10 Ways Having Kids Changes a Marriage


First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage; we trilled this little diddy our entirely lives and then we grew up, did it and now we are living it. Marriage and kids are a fabulous mix and they are also tragic mix. There’s a lot of sacrifice that comes with having kids (such as using the restroom without an audience…but at least they clap!). But, there is also a lot of joy and a lot of happiness that comes into your marriage when you welcome kids. These little people are pretty cool. I’m both a wife and a mother, and while my story might not be anything like anyone else’s, it’s still something that gives me a little bit of expertise on the subject matter.

My husband and I met on a blind date 14 years ago. I was a senior in high school, he a freshman in college. He proposed to me a year and-a-half later, we were married two years after that. We were married for three years before we made the decision to have kids. Fast forward to this day and we’ve been married 10 years and 4 months, and we now have four kids. Yes, four kids. It’s a lot of kids. They out-number us in every which way. They’re 7, 4.5 and 1.5-year-old twins. They’re all gorgeous and hilarious and precocious and sweet and intelligent, but they’re all tiny little monsters at times. They make us simultaneously love them and want to ship them off to boarding school (year-round, of course) at the same time.

They make us furious in one moment and fill our hearts with overwhelming joy the next. In fact, we call them not our children, but our emotional roller coasters. They’re exhausting, and that’s all in the first five minutes of the day. Our marriage has certainly changed since we welcomed our first daughter, and it continues to change every day. It grows, it changes and it makes us realize that we have it pretty good. Many marriages don’t last after children, and it’s understandable (I mean, shipping the kids off half the time to go with daddy seems like a nice vacation sometimes, right??). But ours has flourished, and I’m pretty sure it’s because we’ve chosen to focus on it.

No, it’s because we are outnumbered and neither of us wants to have full custody without the other’s help. Kidding, mostly. We are a team, and viewing our marriage as a team effort, and parenting as a team effort, has helped tremendously. If you are welcoming your first child, considering starting a family or just experiencing the changes that go along with having children in your marriage, you might want to know what kind of changes to expect. Every marriage is different, but these are changes that I’ve experienced in my marriage and that I’ve seen others experience in theirs after the births of those tiny humans we call the loves of our lives.

Just because you have kids does not mean that your marriage changes for the worse. So many people focus on the negatives, but I’ve always been a big believer in focusing on the positives. Sure, you might bicker more often or become short with one another thanks to the fact that you are sleep-deprived and anxious, but we choose to put our focus on being kinder and not meaner to one another, and it works. Don’t let others tell you that your marriage is doomed to fail once the littles arrived. It’s not – but it all depends on your outlook.

You learn to value one another tremendously

The one thing that I learned first when our oldest daughter was born is that I value my husband so much more than I ever have. He is such a tremendous father and husband, and I appreciate that so much. I’ve never once had to ask him to change a diaper or help with a feeding, or do dishes or laundry or give the babies a bath. He does it of his own accord every day because, “These are my children, and that’s what being a father means,” in his words (swoon!).

I value that so much, especially when I hear other moms complain that their husbands are not helpful. And he values me so much more than ever, because he is in awe of all that I can accomplish (so am I, really).

You learn to work together more accordingly

Teamwork is the key to a successful marriage in any circumstance, but never more so than when you have kids. Those little people are so cute that it’s hard – hard – to be mad at them, but having a partner to remind you that you have to be a parent and not just a person who ignores the horrible things the tiny cute people do is really important. And it helps our marriage to be partners in everything.

Your arguments change drastically

We still argue – regularly. Really, my husband did not become a better driver when our kids were born, nor did he start doing things the way I told him on the first try. We disagree all the time – because we are opposites. But our style of fighting has changed. We like to be productive about it. We no longer raise our voices, because we like to show our kids what a healthy debate looks like. We want them to understand that arguments and disagreements in a marriage happen, but they’re not the worst things ever. We want them to see respectful arguing and learn to apply that in their own lives.

Now, that’s not to say that I sometimes do not feel the overwhelming urge to hurl a shoe at him when he continues to hang up the kids’ clothes in the wrong closets and drawers, causing last-minute school morning when we are already late panic moments of torture, but I don’t. Mostly because he’s already at work. But I will send a passive aggressive text to him when this happens so he knows I’m bitter. Also, I’ve been told I’m not allowed to complain about this since he actually does laundry.

