November 14, 2018
Children change so much in your life.
They change your personal and professional goals.
They change your whole outlook.
They change you.
And they change all of your relationships, including the one with your spouse.
I think many of us associate this type of change negatively, but change can also be a good thing.
I remember when Matt and I first had Ava, it was such a new territory becoming first-time parents that it was hard to navigate our own relationship.
It’s very common to become so absorbed in that new little bundle of joy, giving them all of your life and love, that it’s easy to cast aside many prior relationships, even the one that was the catalyst for your precious new baby.
Matt and I have been married for almost 7 years and together nearly 13.
Do we fight often? Hell, yes.
Do we sometimes not like each other? Many times I don’t even like my kids, so of course we don’t always like each other.
But do I always love him and remember why I married him? Definitely.
I get asked quite a bit how Matt and I are thriving in our marriage after so long and many hurdles, like those sweet, exhausting little children.
I honestly have never really had an answer other than “it just works.”
So, Matt and I sat down and discussed in-depth what makes our marriage special and what are the things we do in our daily life that influence and sustain a positive, lasting marriage.
Please note: I’m not a marriage expert by any means, but our marriage has really been through it all, amazing moments and horrible times. Through each challenge and milestone, we have come out stronger and more in love, so we’ve co-written a few tips based on our personal journey.
We often forget to communicate with our spouse like an equal as opposed to one of our kids (even though sometimes they throw their laundry right next to the hamper like one).
One thing you need to express DAILY to your spouse is gratitude.
Being so exhausted by everyday demands makes it easier to point out the negatives and overlook the positives. But if you really look around, your husband’s positive contributions are all over your home and in your life.
Whether he makes your dinner plate while you feed the new baby, watches the kids while you workout, or assists in bedtime routines, those are all contributions done out of love for YOU!
Each night, Matt is an important part of our bedtime ritual. While I’m getting Mia into bed, he’s getting Ava ready. He’s even made brushing her teeth into a game where he’s the dentist and comments on how great she’s caring for her teeth while he brushes them for her. I think it’s endearing and Ava enjoys it. I’m grateful for the help, and it’s really become an important part of our lives, no matter how small the act.
Whatever that little act of kindness is, show your spouse some love and gratitude. Reciprocation is always encouraged, but just a little bit of praise and affection will go a long way towards a healthy, successful, and lasting marriage.
So grab your spouse, hug them, and tell them why you are thankful for them today!
Conflict can arise when two people with two different viewpoints are raising the same children. From how to change a diaper, to disciplinary practices, once you have children, it’s very easy to see how different you and your partner really are.
But those differences can be a great asset when raising children. It takes a village to raise a child and two different viewpoints can help make a balanced, well-rounded individual.
I’ll get into this a little more in the tip below, but in order to respect your partner, you need to respect their boundaries and beliefs. This means not undermining them or their authority, especially in front of your children.
Trust me, those little animals that you birthed smell weakness and will use it against you any chance they can, so it’s important that you and your husband are united on all fronts.
Respect the boundaries by trusting your partner enough to understand and know why they are choosing to handle a situation a certain way.
Fight (in Private)
This means taking the fight into the bedroom (or really any room with a closed door).
Matt and I don’t agree on everything, but our kids don’t know that. We hash it out after they’ve gone to bed or when we can take a moment to discuss the situation in private.
This is great for helping turn heated fights into constructive arguments by allowing a cool-off period while you wait to talk alone.
So, next time you both want to argue in the kitchen about giving your child a treat before dinner, designate a time to talk about it later and have a constructive argument on how to compromise and see eye-to-eye.
Those who know Matt and me know that affection is a top priority in our marriage.
With kids both grabbing at and touching you ALL DAY LONG, the last thing you want is to snuggle up to your partner at the end of the day, but a little affection goes a long way.
Showing affection is important for you as a couple to be reminded of why you chose to spend forever with that person and also sets the tone in relationship expectations for those little ones watching (because they are ALWAYS watching).
If they see you hitting your spouse, that becomes the expectation.
If they see your spouse giving you a kiss before leaving and you hugging them often, that also becomes the expectation.
We teach our kids so much, and how to treat others and be treated starts with your spouse and in the home. You love your spouse, so show your children what love and respect should look like!
This is a big one because I think it leads to a lot of misunderstandings. Your partner can’t read your mind (and let’s be honest, do you even want them to, anyway?).
They are also bombarded with daily demands in and out of the home, and a way to give a little grace is to lay out your expectations of them clearly and often.
If you like the kids to eat at this time, tell him.
If they nap at that time, let him know.
If he works out of the home and you are the primary scheduler and caretaker, it’s not his fault that he doesn’t know how “things are typically handled.”
It’s funny, when we had Ava (poor little first-born, or our guinea pig, as we call her) we were really blank slates as parents.
The first time I saw Matt wiping back-to-front when changing her diaper, I wanted to freak and on him and say “What the hell are you doing?! You can’t do that with little girls.” But then it occured to me, how would he know that? He’s a guy, and he doesn’t have any little sisters, so why would he see that as wrong?
So, I told him little girls can’t be wiped that way, without raising my voice or making a fight about it and sure enough, he just didn’t know. (Ava was totally fine, by the way.)
Letting them know schedules, the kids’ activities, and daily routines helps your spouse get in the groove, too. So, if you like things a certain way, just tell them.
I realized as we were writing this that Matt and I could go on for days and days.
I see us writing another edition later as the kids grow and we adapt to their changes, but I hope for now our tips will help you and your spouse become united and strong in your marriage!
Remember, a strong marriage helps create a strong family and in the end, we all want what’s best for our kids!
Do you have any tips or suggestions for keeping your marriage strong while raising kids? Share with us below!
Check out my article on how to date your husband at home!