Oftentimes you will hear the expression, “Everything changes once you have kids.” I too used to hear this expression before having kids and thought it meant that my sleep would be disrupted, that I would change more than my fair share of diapers, and that I would never leave the house without a full change of clothes for each member of the family.
What I did not realize would change, and what I feel no one openly talks about is how your marriage changes after you have children.
Your relationship drastically shifts after the birth of a child. It is no longer you and your significant other. It is now you, your significant other, and your very needy and not particularly patient children.
Somehow almost every decision you make after having children (even if it is entirely unrelated to your child) revolves around your child. For instance, you need to go the grocery store to pick up your weekly groceries. Instead of just hopping in the car and heading out to the store, you now need to decide when you go (preferably not during nap time), and who goes (everyone, you and baby, or preferably just you).
Your entire life changes.
With this change, married life requires constant communication and a major shift in household labor that I was greatly unprepared for.
For the first three years of my son’s life, my husband and I would play my least favorite game, Who Is Working Harder. This is a game no one can win.
Children are a lot of work. Every moment of household labor greatly increases when you have kids. The cleaning is doubled, grocery shopping tripled, and laundry… well, let’s just say I haven’t seen the bottom of my child’s hamper for the past eight years.
With this increased workload, it is so easy to think about all the things that you are doing. All the hard work that you are putting in. All the night feedings, permission slip signing, IEP reviewing, toenail clipping, and daycare shuffling. And with all honesty, about eighty percent of the child-rearing falls on my shoulders. With this, it is so easy to dismiss my husband, to say that he is doing nothing to help our family and to feel like I am doing it all.
Our polarized viewpoints about our roles lead to many of arguments and often times hurt feelings. Then one day, I stopped thinking about who is working harder and started to think about what my husband was doing.
See, while my husband doesn’t do the daycare drop off or pickups, he runs all of our finances. While my husband doesn’t check to see if last years’ boots still fit, he makes sure that our cars have snow tires each winter. While my husband doesn’t clip my children’s fingernails, he makes sure our smoke alarm batteries are changed each year (and we all know how important that is, thanks, This Is Us.)
We are both working hard. Yes, our roles look different and our workload might not always be dead even, but we are both doing things each day for our children and for each other.
So, now when I start to get upset over something that has gone wrong, and I start to think I am doing everything around here, instead I start to think about all of the things that my husband is doing. How hard he works for our family, and how much I appreciate him.
This small shift has made an amazing impact on my marriage and greatly strengthened us into a true partnership.
I hope that you enjoyed an insight into our marriage and I would love to hear what tips that you have to keep your relationship strong.