The Wheel: Balancing Marriage Before and After Baby

Sadly, children is one of the top five reasons couples get divorced. Not having children I’m not exactly sure why that is, but that statistic sorta frightens me.

When I was on my trip with The Blogrollers in Chicago I met a lot of women who had been married longer than I had. One thing I took the time to ask them was how they made their marriage work.

Most women were at a loss for words when it came to describing the technique. From what I hear, once you have kids it can make time together more difficult and stressful. Most of the women I talked to said it was a struggle getting their husbands to help out around the house.

Luckily for me, that’s not a problem with us… Yet. To be honest, I’m the one getting begged and pleaded with to help. It’s actually been that way the entire time we’ve been married. I’ve done the laundry maybe a handful of times, and the dishes… I think three times. So seeing we’re an odd couple when it comes to that it has me wondering what our battles will be when a baby comes into the picture.

I think it’ll be waking up at night… As we both love to sleep. When we first got Snoop I was the one who got up in the middle of the night to let him go to the bathroom. Now though, my husband is the one that remembers to walk (and feed) him every day.

Thinking about all of this and after reading my friend’s Newly Identified blog post about marriage, it made me think about what makes OUR marriage work now.

One of the biggest, most obvious things is communication. We try not to go to bed angry, but sometimes that’s not always possible. But when we wake up the next day usually we’ve cooled off enough to talk about whatever the problem is. Sometimes communication means tears (on my part) but at least it’s getting it all out there. Neither of us are too proud to say “I’m sorry,” and I can’t think of any problem or disagreement we haven’t been able to handle.

Sure, there are things that bug the HECK out of me, but I’ve learned to adjust to them, and not let it get to me. I think that’s important–Accepting who they are, and remembering why you fell in love and got married. Sometimes that thing you loved about them changes, but that’s ok. I think you’ve gotta be willing to grow and change together.

But most of all… The advice I think works best in any relationship, is advice I shared in a small hotel room in Chicago with five other wonderful women. The opportunity to share it came up when one of the women said sometimes it’s hard to continue to get closer together as you grow older, because you change and sometimes grow apart. In answer to that I shared the advice I was given before we got married and I’ve promised to never forget.

My future-husband at the time, and I were described as spokes on a wheel. Sometimes we’d be far apart on this wheel and sometimes we’d be close together. But what will be sure to pull us closer together more than anything else is what’s in the center of that post… The center being Christ.

He told us if we both work toward getting closer to Christ we’d also be getting closer to each other at the same time.

I’m not sure exactly how having a child will change our marriage. There are the obvious things like sleep and time, but I wonder what kind of toll it will take on us. I love spending time with my husband now, and sometimes that already can be short. How will I continue to make alone time for us?

Last night after a long day we went babysitting. We were both already tired and a little cranky, but our little friend was wide awake and ready to play. Not long after we got there, we were both getting tired. We took turns playing with him while the other rested our eyes.

During my his, my husband was playing with J, but he was being SO loud! I mean, WAY louder than the laughing baby. I shhhed him, and he told me that is what it was going to be like after we have a baby.

His words made me think… Seeing he’ll be a fun and entertaining dad is encouraging, but obnoxiously loud? Hmmm. I hope our love for the Lord can keep us from driving each other crazy after kids!

I’ve heard children can bring you closer together but I’ve also heard they can drive you further apart. What do you do to keep your marriage going strong? Those with children–How do you make it so your children bring you closer together? What are the major changes in your relationship after having kids? I’d LOVE your input!

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  1. Those are a lot of questions with long answers! I can only speak from my experience here. I think going to places as a family really helps! Whether it is practices, dr. visits, church, working out or family trips. It can be a hassle but it helps. It can be hard to find a baby sitter especially if you have lots of kids. Take advantage of night outs alone together when you can.
    Everything changes after having kids. It’s no longer just about you or your hubby. Your time is shifted, your sleep, the way you eat and any quiet time that you had is gone. If you get it while they are sleeping you will be lucky if you don’t pass out yourself!

  2. Wow…where to begin. If you have a solid marriage and both want children, I can only see that bringing you closer together. I think it is really important that you are on the same page regarding discipline and other issues that could arise. Kids just love it when they can bribe one or the other parent to their side. 🙂 There are a lot of things that change within you after you ahve a baby (for the good). Getting up in the night is actually quite wonderful – especially if you plan to nurse your baby. It is such a special, peaceful time.

    You have mentioned in your blog that you and your husband keep the lines of communication open. That is critical. If there is a crisis with the kids, talk togehter first about how you want to handle it. If you can’t agree, you must at least be on the same page in front of the kids.

