Keeping Your Marriage a Priority After Kids

After you become parents for the first time, you may find that, along with everything else, your marriage has suddenly become uncharted territory. Where you once had seemingly endless amounts of time to spend together, you now have hurried moments between feedings and changings, fighting exhaustion and any number of other distractions you didn’t have previously. Where your relationship once seemed easy and uncomplicated, it now takes hard work and intentionality.

My husband and I are certainly far from experts at this whole marriage thing, but we’ve been together for 12 years and I think we’ve got a pretty good thing going, even after adding a third person (soon to be four!) to our decade-long coupledom. Here are a few tips that have worked for us to keep our marriage from getting stale after having our son.

Put your kids to bed early enough to have adult time

This is probably one of the more important ones for us. Our son goes to bed every night right around 7:00 PM, which allows my husband and I to have several hours of strictly adult time to do things together that don’t involve our child. We typically wait to eat dinner until after he’s in bed, so we can sit and talk and really enjoy our meal without one of us having to cut up pieces of food to put on his tray or make sure he has enough milk in his sippy cup. Sure, we talk about him occasionally during our adult time, but without one of us having to give him our full attention, we can focus that attention on each other.

When you’re alone together, talk about things other than your kids

I remember our very first date night after our son was born. It was when he was just a couple weeks old; we went out for dinner and drinks in town while my parents watched him. I also remember very consciously trying to talk about things other than our son in our time out together, because I knew it was important to set the precedent early that we still had a relationship outside of our role as parents. We had to be really intentional in the beginning about sticking to topics other than diaper rashes and the cute new thing our son was doing that day, but in time, it became routine and welcomed to have interesting and dynamic adult conversation that didn’t revolve around the baby.

Schedule time out and stick to it

Life has a way of getting complicated when you have kids. There are a million more obligations, you’re exhausted 90% of the time and it’s easy to let date nights or time out with your spouse fall by the wayside. Don’t let it. Schedule date nights in advance and add them to your calendar, just like band practices and dance classes and those nine Frozen themed birthday parties you have to attend this month. If you don’t have family members or friends close-by to watch your kids, browse around on—they have tons of reliable sitters with references who will be happy to watch your kids for a few hours while you grab dinner and toss back a few martinis.


Don’t let your sex life be your last priority

This is a tough one and a touchy subject for some couples. After long days of working, corralling kids and schlepping bodies here, there and everywhere, sex can be the farthest thing from your mind, especially for women. But somewhere along the way, I learned that men value sex as a means of emotional validation, the way a woman values a compliment about how she looks in her new outfit or the killer meal she put on the table. I’m not saying you have to be tearing it up in the bedroom every night of the week, but don’t let too much time pass without being intimate with your spouse. It’s an incredibly important way of connecting emotionally and, unfortunately, the longer it gets neglected, the harder it can be to get back on track. Even if you’re not up for sex, make sure you still connect physically during the day, whether it’s holding hands, kissing or just sitting close to each other on the couch.

Talk about tough subjects before they become arguments

Parenting is freakin stressful. If someone tells you it’s not, they’re lying to you. Certain aspects of parenting are more stress-inducing than others, especially things like sex, money, discipline of children, etc. Broach those subjects before they become arguments, if possible. When our son was first born, I remember feeling guilty about every dollar I spent since I suddenly wasn’t a contributing member (financially) of our household. Finally, after too many stressful fights about money, we sat down and hammered out a strict budget. Since then, we’ve had zero fights about our finances and I feel like we’re completely on the same page when it comes to spending. It sucks to talk about this kind of stuff, but better to do it when you’re both levelheaded and rational instead of upset and emotional.

Be an individual in addition to a spouse

This might sound counterproductive to making a partnership work, but I think it’s equally important to invest in yourself as an individual, as it is to invest in your marriage. Have hobbies outside of your home that you do separately and cultivate interests that you’re passionate about, even if your spouse doesn’t share those same passions. Though it’s great to have shared interests, it can be stifling to have all your free time devoted to parental or spousal activities. Get involved in a church group, join a book club, meet up with friends and have a night out that doesn’t revolve around husbands and kids; just make time for you. Your marriage will be stronger if you allow yourselves to be separate and distinct people with your own interests and passions.

What are your top rules for keeping your marriage fresh after kids?

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Melissa Mowry

Melissa Mowry is a stay at home mom to 3 year old Chase and the slightly younger guy, Sam. She is the main voice behind One Mother to Another, which she started in July 2014 as a way to connect with other moms who felt just as lonely as she did some days. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Adam, and they live in their home state of Rhode Island. Melissa's work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Coffee + Crumbs and Mamapedia, among others. Her book, One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us is for sale on Amazon.
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4 Responses to Keeping Your Marriage a Priority After Kids

  1. TimeDancer January 18, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    I love this! We have been married for just under two years, but we became parents very soon after, so we’ve had to learn these within the past year since our daughter was born last January. It’s stressful learning to balance everything, but it can be done. Like you said at the beginning, our daughter has a strict bed time, so that we can have some time together. My husband works a lot, and then I work on his off days, if it’s possible. Our time together sans Lucy is very limited, so we have to soak it up while we can. We don’t really get date nights any more though, because we are VERY picky about who watches her. In the beginning, I had terrible post partum, so she was with family a lot of the time. However, when it finally subsided, we basically haven’t let her out of our sight. This may not be healthy as healthy for our marriage, but it is healthy for her to have stability. When we do go out or have adult time, we generally keep the conversation about her to a minimum. However, the last time we had a sitter to have a night to sleep with just the two of us, I couldn’t stop worrying about her and ended up almost driving to pick her up because I was so worried. When it comes to talking about the tough subjects, we generally talk about everything, so it becomes a non issue. There are times though, when I bottle things up, and then I’m a loose cannon. I just start talking about everything that has bothered me about that subject since it became an issue. I’m bad about that, and it’s something I try to work on. Generally though, that hardly ever happens. As far as having interests outside of my husband, I definitely do. Do I go out by myself and vice versa? It hardly ever happens, but that is something we’ve been trying to make a point of doing more recently.

  2. TimeDancer January 18, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    Sorry for such a long comment! I just wanted to do your post justice in answering you. Anyways, lovely post! I hope you’re having a wonderful day. 🙂

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