Wifey Wednesday: Keeping Your Marriage Strong (After Kids)

Christian Marriage Advice
It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage!  Today guest poster Lindsey Bell shares with us about how to keep your marriage fresh once kids come.

How to Keep Your Marriage Strong After KidsMy husband and I had been married for five years when we had our first child. Those first five years, by and large, went well. Of course, we fought from time to time, but we also had a lot of fun together.

I thought our marriage was solid.

That all changed when we brought a baby home.

I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, the stress of trying (unsuccessfully) to breastfeed, the role changes, or something else, but our marriage took a huge hit that first year we were a family of three.

To be honest, we are still rebuilding. We are working—day by day—to make our marriage solid again.

This time, though, we are doing it with kids, so it’s been a bit more challenging. It requires more intentionality and creativity.

Keeping your marriage strong after kids is certainly not easy, but here are some tips that help.

1. Go on dates regularly.

I know many marriage experts claim you should date your spouse at least once a week. (And honestly, if you’re able to do that, it certainly couldn’t hurt.)

But some of us can’t afford to go out or pay for childcare that often.

If this is the case, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just do what you can. Can you go on a date every other week? Or once a month? What about having an at-home date after the kids go to bed once a week?

You might have to be creative more now than you used to, but the payoff is worth it.

2. Study your spouse.

Learn his or her love language (touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or quality time). Then do your best to speak this language. Take some personality tests to better understand each other.

Figure out those things that energize his or her soul, and then do your best to meet these needs.

3. Go away together.

There is nothing like a romantic trip for two to bring a little bit of spice back into a marriage.

Find someone you trust to watch your children and take an overnight trip (or even a week long vacation!)

My husband and I take trips together (kid-free) at least once a year. Sometimes we are only able to be away for one night, and that’s okay. One night away can strengthen your marriage in incredibly ways. 

4. Take care of yourself.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, failing to eat right, and never doing anything for yourself, you’re bound to snap at your spouse.

Take care of yourself just as you take care of your child.

If you wouldn’t let your child skip a meal, then you don’t skip one either.

If you make him get plenty of sleep, make yourself rest too.

A rested and healthy man or woman is a much more pleasant person to be around.

5. Choose your spouse every day.

It’s so easy to get selfish in a marriage. To think about the things you need from your spouse and the things he or she is not doing for you.

It’s a whole lot harder to put your spouse’s needs first. To think instead about what you can do for him and how you can meet his needs.

For me, it’s a choice I have to make every single day. I have to choose to be selfless.

6. Appreciate the things your spouse does for you.

Once you’ve been married for a few years, you tend to stop appreciating some of little things your spouse does for you. Whereas before you would shower him with praise for filling your car with gasoline, now you don’t even notice. Or worse, you expect it and then become angry when he forgets.

Take a few moments each day and thank your spouse for the things he or she has done for you.

Did he go to work? Thank him for it.

Did he pick up the kids from school? Thank him for it.

Did she make dinner? Thank her for it.

Did she bring home a pizza? Be appreciative.

Start making an effort to notice the kind actions of your spouse.

7. Put your spouse above your kids.

As a stay-at-home mom, my kids are my world. Outside of writing and church activities, there are very few things I do that don’t have something to do with my kids. (And honestly, even my writing is about them a lot!)

But my husband should know—and so should my kids—that he is my priority. After God, he is the number one man in my life. My two boys come after him.

It’s not because I love my kids any less. In fact, it’s because I love them so much that I put my marriage first.

There is no better gift a parent can give their child than the gift of a solid marriage.

So let’s talk: How do you keep your marriage strong? Leave a comment to be entered to win a giftcard from Lindsey for her blog tour contest!  And Link up the URL of a marriage post to today’s Wifey Wednesday, and get some traffic back to your blog!

This post is part of a Lindsey’s blog tour for Searching for Sanity, her new parenting devotional. You can read other posts in this tour by going to her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com.

17648166-18785009-thumbnailAbout Lindsey Bell:

Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity, a new parenting devotional. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. Find her at her blog, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.


About Searching for Sanity:

Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past. In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.

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  1. I would putting your spouse above your kids (or at least, making your marriage a top priority), should be at the top of the list. If you don’t, you’re actually harming your children. We have so many studies and tons of research showing that parents who love each other are on the of the foundations of a well rounded, successful person. We see so many families torn apart by divorce because one or both spouses failed to do this, and the long term effects on a child of divorce are staggering: less income as an adult, lower levels of education reached, higher chance of divorce in their own marriages, less change of overall happiness and contentment with life. If you are putting your kids first, then you are playing a short game. In the end, you will have harmed them more than helped.
    Jay Dee – SexWithinMarriage.com recently posted…Going to bed naked survey resultsMy Profile

  2. Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Sheila! It’s an honor as always:)
    Lindsey Bell recently posted…How to Keep Your Marriage Strong-Blog Tour, Day 4My Profile

  3. ButterflyWings says:

    Go on dates? Go on holidays? We can’t even find someone to have our older daughter for a few hours so we can take our baby daughter to her specialist medical appointments that are 4 hours (each way) from where we live. And as for holidays, we have to borrow money just to drive our oldest daughter interstate to her grandparents twice a year as per the family court custody order (as grandparents here have 99% of the rights biological parents do). That’s our only holiday – accompanying her so her abusive father doesn’t try to snatch her. Sadly things like holiday cost money, and if they are to be kid free, it requires having someone to look after the kids. Our families are both interstate and even when we go back to our hometown for my older daughter, neither of our families are actually able to take care of our kids as my mother and sister are very sick and my husband’s sisters (who live with his parents) are very sick. And no one where we live could take our kids for even a single date night. We were lucky that we had our younger daughter in our hometown and my husband’s sisters were away so his parents could look after our older daughter for a few days because we didn’t have a single person we could turn to even in a one off emergency here.

