leave their children at home to spend time with their spouse, especially at the beginning. They get consumed with guilt and in the end neglect their spouse in the process. They feel bad getting a babysitter and will even feel guilty because they feel they are neglecting their child. Marriage therapist Rachel Sussman says,
"By making your children the most important thing, you are neglecting your partner. And then how is your child going to feel if that marriage falls apart?"
19 Make Sure You Are Nurturing your Partner
Spending all of your time with your child may seem like the best thing to do, but in a sense, you are harming your relationship in the meantime.
Date night is super important, especially if you can’t remember the last time you did it.
"Making your kids the center of your life may seem child-friendly, but it can create long-term unhappiness for everyone in the family," says David Code, an Episcopal minister and author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First. Make sure that you guys have a designated date night and never break those plans.
18 Re-Examine Your Relationship After Baby
You need to accept that your marriage will never be the same after you have a child and that’s okay. You just need to reframe your relationship so that everything works with a baby in it. Novelist, Nora Ephron, once said, "A child is a [wrench in the plan]. When you have a baby, [there's a sudden detour] in your marriage, and when the dust settles, your marriage is different from what it was." Go with the changes instead of fighting against them, it’s the best way to keep things moving as a team unit.
17 Parent So That Your Kids Need You Less
Many parents forget that the whole point of parenting is so that one day our kids won’t need us anymore. Marriage therapist Hal Runkel says, "People feel like they don't have permission" to shift their focus from their kids to their partner, they say, "The kids need me." It’s a mistake to hover around your children and assume they always need you. "By just going away," Runkel said, "you're communicating to your kids: You're able to handle life without me for a weekend. I believe in you." Your kids will be okay if you have to leave them to spend time with your partner.
16 Have Weekly Updates With Your Partner
It is important to have weekly check-ins with your partner just like you would with your best friend if you knew they were upset by something. If your husband comes home from work, it could be tempting to just hand him the baby and run but if you notice something wrong, then check-in with him.
Remember the days when you used to talk about everything? You need to get back to those days and make sure you aren’t losing each other in the shuffle.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to just share a highlight in your day.
15 Don’t Give Your Emotions Power
Major changes in your life like moving, a new baby or a career change can heighten emotions.
"Ignore your emotions for the first six months."
Now, why would you want to do that? By putting our heightened emotions aside, we can try new challenging things without being overcome by fear. Having a baby is a huge change in your life and you don’t want a child tearing you apart. You are going to find your groove as long as you work together.
14 Have A Date Night Every Single Night
Think it’s impossible? It’s not. "I heartily recommend that you work like crazy to establish a consistent bedtime" for the kids, Runkel said, that way you are your partner have time together every night. This solves the problem about having to get a babysitter. By having some time every night, you can connect on a regular basis. "It helps you get through the difficult 'now,’" Runkel said. Even if you are having a rough night with the kids, you know by their bedtime you will have time with your partner.
13 Do Not Autopilot Your Marriage
You may think that your marriage will survive on autopilot mode while you deal with diapers and formula, but it won’t. "In the year after my son Kevin was born, I thought my marriage was in jeopardy," admits Caroline Bogeaus, of Agoura Hills, California. "I felt like my husband left all of the work of parenting to me, and there were days when I was so angry that I couldn't even look at him. But I didn't want us to fight, so I stayed silent and got even madder."
Address tense subjects immediately, don’t let it wait for another time.
12 Have Gratitude For Your Partner
If you see your husband taking over and watching the baby for you or going on diaper duty, make sure to show your appreciation. If he’s noticed you have been up all night, then he can make you dinner. Psychologist John Gottman Ph.D. has been studying marriages and knows what happy couples do to stay strong. One principle he says is, "Happy couples are scanning the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Unhappy couples are scanning the social environment for partners' mistakes."
11 Make Alone Time A Priority
It might make you sad when your child begs you not to go out but making your relationship a priority is important. "Couples need to work harder to find a good babysitter," says Scott Stanley, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver.
Make sure you have a great babysitter that your child loves, so you will feel less guilty because your child will be having so much fun.
One Parent user said, “I'm afraid if we didn't do this now, when the kids are grown up, I'd look at Craig and say, 'Who are you?'"
