There's definitely a particular image that comes to mind when you think of marriage and "happily ever after" and "family." Usually, it involves two people looking at one another with nothing but love in their eyes, smiling and blissful and without a care in the world. That's a sweet image, to be sure, there's just one problem with it: it isn't realistic and living happily ever after, especially after a baby, isn't as easy as it sounds. It might not be romantic, but there are things no one tells you about marriage after a baby; Things that should be openly discussed, even if it means ruining that "image" of marriage and family; Things that, honestly, would prepare more couples ahead of time, and affect relationships in a positive way; Things that don't take away from the many, many incredible parts of marriage but, instead, help solidify marriage as a life-long commitment.
Your relationship will change after you have kids. Your sex life will change and your social life will change and how you handle certain situations will, without a doubt, change. What you consider "normal" will evolve, usually for the better, but navigating your way through those changes and establishing this new "normal" with your partner can, well, be stressful and frustrating and difficult.
Marriage can be harder after kids, for sure, but nothing worthwhile comes easily, right? Part of getting through those inevitable challenges together is understanding that one bad day or week or even month (or even year), doesn't define an entire relationship. If you and your spouse can accept that neither of you are perfect, and continue to learn how to work together as a unit and even when you don't want to, you'll grow in your marriage and in parenthood, even and especially when it doesn't look or feel "perfect." I'm not ashamed to admit that my husband and I are nowhere near perfect, so I'm not afraid to admit the following ten things about marriage after kids:
You Might Not Like Your Partner Every Day
Getting along with someone every day for the rest of your life just isn't realistic. I don't care how much you love your partner, there are going to be days when you just don't like them. When you're exhausted, everything they do might get on your nerves. (Seriously, you will hear them chewing and become suddenly infuriated.) It's normal. It's natural. It'll happen to you both.
You Might Even Resent Them A Little
I remember when I was trying to breastfeed my first son, my husband would get up with me in the middle of the night to support me (awesome) only to fall asleep on the couch beside me (not cool). I would just stare at him, angry and resentful that he didn't have to make the sort of sacrifice I was making. He got up, sure, but he immediately fell back asleep. What is that?! After weeks of zero sleep and the same routine, I started to resent him. Sure, there wasn't really anything he could have done and his effort to support me counted, but minds do weird things when they're sleep-deprived, and mine just didn't have any room for reason.
Sometimes Your Relationship Takes A Back Seat To Your Baby
I wish I could say that my husband and I are able to put the needs of our relationship front and center every single second of every single day, but that's a lie. Our relationship takes a back seat to our kids almost all of the time. We don't have much help, so date nights sans kids usually only happen every four months or so. Yes, really. It's not like that for everyone, but our own unique situation makes any one-on-one time difficult to facilitate or enjoy. We're happy to put our kids first, but we definitely miss our time together.
Sex Has To Be Scheduled
Sometimes sex has to be scheduled around naps and supper and work and school and, well, you get the picture. Sex is still very much a wanted and valued and enjoyed thing in our relationship, but there's so much going on that finding enough time (and energy) at the end of the day is, well, complicated. Even if we do get the kids to bed early, we're sometimes too tired to move. Sometimes, getting a full night's rest is just as sexy as sex itself.
You Might Feel Alone
Every person is going to struggle with some aspect of parenthood at some point. I work from home, (which, trust me, isn't as great as it sounds) and I'm constantly trying to get my job done in a timely manner while also tending to my two boys. It feels like I have two full-time jobs, and trying to be good at both aspects of my life is a constant struggle. It makes me feel so alone and like my husband could never possibly understand what even one day in my shoes is like. Of course, he has struggles of his own, too. Sometimes his job causes him to get home late, when the kids are tired and crabby or already in bed, and he misses out on spending quality time with them. I try to remember that the door swings both ways and, when it does, it's hard for everyone.
Going To Bed Before Nine Is, Like, The Best Thing Ever
The other night, I got a text that woke my husband and I up. It was maybe 10:30 PM, but we were both sound asleep. When I checked my phone to see who it was, my husband said, "Don't they know we have kids and go to bed at 9:00?" We both laughed and immediately fell back asleep.
You Will Learn To Appreciate Each Other More
You'll experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows when you're raising kids. Some days are fantastic and blissful and make me want to have 12 more kids because mine are just so damn awesome, but other days I want to scream and drink at 9:00 AM and run away and physically remove my ovaries from my body. On those days when I want to quit, I'm so thankful that my husband picks up my slack without question. We share responsibilities equally, but if one of us is struggling too hard, the other will step up and handle more than what is usually required. Watching him prepare supper for our family and bathe the kids and put them to bed and clean the house afterwards, all while I lay on the couch with a blanket on my face because I'm about to have a nervous break down, makes me appreciate him more than I could ever explain.
Spending An Hour Alone On The Couch Together Will Feel Better Than Any Fancy Date Ever Did
We might not get many date nights outside of our house and away from our kids, but we have just as much fun, if not more, at home. After our kids go to bed, we pour ourselves a drink and talk and laugh and binge watch our favorite shows. Weekend nights we stay up later to spend time together, doing nothing at all really, but it makes me happier than any Friday night at a bar ever did. When you're married and have kids, you have to take advantage of every minute that you have together without your kids, so even though we wake up on Saturday mornings tired, it's worth getting to enjoy each other's company the night before.
You Might Fight About Something Really Really, Really Stupid
My husband and I have fought about baby poop before. Yes, really. I really don't remember the details, but I do remember saying something to the effect of, "Well, was it hard or soft? How dark was it? What kind of person doesn't know what's a good poop and a bad poop?" It's funny now, but I'm certain that no one was laughing when it happened.
Marriage Gets Harder After Baby, But It Can Also Get Better
My husband and I have both slammed doors and walked away in the middle of an argument. We've gone to bed without speaking and we've each spent turns sleeping on the couch at some point, especially when we first became parents and where exhausted and overwhelmed and learning how to balance it all. We've got two kids and have been married for four years now, and though we have our heated moments from time to time, we have mutual respect and appreciation for one another. We know what lines not to cross and what buttons not to push, and our good days outweigh our bad days by a landslide. Having kids has made parts of our relationship difficult, no question about it, but when I think about all of the struggles of being a parent, I realize there's no one I would rather struggle with than my husband. I know it's cheesy, but I really do love him more every day. I just might not like him every day.