How to keep your marriage strong after kids
By Anchel Krishna @anchelk
Kids are game changers. You go from being responsible only for the survival of yourself to putting the needs of this new little being first. Yes, it is stressful. Yes, it changes a marriage. Yes, it changes who we are and how we operate. And yes, it changes how we feel about almost everything. There are no doubts that kids bring challenges no one can anticipate before having them. But they also bring so much joy, love and growth that I believe can make a marriage stronger.
My husband, Dilip, and I faced a number of challenges after Syona was born. We had a little one that made her own complicated arrival, complete with a two-week stay in the hospital’s NICU and a later diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Life went from being really simple to being extremely complicated. But she also brought out the best in us and taught us how to be parents, and better partners to each other. So here are our tips on how to keep your marriage strong after kids:
1. Do things together.
Facing a long day with a fussy newborn was a tough task. I really looked forward to weekends when Dilip was home so we could clean up projectile baby spit up together. Yes, it was gross. But we were a team and that made it a little more manageable.
2. Get comfortable.
Sometimes you just have to lower your standards. The house may not be perfect and you and your partner are probably walking around with some dark under-eye circles that are the honourable badges of sleep deprivation. That’s ok. At this point you and your partner should give each other a free pass and talk about what you can’t be flexible about.
For example, I knew that I wouldn’t feel human if I went a day without showering…so I never did. I may have changed back into the same pyjamas after the shower…but I had a shower and that was what mattered (side benefit: my husband would tell me I looked nice when I dressed up in sweats). My husband’s ask was simple: five minutes a day, completely alone to scan the news and the scores. So we made those priorities and got comfortable with the rest.
3. Spend some time together every day.
Sure that time may be sitting on the couch together like sleep-deprived zombies, but you are still together. Don’t put pressure to make this time “high-quality” – just make it a priority to find the time. It provides some space for the important things to come out on their own. Dilip and I also use the time spent in the car as a great opportunity to chat and catch up.
4. Take advantage of family and be sure to head out on date night.
Acceptable date nights include: watching an entire season of a show you used to watch pre-baby, going grocery shopping and paying the bills together online. They don’t have to be the expensive, glamorous dates of days gone by. Sometimes simple is better.
5. Take time to laugh together.
This is still one of our biggest priorities. Laughing helps ease stress, it increases bonding and allows you to experience the joys. It also means that Syona laughs a lot because that’s what we model. We’re also pretty open and honest when things are hard because we think that’s part of life. But life is good…and that deserves to be celebrated.
One of the pieces of advice my parents gave me before I got married was to be sure to always give our love space so it could grow and we could enjoy that growth together over the years. It’s a beautiful way to look at a relationship and I think my dedication to this approach has only grown stronger after having Syona. We have lots of love in our lives and we make active choices to fuel that love and enjoy it.
What are your tips to keeping your marriage strong after kids?
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