A lot changes when you have kids. Even though we (Allison & Shannon) haven’t experienced it for ourselves, we are still well aware of this fact. People are usually pretty quick to tell you how different life is after having kids. They aren’t shy about this fact. However, one aspect that people don’t normally talk about is how their relationship changes after baby.
Inevitably, your relationship is going to change, we all know that. But because we feel like it’s not something people openly talk about, we wanted to ask some women we know their thoughts on relationship changes after baby. Every relationship will experience something different and we love these women’s honesty on the subject. From how just talking about having children effects the relationship, to sex after children, these women opened our eyes to a lot of new information and we are grateful for that!
Real Women: Relationship Changes After Baby
Samantha + Scott
Before kids, my husband and I were primarily independent units who enjoyed spending time together.
We were responsible for specific household duties, and we managed our time on our own to keep the house functioning. Now that kids are part of the equation, that’s changed. In theory, we have our responsibilities divided up – he does dishes, I do laundry – but kids themselves can’t really be an assignment. Okay, it actually worked pretty well when they were babies. He fed and changed diapers from 11pm-3am and I handled feeding and changing from 3am-7am. But now that the kids are older and have preferences on who helps them with things, we’re often both involved in everything they do. Meaning that our time is not our own anymore.
We’ve had to learn to recognize when each of us needs help. We’re a team, and we have to manage the whole house together. Since having kids we’ve come to recognize each other’s breaking points better, and we try to step in before the other person reaches theirs. Just today I was at a breaking point with one of the boys after trying to stop repeated tantrums, so Scott stepped in and handled the timeout for me. It’s all a give-and-take type life now.
Things don’t get done as efficiently as we’d like anymore, but that’s just part of life. We have to be able to help each other and overlook it from time to time when one of us doesn’t get the clean laundry folded and put away for weeks at a time (ahem…..my bad).
Cara + Nate
Having children was something my husband and I had talked about for most of our dating relationship.
It was something we both knew we wanted, and by the time we got married, we knew it was something we wanted sooner rather than later. We began trying a few months after our wedding, having no idea what we were in for (the good and the bad). I start from the beginning, because that is when our relationship started to change. Our conversations became a little more kid focused, and our future planning shifted because “what if” I’m pregnant or we have a child then. This was a fun change for us!
As fertility became an issue and month after month of negative pregnancy tests became our life, our relationship took another huge shift.
I began to withdraw and feel a wave of mixed, negative emotions. My husband (at least on the outside) went on day to day life as if nothing was going on. We went from being on the same page to being in different books, at least that’s how it felt. Sex became a task, a means of procreating, not of intimacy between a husband and wife. We weren’t talking about deeper things, worried we would upset the other or go down a rabbit hole, I knew I didn’t have the emotional energy for. I can’t tell you for sure how we got out of that rut, I think it’s a combination of mommy brain and wanting to block it out. But we did. It took work. It took us being willing to hear things we may not want to hear.
After 15 months, we decided to table the whole having a baby thing. That took a huge relief off our relationship. It was November, we decided we would get through the holidays and in the new year, we would start fertility AND look into fostering/adopting a child. We were back on the same page, and it felt so good. Amazing how communication can heal!
Fast forward to the new year, and I was pregnant! Yeah we fall into that annoying, once you stop trying, blah blah blah category. Pardon my tangent, but I do not like this phrase. When you really want a child, when being a mother is all you think about, how do you really stop trying or thinking about it?! I had to hit bottom (and we still had a plan), before I could let the notion of being pregnant and having a baby go. Even then it was temporary. We got lucky! Ok, off my soap box and back to our relationship.
2015 was a year of excitement and planning. We were as close as ever, planning the nursery, picking out names, but most our talk was about our son, not us. In the moment it didn’t seem like a big deal, and even now it doesn’t, but is interesting reflecting back on it. Our son was born in October of that year and our relationship forever changed.
I want to talk about the various stages and how our relationship changes after baby within each of them…
The first few months, I feel like we adjusted well (considering). Prior to the birth we had had several conversations about what being a parent would be like, how things would change, and what support we thought we would need from each other. I feel this helped the transition quite a bit. The primary change (that is still true) is we were no longer the number 1 person in each other’s lives!
During the first year, changes were more in our lifestyle. We weren’t going out together as much. My husband’s job included several evening events. Events I used to attend with him, but was now home with a baby. We became even more of each other’s best friend because time with other friends decreased.
Looking back, I liked this though. We got to know each other on an even deeper level and learn further about each others’ interests. Overall I feel we adjusted well, Our relationship didn’t change too much in those first 6 months. Newborns don’t do a lot. Besides being exhausted, we were still able to have dinners just us, find time to be intimate (maybe in shorter duration due to exhaustion, but we had time at least), and had time for adult conversations. We learned to work as a team to get out of the house, keep the house up and care for our son (even in the middle of the night). With work and communication, I felt our relationship was continuing to grow.
As our child grew, our relationship continued to shift.
