When I met my first husband I had a plan: get married, have a nice, long, honeymoon period of at least five years, buy a house, and have two kids. For the most part, my plan panned out. Unfortunately, I also learned a few harsh truths about marriage after having a kid that were definitely not part of the plan, and eventually ruined my plan beyond recognition.
I had no idea how difficult marriage would be, or how parenthood would highlight those difficulties. So, after two kids and numerous hardships, my marriage ended. Initially I felt like I had failed, but I've since realized that my marriage ending wasn't a failure at all. Instead, it was simply a sign that my now ex-husband wasn't the right person to co-parent with... at least as a married couple. Getting divorced was actually the best thing we could have done not only for ourselves, bur for our kids.
After a few years of rocking that single mom life, I met my current husband who was also already a parent. When we decided to get married we knew we were going into the experience with a heap of knowledge, since we both knew how hard marriage can be after having a child or children. We had already experienced the hard stuff, so we were prepared to face any challenges that awaited us head on.
If you think marriage is hard or your relationship is a lot of work before you have a kid, please know that having a child won't make it any easier. And if you think that having a kid will fix your broken relationship, chances are high you're going to be extremely disappointed. Of course, that doesn't mean you and your spouse can't learn how to navigate the rocky waters of parenthood together, or learn how to nourish a relationship and a child simultaneously. It's just best to go into marriage and parenthood with open eyes, and complete knowledge of the following:
You Will Fight
There’s something about the stress of having kids, on top of the challenges of meshing your life with someone else while tending to the responsibilities of parenthood, that inevitably creates conflict. You will fight with your spouse, and if you go into a relationship thinking that you will never fight or that fighting is abnormal you are in for a rude awakening. All couples fight, even the closest of couples, especially once they have kids.
Having A Kid Will Not Fix A Broken Marriage
The worst way to try to fix the problems in your relationship is to add a kid to the mix. If you think things are bad when it's just the two of you, everything, and I mean everything, will end up worse when you are sleep-deprived, stressed, and responsible for keeping a tiny human alive. As much as I love my daughter I often regret deciding to have her when I did, because it made my bad marriage even worse.
You Should Not Stay Together For The Kids
There are so many times when staying together for the kids is the worst idea imaginable. Your kids deserve a stable home, parents who respect each other, and a parenting team that can co-parent effectively together. If you can’t offer them that, staying together is a terrible idea. Besides, and despite popular belief, leaving my partner made me a better parent.
Your Relationship Will Change
My relationship with my now ex-husband changed dramatically after each of our children was born, and not always for the better. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, because people say kids change everything, but I was shocked at how dramatically different married life would be after having kids.
When I married my current husband I thought things would be different, but having a child changed our relationship, too. As much as I loved seeing my husband be an awesome dad to our son, it definitely made things harder, nonetheless.
You Won’t Have Sex As Often
Don't get me wrong, I love my sex life with my husband. I really do. It’s better than I ever imagined "married sex" could be. But since our youngest son was born, sex doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Sometimes I think our marriage only exists for the two hours between our kids' bedtime and ours, because that's the only time we really have to ourselves.
You Need To Learn To Back Each Other Up
Co-parenting with your partner requires patience, mutual respect, and a willingness to back your partner up even when you think they're wrong. You have got to be on the same team if you want to be successful parents, and that usually means a healthy dose of compromise is involved.
You Won’t Always Agree
There’s no way to be in a relationship with someone, co-parent a kid together, and agree about everything all the time. I found that it’s best to get on the same page about things like feeding, bedtime, and house rules early on, that way you can at least start from the same place and remember that there are some things you do, in fact, agree on.
Seeing Your Spouse As A Parent Is Amazing
It's seriously amazing to co-parent with a person you respect and love. When my son was born I fell in love with my husband even more and in a way I didn't think possible.
Of course, there are moments when co-parenting makes me angry. For example, when I notice how much more I do around the house, or feel like I am taken advantage of by the person I love best, I'm going to be upset. It's in those moments when I know we have to talk it out.
Your Marriage Might Not Last
When I left my ex I thought that I had failed as a wife, a woman, and a mom. It’s hard to admit that marriage doesn't always mean forever, but mine was a disaster and it was better for everyone involved that my marriage ended.
Plus, if I didn't get divorced I never would've met my husband, who is an awesome co-parent, husband, and friend. Marriage is hard, especially after having a kid, but when you find the right person it is totally worth it.