By Keren Kanyago, Crosswalk.com
1. Spouses May Shift from Lovers to Parents
Before we had kids, my husband and I would spend most of our evenings snuggled on the couch either watching a show or merely chatting and giggling. Enter our first baby and the cozy nights were brought to a grinding halt.
We now spent the evenings huffing and puffing as we changed diapers, fed the baby, bathed her, lulled her to sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat. In the long run, it felt like we were no longer lovers but full-fledged parents.
Relationship experts say that couples tend to drift apart after siring children. They become more business-like with each other. They are, after all, in the very important business of raising kids. Their once sizzling love relationship morphs into a partnership. Quite tragic for romance, we must admit.
2. Sex May Be Stashed in the Back Burner
Let’s be honest, a wailing, famished infant doesn’t quite set the mood for a steamy night with your spouse. For starters, the new mother may be battling a myriad of issues like post-partum blues, lack of sleep, physical pain, body insecurities, and hormonal imbalance, among others.
The new dad may also be grappling with fatigue, added responsibilities, and a boatload of anxiety. With so many forces seemingly conspiring against a vibrant sex life, many couples, unfortunately, relegate sex to the back burner.
3. You May Argue More
Our first "parenting-related” argument was set off the very same day we brought our baby home from the hospital. My husband graciously offered to bath her, much to my horror. I (regrettably) felt that I couldn’t trust him to wash “my” baby. Wasn’t I the one who carried her for a whopping nine months? Wasn’t I the one endowed with maternal instincts?
So I trailed him to the nursery just to make sure he was doing the right thing. I kept poking holes into how he was washing the baby, opining that he was not careful enough. This ticked him off and we got embroiled in a heated argument. Needless to say, the baby was squeaky clean and happy after the bath. She slipped into the land of nod even before we had wound up our tiff.
Here’s the thing, each of you wants the best for your kids. But your preferred way of parenting may differ from your spouse’s like chalk and cheese. One of you may be raring to sleep train the child while the other may find the idea gut-wrenching. With a plethora of parenting decisions to make, parents tend to bump heads a little more than before.
4. You May Experience Higher Stress Levels
Regardless of your parenting stage, whether your child is an infant, toddler, preschooler, school goer, or teenager, you are bound to contend with higher stress levels than before. Parenting signs you up for more responsibilities which leads to heightened levels of stress not only in your personal life but in your marriage too.
This is because although raising children is a very fulfilling venture, it is not all rainbows and unicorns. You have a flurry of responsibilities nipping at your heels. You have to ensure your kids are safe and protected, provided for, disciplined, given a decent education and healthcare, and loved, among many other responsibilities.
5. You May Feel Resentful Towards Your Spouse
Before you had kids, your worlds revolved around each other. You fueled the flame in your marriage through date nights, lunch dates, lazy evening walks, movies, road trips, picnics, and other sizzling activities.
But now you have one or more little humans who depend on you for everything. You love them to bits alright, but caring for them has taken a toll on your marriage. When this happens, spouses often start feeling resentful towards each other.
The wife may, for instance, become preoccupied with tending to the kids. This may make the husband feel ignored and he may resort to immersing himself deeper in his work. This drives a wedge into the relationship and breeds resentment.
6. “Me-Time” Goes out the Window
Let’s be honest, we all need some time away from our spouses to recharge and recuperate. Studies show that taking time off alone fuels couples’ fulfillment and relieves stress. When spouses take time to sit with their thoughts and revel in something they love (alone) they show up for the marriage with a spring in their step. “Me-time” also helps ignite creativity.
Some alone time ideas for women include taking a hot bath, reading, getting a manicure/pedicure, massage, working out, and meditating. Guys too need to crawl into their caves once in a while. They may indulge in activities such as playing or watching a sport, taking a long drive, reading, and catching up with the boys.
When kids grace your marriage, you have oodles of responsibilities in a cutthroat competition for your time. This is especially true when the kids are young. You barely have time to vacuum the carpet, let alone pore over your favorite book.
Having little to no time to revel in the things that perk you up can negatively impact your marriage. You may become grumpy and be unable to be the happy-go-lucky girl or dude your partner once knew.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/grinvalds
7. You May Feel Like You Love Your Kids More than Your Spouse
Kids are super easy to love. Although it is often exhausting tending to them, they pay you back handsomely. A coo or gummy smile from your infant may help dissipate your worries in a magical instant.
As your kids grow older, the cuddles, hugs, and kisses get you hooked. Even when they err and you discipline them, they still turn to you for comfort. Loving your spouse on the other hand may sometimes feel like climbing Mount Everest.
That’s because disagreements will often creep up on you in marriage. You have to choose to forgive your spouse over and over. If you are not careful, you may end up feeling more endeared by your kids than your partner.
Of course, this ought not to be the case. Parents need to remember that kids are a byproduct of their union and not the sole reason they got together. Besides, if you want to raise happy kids, start by loving your partner fiercely.
Studies show that kids who grow up watching their parents’ love bloom grow up feeling happy, contented, and secure.
8. Having Kids May Fortify Your Marriage
For some couples, having kids is the frosting on the cake where marriage is concerned. It fortifies their commitment to their spouse. They will move heaven and earth to make the marriage work so that the family unit can thrive.
9. You May Experience Greater Fulfillment in Life
Raising kids alongside your best friend (read spouse) is a dream come true for many people. The joy of watching your kids say their first words, take their first rickety steps, scoot off to school, toss their graduation caps in the air, walk down the aisle, among many other milestones is unrivaled.
All the sleepless nights, physical exhaustion, tears, worries, financial struggles, and sacrifices pale in comparison to the joy and fulfillment that kids inject into a marriage.
10. You May Become a Better Person
Raising kids is no mean feat. You and your mate are wholly responsible for the lives of other (seemingly helpless) human beings. You have to do all it takes to ensure they become responsible members of society. Salt-of-the-earth type of kids.
With this sobering obligation hanging over your heads, it’s often not business as usual. Most people inadvertently start cleaning up their lives when they become parents. They weed off lousy habits and embrace healthy ones. You may, for instance, find yourself letting go of procrastination, being able to forgive easily, exuding patience, being more resilient, among other glossy attributes.
In the long run, you and your spouse may be enthused to note that you morphed into better individuals after having kids.
It's an undeniable truth that children reshape a marriage. Both the sleepless nights and wholehearted joy they bring to the family unit shift day-to-day dynamics. But, it's up to each partner, man and wife, father and mother, to remember that parenting a child is a team effort that requires encouragement, love, and forgiveness towards one another. Parenthood isn't the end of romance. Instead, it's a new phase of love that forges deeper, richer bonds. Just as God made spouses "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24), He brings children into the picture to create one family unit which He calls to deeply love each other and passionately serve others for the glory of God.
Take some time today to thank your spouse for not only loving you but loving your family and showing up where it matters most.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/evgenyatamanenko