Marriage after kids: Pretty Little Liar’s star on keeping things hot at home

I recently was perusing Instagram when I stumbled on a friend who was getting married. She had been planning a wedding for two years and was obsessed with the idea of being someone’s wife, obsessed with their future life together.

The first thing I thought was ‘wait until you have kids.

I caught myself. How horrible was that thought? Like throwing kids in the mix could nudge your footing off a stable axis? Then I let that sentiment land and I stood by it.

Love is pretty easy, especially in the beginning. Two people allowed to be selfish together, slightly compromising to each other’s needs, bending somewhat to the other person. Two people that stand like two trees—solid, touching, but still independent, still bathed in freedom and spontaneity and energy.


Marriage shouldn’t be monumentally tough.

A post shared by Tammin Sursok (@tamminsursok) on

If you’ve had a pretty solid relationship—the transition to being a spouse should be quite fluid. Then you throw kids into the mix, and it shakes you to your core. (If you are a parent, you know what I’m talking about.)

There is a reason why people say, “no divorcé before age two.” What happens when you bring children into the mix is you have to rearrange yourself. You have to rearrange your relationship—how you visualize the world, how you visualize yourself.

Your new lenses become more vibrant, more childlike but you also become a heck of a lot more susceptible to hairline fractures on your relationship.

Having children becomes a fertile environment for any issue that has not been resolved in your marriage before you had kids. Coupled with the lack of sleep, the unbending consistency and the new emotions that accompany being a first-time parent, the first thing to suffer, if not taken care of, is your marriage. I see it all the time.

First-time-parents—the train is-a-comin’ and your world as you know it will be forever changed.

So how do we support this? How do we evolve our relationship to another level of strength, bonding and compassion? Well, we need to constantly and daily put work and time and energy into our marriages.

1. Make time for just the two of you.

A post shared by Tammin Sursok (@tamminsursok) on

My husband and I have date nights every Friday. Every Friday without fail. Sometimes it’s just Thai takeout in the car, in silence, holding hands, but bonded in something so much greater.

2. Have sex.

A post shared by Tammin Sursok (@tamminsursok) on

When you first get together you do the horizontal tango too many times to count. After you have children, more times than not, the unbending exhaustion will trump sex almost every time. But make it a priority. Sex bonds you together in ways that nothing else can. The attraction is still there, it’s just clouded right now.

3. Keep falling in love.

A post shared by Tammin Sursok (@tamminsursok) on

I heard a quote the other day that was so prescient to me, “to make a marriage work you have to keep falling in love.” This is especially true when you have kids. The little things matter. Make sure you are making a point to think of each other daily.

4. Work on your communication.

A post shared by Tammin Sursok (@tamminsursok) on

It seems a hell of a lot easier, born from frustration to (in the moment) attack each other. In the long run, you are causing cracks in your foundation. Always talk from your perspective. Ask questions like “How does this make you feel”—you’ll develop a stronger relationship by working together, which in turn, will make you better parents.

Don’t get me wrong, having a child was the best thing that has ever happened to me. She is my insides. My beginning and my end. She gave me oxygen and I truly began living the second she came into my world. But with such a monumental life shift, chain reactions will surely happen.

Make sure to be aware that a life-long marriage takes work. Work that will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

This article was originally published on Bottle + Heels.

Join Motherly

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

    Keep reading Show less

    The important safety tip parents need to know about sleep + car seats

    Why you might want to plan for more pit stops on your next road trip.

    When we become parents we don't just have to learn how to take care of a baby, we also have to learn how, when and why to use all the different kinds of baby gear.

    Keep reading Show less