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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.