We’ve all been there. As married couples, one of THE toughest things you’ll ever go through is to add tiny humans into the already complex world of co-existing with your spouse. For some reason, we seem to try and hide this fact. No one wants to admit that having kids affects their marriage in any sort of negative manner. But here’s the COLD. HARD. FACTS. It does!!!!
Now we aren’t saying that every aspect of your marriage will be negatively affected. We aren’t saying that you’ll be sucked into a world of constant arguments or impending divorce. But in some way, learning how to raise these miniature people WILL cause some friction. So now the question is, what in the world do we do about it? Obviously raising kids is a pretty long term thing. Things aren’t going to just magically get better and you have to learn how to deal, but HOW?
Here’s some pretty practical ideas that we’ve put into action in our own marriages to try and get us past the parenting conundrum:
First off, and this sounds easier than it is, but it’s really helpful, ASSUME THE BEST IN YOUR SPOUSE. Your significant other married you for a reason. And I can almost guarantee that reason was not to try and make you miserable or tick you off for eternity. Now at 3AM when the newborn is crying again and you are trying to nurse the baby and you ask your husband to do something and he does it completely wrong….in THAT moment, it is so hard to believe that he is on your team. You immediately want to jump to the accusations of him just always making your life harder, and he doesn’t appreciate all you do, etc etc. And woah nelly, just scale it back for a second Hormonal Harriet and look at the big picture. This is all hard on both of you and when you put your spouse on the opposing team in your brain instead of as your teammate, you’ve automatically set yourself up to fail. Assume that even in their worst moments, even when they screw up, even when it seems like they don’t care, they really are trying their best and they really do love and want to help you. Fighting together is always better than fighting against each other.
Secondly, that super cliche marital advice that everyone gives but all of us still struggle with, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE! I truly believe that you cannot overly communicate when it comes to parenting and marriage. Most, if not all, of mine and my husband’s arguments stem off of communication issues. Maybe I assumed he knew about an event we were supposed to attend, but he didn’t, and now I’m frustrated. Maybe I needed help getting the kids ready, but instead of saying something, I just stew in anger at him not realizing my need for help. Maybe I’m feeling under appreciated or overlooked because of our busy lives and I don’t say anything and instead just continue living in bitterness and sadness. All of these things could probably get solved if I would just do that one simple action of opening my mouth and saying what I need or feel. If there’s anything marriage has taught me, it is that my husband is not a magician, he cannot read minds, and I need to quit thinking he’s going to develop that skill any day now. He’s human and flawed. I’m also human and flawed. We’re going to mess up or fall short. But if we can communicate with our spouses when something is bothering us or if we need help, we could save ourselves SO much heartache in the long run. Don’t be afraid to say what it is you need!
Another big thing to remember when navigating parenting and marriage is this: TAKE TIME TO BE MARRIED! Your relationship with your spouse is what you make it and it is THE most important relationship in your life besides God. If it falls by the wayside to the kids schedules and daily activities, one day you’re going to wake up to a stranger in your bed. You’ve got to take time as husband and wife to talk, laugh, cry, date, be intimate, be silly, etc. I truly believe all spouses should make use of at least a monthly date night, if not even more frequent than that. I know this sounds like a fantasy land of sorts when you have young kids, but you can make it happen I swear! Your relationship with your husband or wife has got to take priority over your kids sometimes. Not to say that you should ignore your child, but make sure your spouse knows that your kids have not replaced them in importance! It could be a date night in where you put the kids to bed a little early and have dinner just the 2 of you and talk. It could be paying for a sitter for just a couple hours to go walk around a park and grab coffee. You don’t have to go on big, elaborate date nights to connect with your spouse, but do make the time to connect in some way! See if your local church or YMCA has a parent’s night out available. Or ask around for names of great babysitters and make use of them! What you put time and effort into is what will flourish, and we want healthy and flourishing marriages!
Lastly, and most importantly, PRAY! Pray for your spouse, pray for your marriage. Ask God to show you how to be a better wife or husband. Ask God to give you creative ideas of how to love better in this season. Ask God to show you times where you can get alone with your spouse and reconnect. If you’re struggling, reach out to a close and trusted friend and communicate to them where you’re at and ask them to pray as well. Parenting might throw a curveball in your marriage, but it doesn’t mean it has to completely derail you forever. You can be a great mom AND a great wife. And realize this season won’t last forever. Your littles will only be littles for so long, so embrace this season and make the absolute best of it that you can. And trust God to help you through this. He wants to see your marriage thrive and succeed and will come alongside you when you’re weary and give you strength to keep going.