Marriage after kids is hard and can leave you feeling disconnected from your spouse. If you’re lacking intimacy find out how you can regain your connection!
The clean laundry covered the entire couch where hubby and I planned to chill after the kids went to bed.
Unfortunately, two of said kids sat at the table nearby, chomping loudly on their bedtime snack of dry cereal. I scooped up the third child, who wailed at the interruption to her laps around the table.
As I headed upstairs with the baby, I heard a crash, a shriek from a kid, and a groan from Dad as a cup of milk splashed across the table onto the floor.
I glance at my watch, wondering silently, “We’ll see if we get any chill time or if we spend the whole evening wrangling kids and folding laundry.”
Marriage After Kids Takes A Toll
I knew marriage would have its challenges, but I never realized how difficult it could get after adding another human being to the equation. Especially a small demanding human (or three) who requires constant care and attention.
After having kids, marriage can start to feel like the old couch that’s taken a beating and is on its last legs: It’s not too comfortable, it doesn’t look good, and it’s killing your “beautiful happy home” vibe.
Hubby and I definitely ran into some challenges after having kids, and we lost intimacy in (at least) four ways. (Don’t worry– this is not just a complaining post— I’ll give you some hope at the end of the article!).
1- We were too tired for intentional togetherness.
We were too tired to sit and talk so we’d veg on the TV. We were “sleep hungover” from getting up in the middle of the night with one child or another (they took turns) so we sat like zombies. Even when it got late, we were too exhausted to get off the couch so we’d sit there scrolling through Facebook way past bedtime.
Life with the kids zapped every last percent of battery life out of our weary bodies.
2- We disagreed over parenting decisions which left unpleasant feelings.
It’s sad, but the first child is truly the guinea pig. Poor things. We parents are operating by trial and error until something clicks.
Sure, there’s books, podcasts, sermons, and prayer. But after all that, you just parent until it works.
And in the beginning we often disagreed on how to handle the kids. Or we didn’t like what the other person did. I was “too soft,” he was “too harsh.” (In reality, it was the beginnings of riding together on that tricky line between the two).
You’ll never agree with every single way your spouse wants to discipline your kids. But even a small disagreement can leave feelings of negativity toward the other, which detracts from intimacy.
3- We were so busy balancing marriage and family we struggled to find time for the marriage part.
The spontaneous happy hour dinners at the marina bar. Staying at friends’ houses into the evening past 7:00pm. Taking little getaways, just the two of us.
Now if we want to do those things, we need to get a babysitter. That’s not cheap. Sometimes the grandparents will watch the kids, but even that has been hard due to the Navy stationing us on opposite coasts from our families.
4- We (occasionally) lost space in our bed.
We are not co-sleepers and have always put our babies down in a pack n play next to the bed (except for the few times I’ve fallen asleep nursing in the middle of the night). But even being next to the bed, during that newborn time we’d be sneaking around our room in the dark.
So much for pillow talk. Oh, and there’s that tiredness thing I mentioned.
The kids would end up in our bed if they were super sick and couldn’t sleep without us, or sometimes one will crawl in bed with us after 6am and we let her stay.
But still, even as a non-co-sleeping family, we feel like our bed is not our own at times. So we lose out on cuddle time, chatting or staying up late dreaming about our future.
I can’t imagine how much intimacy is lost with a family who shares a bed. To me, keeping mom and dad’s bed a sacred space is something important that we try hard to do. There are always exceptions but sharing space does take a toll on the marriage relationship.
How We Regained Intimacy In Our Relationship
So yeah, we encountered a few relationship problems after having a baby and then adding two more kids after that. No big deal (sarcasm). However, the challenges also provided us with opportunities to deepen our intimacy by choosing to work through them.
And we have to work through them all the time, because kids are 24-7. Here are some of the ways we have grown closer in our marriage after kids:
- After many nights and mornings of moaning, “we have to get to bed earlier” we started to actually do it. The struggle is real with this but the better we do at getting rest, the better we feel and the more energy we have for each other. Starting early with sleep training helped us tremendously too!
- Hubby and I have talked, read, and prayed over and over and over about how to raise each kid. We constantly encounter new issues we need to deal with and our goal is to keep learning and growing.
- Date nights! We try to take one usually about every other week. We have used babysitter sites like Sittercity.com to find care in each of the new cities we’ve moved to. It’s important to us to hang out together, so we make it a priority even if it’s just at home after the kids are in bed.
- We TRY as hard as possible to keep the kids out of our bed. If they come into our room in the middle of the night, we take them back to bed. Once 6am rolls around it’s practically time to get up anyway, so we are more lax then.
It’s hard, but we choose to use our struggles and challenges as ways to grow together. Like a tree growing deeper roots during dry weather, our marriage is growing deeper roots through the trying seasons of child-rearing.
The intimacy in our marriage after kids wasn’t lost forever.
Some of the fun things we used to do seem lost for now. But we kinda like each other, and we want it to stay that way forever so we are finding new fun things to do and new ways to create closeness.
Here’s a fact: the kids (even though they small demanding humans requiring constant care and attention) are worth having AND the marriage is worth investing in.
Marriage after kids is just a new phase of marriage. It’s not a death sentence to your relationship unless you allow it to become that. Life with kids can be what takes your marriage to the next level of intimacy.
A level that wouldn’t have been possible without them.