You’ll never find your husband more attractive

I’m telling you, ladies, nothing is sexier than a daddy with a sweet baby. Nothing. Not a thing in the world. Now I understand why so many women fail to make it the six required weeks their doctor warns them to wait.

You’ll finally understand the ‘mommy hustle’

Yes, the mommy hustle. I’m a clean, anal retentive neat freak, but that hour before my husband gets home after I get home from picking the big kids up from school is a hustle. It’s me doing homework with the kids, feeling the twins, prying our 4-year-old off our babies because she thinks that they are just big baby dolls, finishing up that last load of laundry or dishes or prepping dinner and making sure everything is spotless because there is this tiny part of me that wants him to come home and really appreciate me. I want him to see me looking gorgeous, the kids looking clean and cute and put together, and I want him to think I’m supermom. Probably because he makes superdad look so easy and I want him to see how hard I work – and think that I’m really just the best.

During the summer, this also includes brushing kids’ hair and changing everyone out of their pajamas.

You’ll learn to refocus your priorities

Our priorities changed when we had babies. We love our kids more than anything, but we realized we began putting more of our priority into our marriage. We do not want to be that divorced couple, or that couple with nothing in common when our kids don’t need us anymore (when is that, though, I’d like to make a countdown calendar for that day?). We focus on date nights, little getaways…we have refocused our priorities, but made our marriage one of them.

You’ll learn that intimate time together changes

So many people said it wouldn’t be possible to be intimate after kids. They said things like “sleep deprived,” “exhausted,” “so tired you don’t even want to be touched,” and we thought we might try to make sure that did not happen. Fortunately, we were blessed with four kids that have always slept like tiny champs, so we’ve never experienced sleep-deprivation. Sure, we’re tired, but we still make time to be intimate because really, it’s nice, and we like it.

You might feel some resentment at times

There are days in which I look at my husband and resent the things he’s complaining about. Annoying coworkers, the long drive to work…and I want to say to him, “Suck it up, buttercup. I work from home, so my coworkers literally need me to change their poop on a regular basis, they yell, they scream and they are relentless. My time in the car with four kids at a time, or two at a time, and I don’t get to spend 45 minutes in complete silence enjoying morning radio talk shows or actual music. If I have to hear “Frozen” in the DVD player one more time…” but I try not to.

His reality is different than mine, and the grass is always greener. I know that in return, he sometimes listens to me complain that the kids were particularly needy or that I didn’t have much time to work that day and he thinks to himself, “Oh, shut it. You get to be with the kids all day long and you never miss their first steps or words or cute moments. I get home an hour before they go to bed at night and I miss them, so you can kiss my you-know-what,” Thankfully he keeps that to himself.

You find that situations in life are hilarious and you want to share more of that

Our lives have become a myriad of hilarious, and it’s so much fun for our marriage. We laugh so much more now than we ever did, and we laughed a lot before kids. Our kids crack us up, and the situations in which they put us are so funny that we have to hold it together more often than not – and we usually fail. Our 4-year-old, in particular, is a regular comedian and it’s difficult to keep a straight face around her, and it makes us appreciate having one another with whom to share these moments. Last month, for example, we were taking our big girls to spend a few days in northern Tennessee where we, along with friends and family, rent a huge house on this gorgeous lake and boat, water ski and tube all day, every day.

In the airport, our four-year-old looked at this couple who were just in awe of how cute our girls are. She narrowed her eyes to a slit, glared at them and said, “Please stop staring at me and talking about me. It’s rude, and I don’t like it,” and we couldn’t even keep it together. Luckily, neither could anyone else. Or how about, after hearing some construction workers in our home speaking, that time she came up to me and said, “Mommy, is f***ing gosh a bad word?” When I told her it’s a terrible word, she replied, “Okay, thanks. I’m just really mad at my doll right now and I wanted to know if I could say that to her. But I won’t,” and then walked away. I mean, I could go on, but we’d be here for months. I’m writing a book about that kid and her hilarious moments – mark my words.

You’ll learn to make like Elsa and let it go

So many things are not worth the time it takes to bother with them anymore. My husband has learned to accept my special brand of crazy, and I his. We no longer nitpick and focus on the trivial. Instead, we just let it go and pick our battles. It’s worked well.

Photo by Getty Images


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