Keeping Your Marriage Alive When You Have Small Children

Marriage is an odd, unique concept. You find a person who you love so much that you make a lifelong commitment to them. I know not every marriage lasts a lifetime, but normally that’s the goal at the beginning. My husband and I have been married for almost six years and together for almost eleven.

The past three years have catapulted our marriage into a foreign, uncharted land.

We went from not having children to currently raising two kids under two. Marriage alone can be difficult; throw in pregnancy and postpartum-induced hormones, lots of sleepless nights, both of us working full-time and we found ourselves lost in marriage limbo for a bit. We were able to enjoy marriage again around the time my daughter started walking, and right around that time I found out I was pregnant yet again, this time with a little boy.

I can honestly say that after having my son who is now seven-months-old, our marriage is stronger than ever. It took us a few years, lots of arguments, and hormonal raging tears to get here, but we’ve managed to keep the fire alive. I’m not just talking about the physical fire; I’m talking about the way we actually love each other and want to be around each other fire.

Here’s what has helped us:

  • Sleep in the same bed. I never realized how much our relationship suffered when I was sleeping in the guest bedroom while nursing my daughter. Physical touch became non-existent and we never had conversations before we went to sleep. Those few precious minutes we should have had together were gone. After she was done nursing, she moved into the bed with us. We still co-sleep with her, and her brother sleeps in the room, but not the bed. It works for us. Even if we do have a toddler between us, there is something special about being able to say “I love you” before we fall asleep. Every now and then we even get a few cuddles in. It’s made such a difference in how we treat each other outside of the bedroom.
  • Focus on yourself. The common phrase “You can’t pour from an empty cup” speaks to me. I like to joke that I’m still in survival mode when it comes to my current life. I’m caught somewhere between being a wife, mom to two small children, full-time government employee, side hustler, volunteer blogger, and sorority volunteer. Recently my mental state started to wane because I was giving to all my roles except for one: Chelsea. I made it a priority to start eating well again, working out, and saying no to obligations because doing those things makes me feel like an actual human being again. Giving back to myself has made me a better wife, mom, and employee. I know self-care can be hard to do without feeling guilty, but doing so is the greatest gift you can give yourself and the people who are important in your life. 
  • Let it go. I’m stubborn. Steven is stubborn. We could probably go days without talking if we put our minds to it. Please never do that. It isn’t healthy for you or your marriage. Obviously some issues are not ones that can be easily let go, but think hard about why you are upset with your spouse at the onset of an argument. Is it worth wasted time and emotions? It’s often more beneficial to pull a Queen Elsa and just let it go. 
  • Make your relationship a priority. I understand not everyone can have a regular date night. We can’t. We have no local family members to babysit for us and no extra funds to pay for a regular babysitter. We’ve actually only hired a babysitter twice in over two years. We utilize our families whenever they come to visit and try to have a mini-date while they are here, but the majority of the time we just prioritize our time together when we can. For us this means watching a Netflix series we both enjoy every night or conversing while driving to the grocery store. We also text each other every morning since we aren’t awake at the same time. We make it a priority to spend time and focus on each other no matter the situation. 
  • Remember the golden rule. No, not the one you are thinking about. Try my personal golden rule for a change: I always love you, but I don’t always like you. I tell Steven this all the time. I love my husband with my entire being but he drives me insane. We are a true example of opposites attract; I’m loud and dramatic, while he is quieter and level-headed. Whenever we start to disagree or he does something that makes me want to shake him, I just remind myself that I always love him, but I don’t always like him. It instantly puts me at ease and helps me lighten up a bit. 

I wrote this post because I want you to know it’s normal to not have a perfect marriage, especially if you are parents to small children. Just like parenting is fleeting, so is marriage. Take a step back and remember why you married your spouse and enjoy him or her!

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