    I wasn’t much of a nurturer so I enjoyed them more and more the older they got. (BTW – I have two sons.) Did I mention that I have been married for 35 years and my boys are 29 and 31.

    My happiest memories are when we were/are all together. Having kids is a true blessing from God!

    Sorry if this seems a little disjointed – I hope I helped a little.

  3. I am a firm believer if you have a rocky/troubled, non-communicative relationship before children; the unresolved issues in your marriage only get larger when children come along. Children do not fix an ailing marriage, even though many people think bringing a life into the world, made of both of them will. If you have a strong, loving, respecting, communicative relationship, having a baby will bring about so much more love and adoration of each other, it’s amazing how GREAT a marriage can be when it’s strong to begin with and then children just bless the union beyond words!!!

  4. I love the analogy of the wheel, that is so true. I can always tell when we are both slacking on that. I always have the same fears you do. How do you become fully prepared in your marriage, to have kids? I think you hit the nail on the head, remember to come closer to Christ.

    -Ana Lee (Newlyidentified)

  5. I am in your boat now…My husband and I married in 2005 and will probably start trying to get pregnant in the next few months. I think a lot about all the changes…I’ve been really thinking about it a lot these last few months…At times, I get overwhelmed with everything, but I know in my heart that I love children, and he loves children and that he will be a great father. I pray for the strength to be a great mother. What I want most for my kids is kindness, compassion, courage, faith (intelligence would be nice too)…I don’t care if I have a boy or girl…I can honestly say that. When I was younger and thought of children in the future, I thought it would be easier to identify with a girl. Now, all I care about is that we have a healthy, happy baby and that I can be a great parent. I’m looking forward to the time when the love supersedes the fear. I’m sorry for times when I’ve had fear. But, fear is a valid emotion….I guess one bit of advice that I have for you (and myself!) is to try to take things one day at a time…If I think about all that may be or may come as a parent, I start to feel overwhelmed…My husband said, “If you stop and think of all the food you will eat your whole life, that would be overwhelming…” Meaning: Take things one step at a time…

  6. I think the main thing that worked in our favor was waiting to have children until we were ready. We were married for nearly 9 years before she was born and we had a firm foundation. I think the main thing to do is to still let your husband know how important he is to you. I think some women/men put their children first all the time and can end up putting their spouse/marriage on the back burner. There are always ways to make time for each other (after the baby goes to bed, getting a sitter, etc.) Spending time as a family is also very important and something we try to do regularly. I can honestly say that our relationship has never been stronger than it is now after having our daughter. We’ll see what happens come February when baby #2 arrives! 🙂

  7. It’s both better and harder.

    Yes, children and the responsibilities they entail are going to add stress to the marriage. That’s why it’s so important to really be ready to have children before you do! I can’t stress it enough.

    But, since it’s so much harder, it’s also way more rewarding. Our lives are richer. We appreciate small blessings more than ever.

    It’s kind of like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They pretty much had the best life ever, right? Playing around with animals all day and having no responsibility. When they partook of the fruit, it all changed. The Lord told them they’d have tribulations and sufferings. But they knew they couldn’t have a fullness of joy if they didn’t experience the hard stuff.

    And so it is with raising children. It is HARD. Not gonna lie. There are days I wish I could go back to being just the two of us again. But, the times with our little girl are 100 times better than it ever was with just the two of us! We recently went to Disneyland and even though it was super-hard doing all the rides with a toddler, it was the most fun Disneyland trip I’ve ever been on. Why? Because we were all together and the sacrifice made it worth it.

    Well, I’m getting all emotional now. But you just have to trust me on this one. It’s a hard road, but it’s better. Children truly are “an heritage to the Lord.”

  8. In both my relationships having children pushed us further apart 🙁 but def fight, fight for your marriage fight for your children & trust in Heavenly Father!

  9. It has brought us closer and we communicate and understand each other more. It makes marriage harder and you have to work to find time together and the energy to give to each other… gets easier after the first 3 months…and easier still the older they get.

  10. I don’t think I want to share that with a childfree chick like you. It might put you off:) Let’s just say it all changes after kids and nothing will ever be the same again so enjoy what you right now. It sounds as if you have a strong relationship so that’s good. It makes me sad when people have kids and they haven’t even had a chance to get to know each other properly yet.

  11. I think it’s great that you and your Hubs are waiting a bit to have kids, I’m also LDS and I often feel immense pressure because my hubster have been married for 4 years and haven’t started a family as we finished school and are beginning our careers.

