Do I claim to be a relationship expert? Heavens No! Does my spouse and I have issues from time to time? Most certainly, but doesn’t everyone? Those real-life issues do not define us. 2014 was the most amazing year and also the most challenging. We welcomed our first child into this world, and somewhere, somehow within all the commotion and excitement we lost our once strong connection. We aren’t the same people we were before we became parents. We both changed, and sometimes those differences make us feel further apart.
But, just because this connection is lost, does not mean that our marriage is lost. What it means is that marriage is hard. It’s really really hard. What I will also say is that there are some harsh realities about marriage after children. Harsh realities that most couples don’t talk about. Before children, you may have had more time to spend quality time together with your spouse. If you’re like me, that was far and few between, but regardless you were able to have spontaneous dates without having to ship the child off to their grandparents house for the night. Now, everything has to be planned well in advance, and more often than not, the planning part is much harder than just staying at home.
I think one thing that is important to point out is that most couples are keenly aware of these struggles and these realities. What’s important is how these couples chose to handle these struggles. Some couples may walk away and close the door on their marriage stating “irreconcilable differences” while others just chose to fight for their marriage. It’s also important to point out that my marriage to my spouse is fine despite such challenges. We love each other, we understand each other and we are accepting of each other. We knew there would be challenges associated with getting married, and then becoming parents, we knew that working opposite shifts of each other with limited quality time would be hard, but every day we understand and accept these challenges and fight for our marriage. If marriage was EASY, everyone would be doing it.
Here are 7 Things No one Tells You about Marriage (After Children):
More times than none, it’ll cross your mind that this is your life and that the person who is lying next to you in bed is your forever.
There is no doubt that when you got married you believed you had truly found your soul-mate and that you’d be happy forever. There is a common misconception associated with one having the “perfect” marriage, and the reality is that there is no “perfect” marriage. If someone tries to convince you otherwise, they’re lying through their teeth.
There will come a day that you’ll realize that your spouse is unable to make you happy every moment of every day. You may ask yourself “this isn’t what I signed up for”. It occurs to you that your marriage will be tested time and time again on a regular basis. You learn to understand that whatever fantasy of the “perfect” marriage you had envisioned was in actuality just that..a fantasy.
Marriage is not a destination, but rather a journey filled with many ups and downs. When you add kids into the equation, it may be harder to work on the issues at hand because in most cases, we put our children before ourselves and our marriage. One important thing to point out is that your marriage should come first. With a stable marriage, you will be able to raise your children in a collaborative and loving atmosphere without animosity towards your spouse.
Sex is far and few between (At times)
There will be times when you just don’t want to have sex. There are also plenty of times that your spouse won’t want sex. There are several reasons why this is the case including a long day in the office, a long day of errands running children around, trying corral your hyper child all day or because you’re exhausted. So maybe a few days go by when you don’t engage in sex with your partner.
Sexless periods are a very normal part of marriage. It certainly doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your mojo or that you’ll never have sex again. It does mean, however, that maybe for this week, sleep trumps sex. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that you should be having sex several times a week like mainstream media portrays. That’s unrealistic. You may find yourself thinking, “What happened to us? We used to have sex all the time! Maybe my spouse isn’t attracted to me anymore?” Life happened. You welcomed children into your marriage who may constantly barge into your room. You both work hard and work long hours to provide resulting in pure exhaustion. Don’t let the lack of sex define your marriage.
One important thing to point out is that if you’re not having sex, make sure you’re doing other little things to let your spouse know you that there is still a connection. By expressing other means of affection such as kissing, hugging and cuddling can help keep you feeling connected with each other.
Marriage requires hard-work (continuously)
I’m sure you received the common advice of “marriage takes work” before you tied the knot. If you’re like me, you may have assumed that meant being patient with each other. It’s certainly much more difficult than being patient. You and your spouse are both complicated and both annoy the crap out of each other at times. That’s normal! Your husband may be messy or forget to put the toilet seat down whereas you might leave your shoes out and and leave your makeup all over the counter. There are always going to be little things that bother us about our spouse. Get used to it! No one is perfect.
Just because you’re married does not mean you stop trying to date your spouse. I repeat, just because you’re married does not mean you stop dating your spouse. As you both grow and evolve, the real work of your marriage is finding new ways to relate, connect and nurture each other. Also, keep in mind there will always be outside forces trying to break up your marriage or silently cheer to see that your marriage is anything but easy. Give them something to talk about. Let them see that just because marriage is hard, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love each other and want to be together.
When children are added to the mix, it’s even more important to continuously work on your marriage. Show your children how you hope to see them one day with their spouse: supportive, loving, nurturing and fun!
You will go to bed mad (and wake up pissed also!)
