Recently a childless friend asked me, “Does having kids change things in your relationship?” Ummm, that would be a resounding “YES.” I think back to when we didn’t have our two littlest ones and our lives were so much more carefree. We could drop everything and meet for happy hour after work or stay out too late and it didn’t matter. Whenever I drive past our first apartment together, I get a little nostalgic and miss that life we used to have. Things forever change once you have babies, and you’ll never get those free, invigorating years back.
Marriage is hard work without kids, so then you add a few into the mix and it’s like trying to talk to each other with a static-blaring television turned up at full blast next to your faces. Well, let me clarify – having a toddler is like this. To me, the baby stage is blissful in comparison. The sleep part (lack thereof) is hard, of course, and the constant guessing game of what’s wrong (is it teeth? colic? are they too hot? too cold?) can be unnerving at times. But I’ll take that stage over the whining and constant testing of the toddler years. Trying to connect with each other while kids interrupt or need your attention is no easy feat.
Last year I attended the baby shower of a good friend and it came to the point of the party where experienced parents give the mom-to-be words of advice about what’s to come. The one that stood out the most to me was from an older mother who said, “Always remember this – what’s good for the marriage is good for the children.” I couldn’t stop thinking of that bit of wisdom the rest of the day. I had a brand new baby at the time and was apprehensive of leaving him so soon for date nights. We hadn’t had tons of luck in the babysitter department, but we actually had a new one booked for that very evening. With that word of advice about marriage soaking in my head, I was able to really just let go and have fun on our night out without worrying about the kids. It felt like we were that childless couple again from years ago, even if just for a few hours.
Since then, we’ve made date night a priority, going out regularly every week or two. Having this connection time with my husband is now a sacred part of our marriage. I’m grateful we figured out a way to better care for ‘us’ which I know, in turn, is absolutely good for our children.