April 10, 2023
I just finished putting down our girls for bed and was feeling all the feels tonight as my husband is away at the masters tournament. I grabbed a glass of wine and decided to tackle one of the questions I get asked the most: “How is marriage after kids?”
Disclaimer: If it wasn’t already on your mind, every single marriage and partnership looks different. This is our experience and what we went through to get to where we are today. This is not marriage advice. This does not mean it will be what you will experience, but I hope this encourages you.
We were married for 3 months before getting pregnant, so to say we had much experience in the marriage department before our lives changed, well we didn’t. Our relationship before we got married was completely long distance and the first time we lived in the same city, we lived under the same roof in a 700 sq foot loft apartment. No wait, it gets better, the pandemic happened 3 months in. HAHA So, we were in doors together non-stop for the foreseeable future.
My husband always says, we had spent more time together in our first year of marriage than some people spend in five years of marriage and it’s actually true. We spent a lot of time together and in that we learned a lot about each other. The good, bad, and ugly – very quickly.
We made a big move when I was around 14 weeks pregnant with our first daughter and I was so sick during that time. When I tell you we learned “in sickness and in health” real quick, man we sure did. My husband’s a real one for taking care of me during such a hard time for me in every capacity due to my health during that pregnancy. We moved away from family and to a completely new city where we didn’t know anyone. We had each other and that was it. It allowed for us to connect and grow in a way that I will forever hold dear, even though I remember it being so incredibly hard.
Let this ring loud and clear, our baby girl was not the problem nor did she specifically cause problems in our marriage. She was the driving force behind our own selfishness that allowed for it all to be surfaced. In that the Lord used her to teach us sanctification and the humbling of ourselves to become more like Him. Our marriage is better because our daughter entered into our family.
We did so much prepping for my birth that we completely dropped the ball on the fourth trimester (postpartum). Both of us thinking that we would just figure it out after our daughter arrived, and though we did, we did not anticipate the stretching, breaking, molding and welding that was about to happen in our marriage.
It was one of those times where the devil came and wiggled his way into the cracks where we were lacking and caused division and bitterness towards one another. It was the first time in our marriage I had experienced the thoughts of what it would look like to just throw my hands up and walk away. Listen, it sounds so silly, but when you’re sleep deprived, recovering, experiencing postpartum depression/anxiety, learning to breastfeed, have low libido, pelvic floor pain, working through body changes and you’re taking care of another human while you’re falling apart. It was SO hard for me.
Don’t get me wrong, in the midst of chaos, there was bouts of joy in there! I had a lot of unspoken expectations on my husband, that he wasn’t fulfilling for me in his new role as a dad. Now, I know that the newborn stage is just hard for him. He personally struggled with helping me with our daughter and I overstepped a lot. I would step in by just saying, “let me do it” because it was easier that way. Except I didn’t realize it was stealing moments from him to learn and grow as a father. I was wanting more from him but I was keeping him from giving more. This was a hard reality to learn for me. Listen, he did do things on his side that he could talk about as well but I will leave that for him. It’s his part of the story to tell and I won’t speak for him in that.
Another area that was hard for us, intimacy. My goodness, why no one talks about this? I don’t even know. Maybe shame or embarrassment? I couldn’t tell you but it was extremely hard for us. First of all, I had to go to pelvic floor physical therapy for extreme pain and other things. Intimacy was not at all what I wanted, like a hard no. I would try but man it was not good for me. This caused frustration on both ends but also it’s a huge area that can make a lot of other problems come out of it. Intimacy is important and a really amazing thing within the confines of marriage. When it’s all out of whack, it leaves room in our marriage for bitterness, frustration, and just built up tension.
I read a study that said, “between 35%-50% of first-time marriages end in divorce” and at my core, I trembled. Would this be us? Would we become another statistic or would we be able to push past the hurt, anger and turmoil we were currently in to move forward hand in hand. Would we be able to care for each other in a way that’s serving the others good or would we choose selfishness? Would we choose Christ’s love?
I know you read all this way for me to tell you, I don’t have an answer for you. When we got married Tryce wrote this quote to me:
“Welcome one another… for the glory of God.” That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank him for it; thank him for leading you thus far; ask him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be “for the praise of his glory.” Amen” – John Piper
Our marriage foundation is not one of our own strength. We promised to place our marriage in the hands of Christ and in the times of trial that we were experiencing (and will continue to) we would remember the foundation in which we were built on. I began to look inward instead of outward and chose to ask myself how I could change. How, in these moments, can I do better? How can I be a better wife? How can I serve my husband, even in my bitterness? How could I love him, even in my frustration? How could I find joy in my marriage again?
The short answer: Knowing more of Him.
Him = the Lord.
The only way to become more like Christ is to know what Christ was like. Search in His word the ways that he loves us, serves us and gives us endless grace. All of which we do not deserve. So, in my marriage, even when my husband doesn’t necessarily deserve anything, I choose to give it anyway. Always? No because I am not perfect. We are both extremely hard headed, which is also why I know we will always fight for our marriage.
In parenting, we are learning skills. I saw a instagram post by a girl named, Amanda, say this, “It has forced my hand to need more than my independent spirit has ever wanted to need. Those needs have created skills. & I can see where we are being built stronger with more skills in our tool belts. Ironically we are also being built softer.” She goes on to say, “there is nothing quite like understanding humility for all it’s worth in the raw moments of early parenthood.”
Can I just say mic drop?
Okay, mic drop.
Learning humility and grace in the season of marriage after kids, is so incredibly raw and hard to do. It takes intentionality and pushing down your pride in order to grow. Praying that your roots are gripping deeper in good soil.
If you know your spouse/partner, remember what makes them happy. If you don’t know, ask! Communication after you have kids is honestly key. It can alleviate a lot of stress and help you to serve one another better. Make time for a date night, wether it’s once a week or once a month, do it! Have weekly or monthly “business meetings” (family meetings) and talk about everything from finances to sex to service to work to housework, etc. This allows for you both to stay on the same page. Find time for intimacy, wether that is during the day or late at night. Connect and bond together.
We are still figuring this all out every day. But I will say, two kids later, we are the happiest we have ever been in our marriage. I would go through it all over again to learn the lessons we have and to be in the place that we are today. I am so incredibly in love with my husband and the way he serves and loves our family. This doesn’t mean we don’t still have hard days because we do. But I am a better wife because our kids came into our family.