Again, we’ve all heard the advice “never go to bed angry!” I laugh at that now, because naively I used to believe in that, but again as I grew in my marriage, I realized that sometimes you do in fact go to bed angry and wake up pissed. I’ve learned that if I fight and try to resolve a fight late at night, that I can become irrational and become more a bitch. Sorry, but the same is true for the man in the relationship. Hands down, we can be jerks to each other when what we should be doing is trying to calm down. We need to take time to gain perspective and just take a break from the situation.
An argument needs to breath. Take a break from the argument and take time to truly determine what you’re truly angry about and then pinpoint that source. Sometimes by taking a break one or both of you will come to realize that the argument was a illegitimate argument and you are able to apologize and re-connect. Other times, one or the other will realize that their bad day in the office came home with them. Whatever the situation, it’s important to address the issues, but sometimes that means taking a time-out from it to truly analyze it. Without that time-out, some arguments can turn into an endless round of unnecessary back and forth lashing out at each other, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions from previous disagreements and/or situations and oftentimes more hurt can come out of the argument.
These disagreements can have evolved around your parenting styles and in those instances you need to discuss your parenting techniques so that you maintain similar techniques when parenting your children. This doesn’t mean you have to agree wholeheartedly with their parenting styles, but it does however mean that compromises will be made on both sides.
To summarize, there will be disagreements in a marriage. What’s important to understand is that our children are picking up on everything we do. They observe, gather and store information, daily. If we show them that arguments without resolution is the norm, then they will grow up knowing just that. If we show them that arguments are unavoidable but solutions can be found, then they’ll grow up knowing that. Always, keep that in mind. Our children are sponges to our interactions. Don’t let the fact that you have children, keep you from resolving disagreements. Your children can pick up on your animosity you may have towards your spouse.
Compromise (both of you)
It’s important to understand that getting your way is typically not as important as finding ways to work together in a marriage or when parenting. There will be times when you’re wrong, and then there will be times when your spouse is wrong. Deal with it.
When it comes to certain arguments, there might be no right or wrong, it’s simply your way of seeing things and your husbands. Overtime, I believe we learn to understand our spouses’s viewpoints on certain things. I have also found that once I become more open to hearing his point of view, the more willing he is to hear mine.
When you add children into marriage, compromises must be made each and every day. Who is going to get up when you’re little one is struggling to sleep? Who is going to grab the sick child from daycare which results in one of you having to leave the office? Ultimately one of you will have to compromise. One will lose more sleep one night or one may have to leave work early, but what’s important is that each spouse is proactively compromising. If one spouse is consistently giving up something, then the other spouse has every reason to be upset. It’s when you’re both willing to give up something for your spouse or for your child that your realize how valuable compromising is when making your marriage work.
Insecurities and Fear
There is no doubt that most married couples experience insecurities or trust issues. I’ll be the first to admit that I have both. My husband and I work opposite shifts and rarely see each other, so that along creates those fears and insecurities. Maybe he will get exhausted by not seeing me or maybe he will find someone else to fill the gap. I think it’s important to realize that I’m not the only person to have had such thoughts. It’s normal, ya’ll! I’m sure my spouse has the same fears and insecurities.
Every marriage and couple has had or are constantly working through some of these insecurities and fears. In my opinion, those couples are have such feelings are those couples who truly love their spouse and are in their marriage for the long run. For those couples who fight for their marriage, those are the ones who last. It’s important to talk to your spouse about such fears and insecurities because talking about them helps to sort them out and potentially clear up any of those fears.
Never forget where your marriage came from. In all of the craziness of life, it’s important to remember why you fell in love with your spouse in the first place. You married them understanding their flaws, their fears and their insecurities. Don’t let “life” suddenly make you not able to deal with those things. That’s not fair for your spouse. They haven’t changed. Your understanding of who he is has.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to understand that you should always be dating your spouse. Do random things for your spouse to remind them how much they mean to you. Hug, kiss and be affectionate towards them. Understand their love language. For more information on understanding your spouses love language, check out the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
It’s so important for your children to see passion in a marriage. Like I mentioned, your children are sponges. They will interact with others based on how they see you interact. Show them what love is. Show them what fighting for marriage is. Show them that they’re an added value of marriage, not a burden. Adding children into a marriage is a blessing, not a curse. Show them what passion is.
That’s one of the strange and beautiful things about marriage. It’s full of hard times, lessons and fears, but also full of many wonderful things as well. Those things all combine to give us a certain contentment and richness in life. Your love is deeper and stronger. I think if you have a better understanding of these realities, you’re able to reconnect and build on that connection. If you’re determined to let these harsh realities define your marriage, then your marriage simply won’t last.
Fight like hell for your marriage every day. Lose those negative influences or people in your life. Don’t let other’s negative thoughts or experience, in regards to marriage or parenting, influence your thoughts on your spouse and marriage. Understand that adding children into your marriage has only made it more interesting, not burdensome.
Credits: Oh Snap! Photography by Lia!