There's a common belief that if you are struggling in your marriage, having a baby will bring you together. I want to preface this post by saying that if you feel that your relationship with your spouse is in trouble, having a baby is not the way to fix that. I would urge you to seek counseling and professional help. Any of you who have kids can attest to the fact that your role as parents challenged your marriage in ways you didn't know were possible and that it was definitely not as fairy tale as some people would have you believe.
That being said, I have seen parenthood strengthen my marriage in ways that I wasn't expecting and that is what I wanted to share with you today. Those of you who are in the trenches with newborn babies, young toddlers, lots of little kids, teenagers and even adult children, I know that life can be hard and it can wear on your marriage. I would encourage you to look at these ways that your roles as parents can actually bless and build up your marriage and strive to do what you can to achieve that in your marriage!
Whether you're having your first kid or your sixth, the addition of a new baby to the family is an event that can bring stress to your marriage. I will be the first to tell you that parenthood is one of the most challenging stages to adjust to in your marriage. It will stretch you as a couple and as an individual and at times, it will feel like you've given all that you can possibly give. Even though parenthood can be hard, it is also one of the most exciting and rewarding adventures that you will ever embark on in your marriage. Working together in this new stage of life will also strengthen your relationship and make you a better team in every other area of your marriage.
Love takes on a whole new meaning.
Watching my husband be a dad makes my love for him grow more and more every day. And the love and excitement that our kids have for their daddy only adds to that love. Romance used to be about taking each other out to dinner and long kisses. Now I get butterflies when I hear my husband reading silly books to the kids or teaching them how to play a board game. I still love all of those things that we did when we were dating, engaged and newly married but there's something about watching him be a dad that makes me swoon.
Another growth of love came when I had to lean on my husband while I was sick during my pregnancies and after I gave birth. I learned to depend on Joe for the things that I couldn't do for myself or our family. I'd never had to rely on my husband in that way and his service added a new dimension to the love that I have for him.
Time alone as a couple won't be taken for granted.
Before you become parents, time alone together is something that you get used to, even if your schedules don't allow for a lot of it. When it was just the two of us, we got used to having time together every single day, even if it was just for an hour before bed every night. Now we always have our cute kiddos around, and they need a lot of our attention. A lot of nights we're exhausted from our day of work and parenting and we fall asleep before we've even had time to talk. Other nights we have sick or sad kids to take care of when we would usually be spending time alone. We only get an hour or two alone together each night and we try not to take that time for granted. If you're anything like us, you look forward to those moments when you get to connect as a couple.
Your time together will be more intentional.
Because time together is so rare, you'll find yourself being more intentional with it. There will still be nights when you sit down with a bowl of popcorn and binge watch your favorite show on Netflix together, but now more than ever, you need to put effort into making your marriage a priority. Whether you have an hour at the end of the day together, are out for your weekly date night or enjoying a weekend away without the kids, make the most of your time together. The more intentional you are when you are together, the more your relationship will grow.
I shared with a group of ladies a couple of weeks ago that I wish I could shake newly married me and yell, "Why are you staying home on a Friday night?!?! Go out!!! Have fun!!!" because more often than not, we were home eating takeout and watching Netflix on the weekend, the same activity we did every night. We were not as intentional with our time together as we could have been. Now we make the most of that time, even if we're just relaxing, and look for any opportunity to connect with each other.
You will see your spouse in a new light.
I'd seen my husband interact with kids before, but watching him play and interact with our kids on a daily basis has been a different experience. Both Bensen and Emmy love their daddy and get excited every day when he comes home from work. Days when dad doesn't have to go to work are their favorite because they get lots of play time. They have their own games, inside jokes and cute little rituals. I love overhearing him reading stories to the kids, adding his own little spin. I never knew I could get butterflies from watching my husband read 'That's Not My Princess' with enthusiasm to his daughter.
One of the things that has impressed me the most as Joe has become a father was the way that he teaches our kids about life on a daily basis. He takes the time to explain new concepts and introduce them to things that they've never seen before. When he finds something that really interests them, he gets just as excited as they do and continues to share that enthusiasm every time they bring it up. He always has time for them and pauses what he's doing to respond or help them out.
Adjusting to your new stage in life together can be a challenge, but challenges are meant to make us stronger. Find ways to make your spouse a priority every single day and communicate often about the obstacles that you are facing as a couple. If you work together, the hard times will benefit your marriage as much, if not more, than the good times do. Don't put your relationship on the back burner because a little one comes along or because your kids and their activities are taking up a lot of your time. Continue to work on your marriage relationship so that it will continue to get better!