The second year, brought milestones and being empathetic if one of us missed one. Our world was our son. What he was doing, what his interests were. Dinners were a little more family based, and sometimes our conversations had to be tabled for a screaming toddler. Date nights were a little harder, because where taking a newborn out is doable (if you plan it right with feedings etc.), taking a toddler out is far less enjoyable. We learned to adapt. Like bonding over season 1 of West World during our son’s naps on the weekend; because let’s be real, by the time he went to bed, we were too tired for much of anything. Still, we had one huge interest in common…our son. Sharing the enjoyment of his growth and development with my husband has been magical, and helped us grow in a whole new way.
We now have a preschooler, and I feel like this has been the hardest stage on our relationship. He requires so much more attention…”mama watch this,” “daddy come here,” etc. As I’ve been writing this, I’ve heard these statements half a dozen times already. He rarely naps, and on the days he naps he doesn’t go to bed until after 8:30 pm. Not leaving much time for my husband and I before I am passed out from work and chasing him. Quiet dinners just the two of us are rare, and if they do happen we are eating around 8:30 or later.
Big conversations are much more difficult to have. Not only is time limited, but our son also understands quite a bit more. He is integrated into much more of our life, which is wonderful. But it does takes more time away from our relationship as a couple. If there is a deeper issue to be discussed, sometimes it takes a couple weeks before we are even able to have a real conversation about it. Our day to day conversations include scheduling, child care and dinner for him and us.
When our son was a newborn, I had to increase my patience because we were both tired and doing our best (hint: recognizing you are both doing the best you can is a huge help in keeping your relationship kind). Now I have to be patient on being able to talk to my husband. Like do we want to have another child…because we just don’t have time to talk. We have started having family babysit, just so we can sit at home and have these conversations.
Having a child comes with challenges.
Such as possible health concerns, developmental delays, tantrums and discipline, various appointments, school, field trips. It’s exhausting and it’s easy to let your marriage or relationship fall by the wayside.
I have learned COMMUNICATION is key. It is something we continue to work on and alter to fit our ever changing lifestyle. What used to work, doesn’t work anymore. There have been times, even earlier this year, when we were both frustrated and annoyed for what seemed like months. Times I felt like all we were doing was drifting a part. When all I wanted was a few quiet hours with my husband. Times I wish I could tell him more about how I was feeling. There just wasn’t a moment to do so. Some days this is hard on me and I miss how it was before. But to be honest, I don’t think I can even remember how it was pre-parenthood.
Most days I love this new life we have created. How the awe of watching our little boy grow and develop has helped my husband and I grow and connect in a way I didn’t even know was possible.
Even as I have been writing this, we have bickered a little bit. I know a few kisses and hand holding (something we try and do multiple times a day for connection) will make it all better. Doing what you can to stay connected is so important! We try and do date nights (not as frequently as I would like). They are simple like dinner and a movie. We try and be intimate at least 1-2 times a week. Sometimes this may not have the passion we would like, but making it happen still helps us connect and stay connected at a level that is so important to a relationship.
To me, all of the changes have been more than worth it because as I finish this I have my husband and son cuddled up on the couch next to me. My son just covered up my husband with a blanket stating, “I share blanket with Daddy, Daddy have blanket, and I have blanket;” and I don’t know if my heart has ever melted more.
Molly + David
I didn’t think I could love my husband any more than I did the day I married him.
Until I saw him become a dad. Seeing my husband love and play with our son opened up a part of my heart that I didn’t know existed. He also really stepped up to be the partner I didn’t know that I wanted or that I would need. I have always considered myself a strong independent woman. But having a baby was humbling. I didn’t know everything and I needed my husband more than I ever had.
What is difficult is knowing that I’m no longer the most important person in my husbands life. My husband and son have a bond like none other. As much as I love that they love each other, it’s sometimes difficult knowing I am second fiddle after so many years of being his number one. Don’t get me wrong, I would die for my child. I know that the love my husband has for our son is different than the love he has for me. I think that is what is hard though. His love for our son is unconditional. There is nothing that would ever change that love. The love my husband has for me is something that we, as a couple, have to work on every day.
Disagreements in my marriage don’t happen that often, I don’t say that to be condescending or to be that annoying couple who say we never fight. We truly just don’t fight that much. However we do argue and disagree and especially get on each other’s nerves. After 10 years together it’s inevitable. After having our son the reality of those disagreements became real. The option to leave each other no longer just affects us, it would affect the life of our child.
Let’s be real too, sex after children isn’t the same.
Waiting until the little one goes to bed is a dangerous game. After working, adulting and raising a kid, nights are actually for sleeping now.
Although there are aspects of my marriage before children that I miss, this journey of raising a child with my husband has grown our relationship to a new level. I wouldn’t want to do this parent thing with anyone else!
Relationships are constantly changing. From marriage to having kids to growing old together, we all experience these changes at some point. Here at The Middle Edit, we want to talk about those changes. We want us all to feel connected and that we can all relate. While we won’t all experience the same thing, we will all experience something. So THANK YOU to these women for sharing their stories and for letting us into what relationship changes after baby is really like!
Did you notice a shift in your relationship after having children?