You know those women who just make motherhood look like pure magic? Chrissy Powers is one of them for us. A licensed marriage and family therapist in San Diego, she writes about all things life, love and parenting with her two boys and surfer husband on We’re pretty stoked about having her share her insights here.

The truth is I love my husband. He’s the man I chose to “do” life with—he’s in the trenches of parenthood with me, he loves my body in all of its various shapes and sizes and he cooks! But every mama knows that the months after childbirth can be hairy, hard to navigate and filled with hormones.

I gave birth to our second son two months ago, and at the end of the day I often feel I have nothing to give my man.

Pathway to a mature and happy marriage online class

It’s funny and ironic that many times during the day I think about how great he is and all that he does for us, yet when he comes home he is the brunt of my frustration and the catcher’s mitt I throw my emotions at. (But don’t feel too bad for him, because I’ve been that catcher’s mitt a few times too.)

The more I think about love and marriage, the more I’m certain that love is not just a feeling—it’s a choice. A choice to continue to act as a team, partners, lovers and parents together.

Related: To my husband: Thank you for showing me a love our child will remember

10 steps to staying happily married with children

I asked some wise friends, interviewed my husband and waded through my own life experiences to bring you the 10 best tips out there.

1. Be loving

two women hugging on the beach - how to stay in love with your spouse
Anna Shvets/Pexels

Greet each other at the end of the day with a smile and a welcoming demeanor.

2. Show gratitude

couple hugging in kitchen rekindling their love

Thank each other for your individual roles and tasks.

Related: To my husband: I might not say it enough, but thank you

3. Do not try to take on their emotions

couple hugging under an umbrella

Accept each other’s emotions as good or bad and do not take them on as your own.

4. Encourage one another

couple looking at laptop on the couch

This one took me a long time to figure out. When your partner is negative, you don’t have to be negative back. Validate the negativity or emotion you see in the other person and try not to let it take you over as well. Remember, emotions come and go.

Related: Watching you be a father makes me fall in love with you all over again

5. Don’t try to one-up each other

couple shopping together at a grocery store

Conversations can turn into a sparring match of whose day was harder, and that’s just not productive. Choose to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and be disciplined enough to think of them before yourself.

6. Don’t beat up on your body in front of your partner

couple taking a mirror selfie with a digital camera

According to my husband, this is extremely unsexy.

7. Partners, tell us we’re beautiful

older couple standing with their heads together outside

If you aren’t telling your woman how gorgeous she is, you should be. Women want to feel captivating, so show her some affection and compliment her mind and body.

8. Make time for one another

couple paddle boarding in the ocean at sunset

In a perfect world, every co-parenting couple would have a date night once a week. But even that can be challenging, so date your spouse at home.

Find a show on Netflix you like to watch together, have a glass of wine or tea together after the kids go to bed. Read the same book or listen to the same podcast that you both can talk about and connect on.

9. Be patient with each other

couple working together at a coffee shop

There has to be room to be human, make mistakes and grow. Ultimately, be committed to growing and changing with your partner.

10. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

This will look different for each relationship, but find out what makes your partner feel respected. Respect in marriage looks a lot like love.

Remember that this is a benchmark to follow and something to strive for in marriage. I don’t have this all down myself. Working on your marriage or relationship is always worth it—everybody, especially your children, will benefit from a healthy, connected family.

A version of this story was originally published on Oct. 15, 2021. It has been updated.