One of my biggest worries about having children was the effect they’d have on our marriage. Obviously the amount of time a couple can dedicate to each other diminishes somewhat when they're suddenly tasked with keeping a baby alive, fed and mostly happy every hour of the day (and night.) When we had our first child almost seven years ago lots of things changed, including our marriage. Luckily, our marriage has changed for the better, and here are just a few of the ways:
1. We had to stop throwing shoes at each other.
I’ll never forget that one argument we had in our first year of marriage. I have no idea what we were fighting about but something he said made my blood boil. I wanted to throw something at him, but the only thing near me was a tennis shoe of his. So I chucked that at his head. Lucky for him, I’m a pretty lousy shot, so it wasn’t anywhere near his head. Plus, he had the nerve to catch it, which only made me more angry. Shoe-throwing incidents didn’t happen very often in our house to begin with, but once we had children it never happened again. Now that I've spent years of my life around cranky babies and whining toddlers, I find it easier to identify childish behavior in myself. So, no more throwing shoes at my loved ones. #adulting
2. We have to make gigantic decisions together.
Having tiny and helpless little people in our care forces us to come to agreement on some heavy topics. What school they will attend, extracurriculars, and even the brand of diapers that we buy (or whether we use cloth) are all topics that we’ve had to find middle ground on. We have to talk through difficult things and compromise and find solutions we are both happy with because these are our children! We are both equally passionate about their well-being and how they are raised.
To watch him take initiative as a father only makes me love him more.
3. There’s nothing more attractive than a man who changes a dirty diaper without being asked.
When we were dating, my husband always went out of his way to show me how much he cared about me by taking care of me. Even now, it’s almost embarrassing… He treats me like a princess. And then I gave birth to these unbelievably precious children who have my heart in a way I never could have imagined. When he loves them well, I feel it. He’s never shirked a parental responsibility because it’s supposedly “the mom’s job.” To watch him take initiative as a father only makes me love him more.
4. Trust has taken on a whole new meaning.
As I write this, my husband has taken our six-year-old and our two-year-old to the grocery store. I used to worry. He'll surely let them ride in the basket of the cart, wander too far and be louder than I would allow if I were there. We are two different people and do things very differently from each other, but parenting alongside him has caused me to open up and trust that things will be alright even if they are done exactly how I would like them to be. Besides, even if something does go wrong, I get the pleasure of saying “I told you so." Win-win.
5. We’re more intentional about making time for each other.
Yes, the children will suck up every moment of our time if we allow it. And I love it. I love being around them and when they are away, I'm sad. But we know that we have to keep our relationship strong no matter what, and having kids has caused us to be more intentional about setting time aside for each other. Time together wasn’t easy to come by when we were dating or newlywed, but now we have many more demands on. So the time we make for each other is even more special, and we both can appreciate that.
Kids are awesome. Yeah, they are difficult and emotional and complicated, but aren’t we all? As for me, it’s not hard for me to see how these messy little creatures have improved my life and my marriage in a hundred different ways. What was I so worried about?