Kids have a way of storming into your life and changing everything! Everyday tasks you used to take for granted (like taking an uninterrupted shower, or eating a nice quiet meal without having an hour long negotiation over 1 measly bite of broccoli) become the things you only daydream about.
If you’re anything like me, you find yourself asking the question “How on earth do you find the time and energy to keep your marriage strong in the midst of all the chaos of making sure your kids stay alive, all whilst maintaining your sanity?” It all just seems too much some days.
And it is.
It is a lot to ask.
But it is doable.
And I’m here to share with you what I have learned in the last nine years of being married.
7 Ways to keep your Marriage Strong after kids
1. Set Priorities
Get on the same page with your priorities. What is important to you? Is it important to have a date night once a week? Or maybe it’s really important to you that the bathroom gets cleaned everyday, or that you get out of the house 3 times a week.
Make a list of things that are important to you and talk about it with your husband. Be realistic with what you put on your list, and then work together to make these things a priority for each other.
Learning what is important to your spouse, and then helping them with it will draw you closer together.
2. The 10 second Kiss
My good friend Noella over at noellareeder.com talks about this as a way to reconnect as husband and wife when you are living a busy life.
When he comes home from work, greet him at the door with more than just a peck on the lips. Take your time and really kiss him like you mean it. Aim to kiss for at least 10 seconds, and if it lasts longer then that’s just a little bonus!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to count to 10 while kissing your husband.
That would just be weird.
Okay, moving on.
At a time when my libido was in the dumps, this really helped me to connect to my husband and reignite that flame. Being intentional about making that physical connection gave me the boost I needed to crave more.
It wasn’t an overnight fix, and having a very understanding husband definitely helped. But making the choice to show love in a physical way has more benefits than I can count. So if this is something you struggle with, then I challenge you to try it out!
3. Wait to unload your stress on each other
My husband used to come home from work and I would immediately bombard him with all of my stresses from the day, and want to have a deep meaningful conversation about it right then and there. Meanwhile, my husband had just walked in the door after dealing with people all day and he had little energy left to give me the attention I wanted.
Needless to say, I was left feeling rejected and unloved.
That was not his intention at all. He wanted to give me his undivided attention, but he needed a few minutes to unwind and change into his husband/daddy role.
Once I understood that he wasn’t rejecting me, I was able to give him the time he needed to unwind before I began chattering about my day. So kiss him, and then give him time to unwind! Or vice versa if your the one coming home from work.
4. Early Bedtime!
Hallelujah!! Bedtime is my favourite time of the day!
We have always made bedtime a priority in our house for many reasons. The most important reason is that this introverted momma needs time to be alone, decompress, and relax!
I’ve had many friends say to me “how do your kids go to sleep so easily?”. Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question, except that we have made bedtime a priority since day one.
We have a bedtime routine and we stick to it. Then its lights out, and mommy and daddy clock out so we can have some alone time together before it starts all over the next day. (Maybe one day I’ll write about our bedtime routine 😉
5. Look for the Positive
Don’t focus on the things that your husband isn’t doing; look for the ways he is helping you. It’s so easy to notice the dishes left in the sink, or the socks left on the floor, but it does nothing for your relationship to complain and nag him about those things 24/7. Instead, look for the things he is helping you with, and thank him, even if it is not something you need him to do.
Hold on a minute! How is this helping me you ask?
I know, I know. You need him to help you with the housework, the cooking, or driving kids around, and I’m telling you to thank him for something that didn’t even make it onto your to-do list.
Hear me out for a sec. I know it’s hard when you have a list a mile long and you feel like you’re the only one checking items off, but by taking notice of the things he is doing, you might just see that he really is trying to help you. Whether he’s playing with the kids while you cook dinner, or he helps put the kids to bed, or he puts gas in the car, all of those little things help even if it’s not what you asked him to do.
When you speak words of gratitude it does two things:
- It changes your perspective. Instead of focusing your energy on the negative, you’re turning your attention toward what he is doing to help you. It’s like a little mind-game. It takes practice and intentionality to change the way you think, and when you look around, you might just see that he really is trying to help you in his own way.
- It makes him feel appreciated. Instead of feeling like a failure 99% of the time, he will feel appreciated for his efforts and may begin to put in more effort to help you.
- Okay I thought of a third one… When you speak words of encouragement and gratitude it changes the mood of everyone around you. This then opens the doors to communication in a positive way, instead of you just nagging all time.
This leads me to my next point.
There’s a reason why every marriage advice book or article talks about communication. It’s the glue that keeps you together. Without it, you will never have your needs met, and you will quickly grow to resent one another.
Communication doesn’t just happen, it’s something to be intentional about. Plan a time to sit down and talk about expectations. A time when you can give each-other your undivided attention without bashing each other, or nagging. It’s a time to talk about what is working and what needs improvement.
Work together to reach an agreement.
This is an ongoing practice that will lead you towards being a team!
7. Make your husband your #1
It may seem like eons away, but before you know it, your kids will be moving out and you’ll be stuck at home with none other than your husband. Do you want to be strangers, or best friends? If you answered the latter, then it starts right now. You won’t just magically know and love your husband 18 years down the road. It takes some effort on both of your parts to learn each other and form a lasting bond.
It’s so important to work on your relationship, not just for your sake, but for your kids. Your kids will be watching and learning what it means to have a healthy relationship, and I believe this is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids. I’m very grateful that both my husband and I had our parents to show us what a healthy marriage looks like.
I hope and pray that you can take at least one thing from this list and apply it to your own relationship. It’s so important to maintain dialogue with your partner and to learn to work together as a team, because you and I both know, this ain’t easy! Having kids adds a whole other dimension to your relationship, and by having a few tools in your back pocket, you can work your way to having a marriage that lasts.
With Much love,
Books I recommend (affiliate links)