    I know that I definitely want a family (a big one) just not yet. And you’re absolutely right–communication is key! I like the wagon wheel analogy, we were told a similar one about a triangle, with the Saviour at the top. It was my favourite part of the advice given to us before we got married. 🙂

  12. I’m glad you ask these kinds of questions. . . because I love to read the responses. In 3 months, our lives will change forever – again! And I have moments of panic, but I’m hoping that the strong foundation we’ve established and good communication skills we’ve acquired will help us through. So far, so good. Even the pregnancy has changed some things (i.e. intimacy), but we’re still going strong and happy. . .

    To nourish us as a couple, I’m all about trying to establish date nights ASAP after this baby is born. I’m even thinking of establishing a “date night co-op” with a few other couples in our ward.

  13. You know how in the scriptures we learn that we have to know the bitter to know the sweet? Well, that is how I feel life is after kids. Life get indescribably sweeter….but it also has times that are more bitter than I’ve experienced before. It is all part of our learning process. Oh, and I do really like the wheel analogy.

  14. My hubby and I are at the same stage as you. No kids, but the future has strollers and late night feedings in store for us.

    My dad always described kids as “expensive hobbies” (meaning when you have kids, that is what you do; play with them, focus on them, etc) and in the same way that any hobby can bring you closer to your spouse or further away, so can this one. If you both enjoy the hobby it brings you together. If you both want to do the hobby it brings you together. If one person is annoyed about the hobby it puts a strain on the relationship. You can replace hobby with sailing or golf or kids. And of course, when you have kids, the other hobbies take a massive back seat and both have to be okay with that and ready for that. Golfing all day Saturday really isn’t a viable option anymore.

    I think that it just matters that you are on the same page, or try to be.

  15. I’m with you – that idea kind of scares me. Right now my husband and I kind of share chores. I probably do a little more than him but I also work less than him. And I HATE doing dishes because I have to do them at work too. So. Who knows.

    With kids… I don’t know. I can definitely see how that would make things harder. But I can see how kids make things more amazing too. I guess it’s just a balancing act that you have to learn as you go along.

  16. Oh man, so much to say on this topic!!

    Me and my husband are like you and yours. Our relationship is very odd as well. He is the neat freak, I am ok with clutter. He does the dishes every day and I occasionally do laundry. He cant vacuum because of his allergies, but I only do that once in a blue moon (probably shouldn’t admit that. lol).

    We had a great relationship before having a baby, seeing as how we were still in the honeymoon stage. We had only been married a year before we got pregnant. So we were good to go in that arena. But then again, I was not ready to have my time with my hubby taken away. And boy, it was definitely taken away. Having a baby changes everything. But that just means you regroup and find what works for you.

    Since I stay at home, I am EXHAUSTED and ready for a freaking break by the end of the day. So my hubby comes in and immediately entertains our son for about an hour while I cook dinner. It is a great way for me to get my thoughts together and have some “me” time, that way I can focus on my hubby during dinner.

    I chased a rabbit. Sorry. 🙂

    I guess what I am trying to say is, its a give and take. You both have to give up some stuff and sacrifice some stuff to stay sane. And please, please, please, make time for date nights. That has saved us. Our parents take turns keeping Zachariah once a week. So that one day a week, we have a couple hours to do whatever we need to. Grocery shop, go to dinner, go out with friends, or just clean the house jamming out to some tunes. It really is amazing at what one night a week will do for your relationship.

    In the evenings after our son goes to bed (around 8:00), we are known to put away our cell phones and computers and bring out some board games, or a movie, or just sit on the couch and talk. It is very refreshing.

    Having a kid makes things much more difficult. But you just need to find a routine and make the best of the alone time that you get. And obviously keep Christ in the center. That is always VERY important. 🙂

    You will figure everything out. You could get a hundred responses all telling you their tips and tricks, but none of them may fit with your relationship. So you just gotta experiment and tough it out during the hard times. 🙂

    Okay! Sorry I babbled so much. I have a bad habit of doing that.

  17. Truthfully,our Christian faith helps keeps our marriage going strong. It keeps us focused and aware of the real priorities in life. We try very hard to treat each other with respect and compassion. Marriage is hard and gets more difficult with kids–but also more rich and full. We’ve been married 21 years, have 2 teenagers, and honestly, it’s not easy to remember the 2 years BK (before kids.)EVERYTHING changes when you have kids–it’s an adventure of love and blessings.

  18. I have been very blessed to have a very hands on husband and a very understanding husband. Communication is very, very important in a relationship especially when things change. The hardest part was having my little one and trying to make time for our relationship (not to mention having sex). But through communicating my needs and how I feel we have been able to get pass our issues. I wish the same for your marriage.

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