I’m sure by the time you move towards the end of your pregnancy, you’ve had every second person tell you that things are going to change after your baby arrives. And they do so in that kind of ‘know all’ cheeky tone. Like it didn’t occur to you that everything was going to be different. I’m sure they mean well.
They tend to mention the obvious things that change, but there were some ways my marriage changed after having a baby that I didn’t really think about. I mean, of course, my husband and I had less time together, we were tired and a little frustrated at times and we spent a whole lot of time just watching our baby – but there were some more subtle and unexpected changes too.
These changes don’t only happen after your first baby, they can happy with baby number two (and probably three and four but I haven’t had that many children so I’m just assuming). When there’s any change in your life, it’s likely your relationship will change and adapt too. And it can be surprising and exciting each and every time.
Here are the biggest ways my marriage changed after having a baby:
1 – My Love Grew
I know everyone keeps saying that when you have children, particularly after your first child, that your love grows but I couldn’t fathom how I could possibly love any more than I already did. But it happened. Not right away for me, it wasn’t like one moment my love levels just exploded, but it was a gradual stretch and flex of my love and before I knew it, there was just more.
I would look at my little family and literally feel the love I had for them expanding in my chest, there was no happiness quite like it.
2 – I Found My Husband Attractive In Different Ways
My husband is a very good looking man, he still gives me butterflies when I look at him and I have to admit, I still perve every chance I get. But I started finding him attractive in different ways. The way he looked at our daughter while she slept, the way he teaches our son how to do things, the way he takes his role as a father so seriously – I love it.
I also found that he loved me in different ways too. Instead of being self-conscious about how soft my tummy was after having a baby, he made me feel loved and perfect and like my ‘softness’ was an attractive feature and even better for our baby to cuddle into.
3 – We Had To Get Creative In How We Spent Time Together
Long gone were date nights and long lunches taking time together whenever we wanted, but it didn’t mean we couldn’t spend any time alone at all. It’s all about making time together a priority and setting realistic expectation.
While we weren’t able to go out for dinner and the movies, we were able to cook a fancy meal at home and rent a movie online. The value is in the time we spend together, with limited distractions.
We also make sure we connect with each other on a daily basis, whether it’s a longer hug when we get the chance, a chat on the phone if one of us is working or simply holding hands when we are together. Checking in and connecting is the best reminder that you’re not going through all of this alone.
4 – We Found More Value In Spending Time Alone
Just like spending time together is important, it is also important to spend time alone and recharge our own batteries. There’s something really rejuvenating about being able to sit in your favourite chair, in your house that is totally quiet and drink a coffee while it is still hot.
Send your husband out with your kids, even if it’s just for a walk for an hour. Or head out by yourself to your favourite cafe and sit and read a magazine alone (and eat cake too!!). Alone time is so good and if you make it a priority, you will make it happen.
5 – We Had To Communicate Better And Listen More
Let’s face it, you’re going to be tired. And not just ‘I had a rough night’s sleep tired’, but the kind of tired you can feel in your bones. The good thing is, it won’t last forever, but what happens when we are tired is that we start to shut down to conserve energy. We don’t talk as much, we don’t listen as much, we get by on what we need to in order to get through.
But that just doesn’t work for an extended period of time. So we had to learn how to communicate better, and learn how to listen more.
I had to learn how to actually ask for help – that was a big deal for me. I’m more of a ‘do it all myself’ kind of person so learning how to ask for help was a big hurdle. I also had to learn how to listen to what my husband was saying more, especially when he was offering help, or when he was giving me cues that he was needing something.
Plus, the very basics of sitting down and having a conversation with each other, without distractions can be so easily overlooked. Make time for it.
6 – We Had To Be More Forgiving
I don’t mean to get snappy at 2am, but I do. And my husband doesn’t mean to be short and moody before his coffee, but he is. You’re adjusting to having a new little babe in your life and it can take some time to get used to and take some time to settle in.
Instead of reacting in a harsh way whenever my husband would do something I felt was offensive, I’d just stop and ask myself ‘what were his intentions’. Because really, that’s the telling thing. If his intentions are to make me feel crap, then, of course, I’m going to be offended. But that was never the case. So you have to be forgiving of each other’s mishaps.
No one is going to be perfect at this, but you get to work through your new life together.
7 – We Had To Work Harder As A Team
I’ve always said that a relationship is never 50/50, it’s always 70/30 or 40/60. There will always be times when one person needs more and times when one person can give more. That’s the natural flow of a relationship and of our needs in life. This is especially evident after having a baby, when you realise that teamwork takes on a whole different meaning.
We now had this small human who relied on us for everything in life, literally every single thing. And while we have always been good at working together (literally, we have worked together for almost 9 years now) doing so as parents was totally different.
It meant we had to be on the same page, we had to talk more and we had to be even more kind to each other. And in true team style, we had to build each other up and take the pressure off each other when we could.
8 – We Had To Let Some Things Go
There are some things that just happen so seamlessly before you have kids, because you only have yourself and your husband to account for. But when kids come along, there are some things that either fall by the wayside, or that you readjust to your new life.
We have always gone to the same theatre restaurant for our anniversary, then last year our little girl was 4 weeks old for our anniversary – making it unreasonable for us to travel the 3 hours and stay away for the night simply to go to the same place. So we went 4 weeks before our baby was due. We adjusted.
However, there have been plenty of things we’ve had to let go, including sleep-ins, quiet mornings, drinking coffee while it’s still hot, full-time work (both of us working shift work and on call just didn’t work with kids at home) and frequent alone time. We choose what we let go, and we adjust for what we want to make work.
9 – We Had To Keep Choosing Each Other
I can totally understand how marriages fall apart after kids come along. It’s hard work and your life is dedicated to your children. They can take up every aspect of your life, fill every hour of your day and consume you completely. We realised very early that we would have to keep choosing each other over and over again to make our marriage work.
I put my husband first because in doing so, I can put our family first and together we care for our children. We need to nurture our relationship and our marriage to not only set a great example for our kids, but because when the kids are all grown up and leave, there still needs to be a marriage left between us.
It means that we have had to choose to have conversations, even though we are totally exhausted. It means that we have had to choose to go on date nights, even though we don’t want to leave the house. It means that we have had to choose to cuddle longer, hold hands, literally look at each other, even when there is chaos all around us. But in doing so, I know I have someone in my corner, someone who is in this with me, who sees me and who loves me just the way I am.
Marriage after kids isn’t difficult like you might think it will be, and life after kids isn’t as depriving as it sounds. There is more love than you could ever imagine and a lot of the things that changed are actually easier than you’d think. It just takes a little effort in the right areas and a whole lot of love.