This post was originally published on A Prioritized Marriage in September 2015.
I recently had a few people ask me what routines and habits they should have in place to protect the state of their marriage after a baby comes along. Although I originally wrote this post with the intent of couples putting these traditions in place after baby comes along, having them in place before will help them come more naturally and keep going after you become parents. This post has been updated and republished for your benefit.
Becoming parents changes a marriage, there's no doubt about that, but your new role doesn't make your marriage any less important. You've been partners in life since you decided to get married, and the birth of a child just extends that partnership to include parenting. It's important to keep your marriage strong, not only for the health of your relationship with each other, but to help you be a strong parenting team and provide a strong foundation for your growing family.
Rituals for New Parents to Keep Their Marriage Strong
Have a nightly wind down ritual
Whether one or both of you are working after the baby is born, chances are, your nights are a flurry of dinner, playing with the baby, cleaning up the house, feeding and bathing the baby, and then putting them to bed. If your life is anything like ours, you are physically and mentally exhausted by 8 or 9 every night. Find something to do as a couple each night to help you wind down. Share a before bedtime snack together, play a card or board game, work on a puzzle, sit in your yard and enjoy some fresh air, or watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show. You'll have something to look forward to every night as well as some time to reconnect.
Sit Down at the Dinner Table Together Daily
Your schedules may not allow you to sit down around the kitchen table together for a regular meal every single day, and that's ok. Enjoy a bowl of ice cream, a cup of hot chocolate, dinner, lunch, breakfast, etc. every day, unplugged, and have meaningful conversation while you do it.
Laugh together every day
Parenthood is fun but can be stressful and sometimes frustrating. Laughter helps keep things light and brings happiness back into your home. We find a lot of entertainment when we play with the baby together, he's quite the character and has a lot of personality. We also find a lot of things to laugh about together on YouTube, we watch comedy movies and TV shows on Netflix, and we share funny moments from our day. Find humor in situations when you can and try not to take life so seriously.
Continue having regular date nights
Whenever I talk to couples with kids, the one thing I hear most often from them is that they never get to have date night any more because they don't have family nearby, don't have time with their family activities, or can't afford to pay a babysitter and go on a date. I always encourage them to find a way to have date night, even if it's after the kids are in bed! I've had people tell me that they'll get pizza and turn on a movie for their kids while they eat takeout or prepare a meal together in the other room. Earlier this year, I shared how to have a successful date night with kids and I've blogged quite a few date nights since then where we involved our baby boy. One of my favorite date nights we went on recently with the baby was to the drive-in movies. We've also found date night in a box companies to be really great for planning date night on our baby's schedule!
Continue your marriage traditions
What traditions have you already started in your marriage? Because of Joe's work schedule, we started a tradition the first Christmas that we were married and opened our gifts to each other at midnight. We've continued the tradition and I plan to continue it in the future. This way, we can exchange our gifts and enjoy that time together, apart from the fun and chaos of Christmas morning. This will also help us focus on our kids and family time Christmas day, and the meaningful gifts that we got for each other won't be overlooked.
Find rituals that will help build a stronger relationship and help you make your marriage a priority every day. Your kids are watching, and the best thing that you can do for them is have a happy marriage and be an example to them of what a healthy relationship should look like!
Share this post with someone in your life who is expecting their first baby and then leave a comment below sharing a ritual that you brought into your marriage after your first baby arrived, or one that you plan to put in place when kids enter your lives in the future!