10 Ask For Help When You Need It
It’s okay to ask friends or family for some help if you need it. You don’t have unlimited energy. By having time away from our children, we allow our energy to be replenished.
If your family is offering to help you, then take them up on the offer.
Remember the saying, “It takes a village to raise a family?” There is a lot of truth to that because we all need a little help sometimes. If your family doesn’t live near you, then use babysitters or friends.
9 Don’t Forget About Pillow Talk
The last thing that you might be thinking about after having a baby or with multiple children around is your partner’s needs but it’s an important part of marriage. Affection between a couple can also help you to connect to your partner as well as smooth over arguments and decrease stress. Finding the energy, however, can be a struggle. Really you can schedule pillow talk time during nap time or think about installing a lock on your door. Kids also need to see happy parents so it’s okay to be openly loving in front of them.
8 Remember Why You Fell in Love
Remember what it was like when the two of you fell in love in the first time. If things are getting to you, it’s good to remember why you are together in the first place. One Huffpost User stated, “I recently rediscovered a collection of letters we sent each other many years ago and I've reread a handful of them. They make me smile as they transport me to a time when our love was pure, fresh and young, reminding me of the intensity of our passion for one another and highlighting how much we used to communicate it to one another.”
7 Learn to Be A Cheap Date
You may not want to spend a lot of money if date night is going to be a regular occurrence.
You can still focus on time together if you try having a $2 date.
Dr. Pape Cowan says, "It's amazing how budget-conscious parents can be—they beg friends to babysit, and just sit on a park bench and talk." These date nights can also happen at home. Jennifer and Dave Lucchese, of Vienna, Virginia, miss their freedom now that they have two kids. "We make it a priority to put them to bed early, so we can eat dinner alone," she says. "We light candles and keep the TV off."
6 Be the Healthy Couple That Survives
Did you know that there is a statistic that says that out of every ten marriages, only three will remain healthy and happy? The rest either end in divorce or the couple stays together in dysfunction.
Another statistic says that the couples that are healthy will actually live four years longer than the unhealthy couples.
You need to discuss struggles with your partner and have an open and honest relationship. Go on dates, get some help at home, do whatever it takes to keep a close bond together.
5 Find Ways to Be Nice To Each Other
It’s such a simple thing to do and yet it will make all the difference in the world for your marriage. There are three A’s that you should always be expressing in your marriage – affection, admiration and appreciation. It can be easy to snap at our partners when we are irritated but being nice goes a long way. One Parent user says, "'You must have had a really bad day’ is all I need to say to ease his tension. Later, he'll be more inclined to take over bath and bedtime duties. And when he tells me I'm sexy (in sweats and a flannel shirt, no less) I'm more likely to suggest going to bed early for fun.”
4 Don’t Let Things Get Stale
es out the window. They are great for kids but boring for adults. "It's important to find new ways to connect and keep your relationship fresh," says Dr. Waite. Find something different that the two of you can do together outside of the house. Take a pottery class or go on a trip to the farmer's market. You will figure out that you have so much more to talk about now that you got out of your routine. There are so many new and fun things that you haven’t tried together, give it a whirl and see what a difference it makes.
3 Spoil Your Spouse Instead of Your Kids
We have been hearing time and again how important it is to put your spouse first. Your children need to see their parents happy and to live in a safe and secure environment. You may think that your kids are the ones that need the attention and that your husband is a grown man who can take care of himself, but he needs you too.
So, spoil your spouse and let him spoil you.
Surprise him with something nice or do something for him that would be unexpected.
2 It’s Time to Bring Back PDA
Maybe you aren't behaving as you were during the honeymoon stage but it’s time to bring back the passion you had for each other in the beginning. You may find that now you aren’t that affectionate at all anymore. You should be showing affection on a regular basis. That could be holding hands, kissing, dancing in the kitchen or a quick nuzzle.
Some parents won’t be affectionate in front of their kids but it’s important for kids to see their parents in love.
1 Take Time to Transition From Mom to Wife
This is another reason why being firm about bedtimes is so important. After bedtime is your time with your spouse. You will want to have a few moments to transition naturally from “mom” to “wife.” Some women like to take a bath after the kids are in bed so that they have that transition period before they go and spend time with their partner. You feel more refreshed and ready to cuddle up for a movie with your spouse. Maybe in the meantime your partner could put together something delicious to go with the movie.