I'm really excited to have Rebekah on the blog today! She's become one of my good friends in the blogging community over the past while and I'm glad that we decided to swap blogs today! She has some great thoughts to share and after you're done reading her post, you can head over to her blog to read mine.
When I was first married someone told me that once my husband and I had children we wouldn’t be as close to one another because our kids would be more important than our marriage. I thought this was a weird thing to say to a newly married couple, but I put it out of my head until after we had children.
After the birth of my son, two years ago, I remembered what that person had said to us and I really thought about if it was true and I realized our children have changed our marriage but not always in the ways that I thought they would.
You can become a stronger team
The first few weeks with a newborn are exhausting and will wear you and your spouse out. In this time of pure exhaustion, you have two options: you can give in and snap at your spouse because you can’t take the crying, or you can come together and have each other’s backs.
When my son was born my husband and I grew closer together. We took turns feeding our son and tried to keep the responsibilities of raising our son shared. When we did this I could feel our marriage getting stronger. I remember saying to my husband that having a baby had brought us closer together.
However, since the birth of our daughter, six weeks ago, we’ve let the sleep deprivation get to us and we’ve lost our patience and have been short with each other. Every time this happens I can see that instead of being a strong team with my husband I start to fight against him. Instead of feeling like I have a partner I isolate myself and have to struggle on my own.
Working together is, obviously, a much better option than trying to parent on your own. Having someone to turn to when things get to tough to handle on your own is the best part of being married. It’s so critical to remember when you’re facing challenges.
Your attention is diverted from your marriage
As your children enter different stages of life it takes a different kind of toll on your marriage. The newborn days have their challenges, as I mentioned, but as your baby grows up his or her needs change and present new challenges.
When my son was just a baby, I still held most of my husband’s attention. The baby would sleep most of the day and when he was awake it was for a short time, so that time was devoted to adoring him, and the rest of the time was reserved for my husband and me.
Once our son started to enter toddlerhood, and wasn’t sleeping all the time I noticed a change in how much attention I received from my husband. Instead of being the first person he greeted when he walked in the front door, it became our son. Benson would run to his dad and then after they had their moment, my husband would come find me to say hello. For the most part this was fine, but after a while I started to feel less important. I felt like I was taking the back seat to our son. This wasn’t necessarily true, but I had lost that attention I needed and it started to make me unhappy.
In order to change this we constantly have to make an effort, on both of our parts, to put each other first. My husband knows that I need attention when he gets home and is quicker to come find me and I make an effort to go greet him when he gets homes instead of staying in the kitchen cooking or finishing up the show I’m watching. By doing this we both get the time together we need and we are both making an effort to put each other first.
Your ability to love increases
When you’re newly married you learn how to love one person completely, but after you have children you learn what absolute, unconditional love is. The best part of learning to love unconditionally is that it doesn't just apply to your children; you learn how to love your spouse that way too.
I’m definitely still learning to love my husband unconditionally, but I’ve seen myself take steps towards it. My favorite example of this happened just this last weekend. My husband and I had been really short with each other and it got to the point where anything either one of us said was taken offensively. After an awkward hour of barely speaking to each other we both apologized.
During that hour of not speaking to him I had built things up in my head so that they weren’t my fault. But I slowly realized that I didn’t care who was at fault; I just wanted my husband back. That unconditional love shows itself as forgiveness, even when no one has apologized.
Marriage is hard and adding children to the mix means different things for every one. I know that having children changes marriages, but it doesn’t have to change them negatively. Take those changes head on and make them work for your marriage.