    I understand the sentiment, but sometimes people have neither the finances nor the family/friends to have dates and holidays.

    And taking care of yourself like your child isn’t always possible. I spent 6 years of my life as a single mother. The reality is during that time there were many times (even with getting food parcels and food vouchers whenever possible), there just wasn’t enough food/ money for both of us to eat. And sleep has always been a problem. My older daughter has autistic spectrum disorder and due to having an abusive biological father (one the family court kept forcing her to see until he thankfully got sick of the effort and walked away), so right up until she was 9 she would wake up every single hour without fail until daylight every single night. I tried to sleep while she was at school for a few hours, but being a single parent means here in Australia you have to work part time to get single parent welfare benefits, and of course all the times the school would call about problems due to her ASD, as well as specialist medical appointments that are only offered during business hours, means not very much at sleep at all. Add to that that my daughter also has ADHD so needs very little sleep and I have fibromyalgia and need at least 10-12 hours sleep to function like a normal person getting 6-8 hours. Even after she settled down to only waking up maybe 2-3 times during the night, it’s still not fun. and now add to that a baby who thinks 11pm to 5am is daytime and wants feeding literally every hour and screams if put down during that time, sleep isn’t easy.

    thankfully my husband understands what my older daughter doesn’t – that feeding the baby doesn’t mean the baby is the most important person in the house (which sadly I had a horrible uncle who was jealous of the time his wife was spending feeding their young kids so I’m well aware I am lucky to have a husband mature in that way), and he does know he comes first above the kids. It’s just really hard at the moment when we’re both off work (as he has really generous paternity leave and also has accessed annual and personal leave) that I’m doing 16-18 hours a day of the baby looking after and 75% of the housework and 95% of the trying to pack up our house to move into storage. I constantly thank for him what he does, but he never thanks me – he just acts like I’m the wife and he is the worker so therefore it’s my job. But the reality is, he’s NOT the worker at this time. In two months he has worked 2 days. And during my pregnancy, because I was working 3 days, even though I started maternity leave at 31 weeks pregnant, even thought he has a five day a week job, he panicked about the idea of having a baby and pretty much stopped working, so even though I had severe antenatal depression and was having constant panic attacks at work, as well as very very physically sick (to the point of ending up in hospital several times), I still was doing more than half the housework and 90% of looking after our older daughter and 99% of the trying to get things to storage before baby was born. Yet every single thing he did, I would thank him for, even making a big deal to thank him for going to work even though I was working more despite very sick and in a lot of pain.

    I don’t regret doing it, but I am so exhausted and in so much pain and so sick… how can I get him to pick up some slack and to notice how much I am doing and that if he’s not working, that it’s only fair he do half the house work and childcare.

    • i feel for you. My oldest is autistic too. I have five children and had to single parent on weekdays for nine months not too long ago and I totally understand how hard it is. It’s not something I want to repeat, that’s for sure! We do a lot of “date nights” by just connecting and snuggling on the couch when the kids are in bed or, more often, when they’re busy doing something else. Including watching a movie… Nothing wrong with a little electronic babysitting for short times.

      But, to get your husband to help out some more might I suggest something? Stop working so hard yourself. Let the chores slide for a while and ask for help with the basics. Will your house start to fall apart? Yes. Odds are, his ideas of clean and essential chores will be different from your own. But, you need your rest and you need time to recuperate! And that is more important than a clean house. Make a list, together is best but on your own if necessary, of the essentials. What and when the bills need to be paid, what the absolute essentials are for housekeeping, etc. Then, cut back on that list even more. Have bills paid automatically from your chequing account as much as possible. Cut back on the housework. And let your husband deal with the crying baby. And can he take your oldest to her appointments? As long as he isn’t abusive, he WILL deal with the crying baby when he sees that you’re not.

      I don’t mean to turn into a total slacker of course. And don’t neglect your children, if you see that the baby isn’t getting fed enough, by all means, step in. And if your autistic child is a wanderer and can’t be trusted to let you sleep, crawl into bed with her. Broken sleep is better than no sleep at all. But the dirt isn’t going anywhere and won’t kill you. My mom had a saying on our kitchen wall, “My house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”

      As far as packing up the house, can your oldest help at all? And, if not, can anyone else? I hope that you get the help you need and that things improve for you soon.
      Susan recently posted…Chesterton on Poets vs. LogiciansMy Profile

      • Susan, these are great suggestions. I completely agree with the “after you put the kids to bed” date nights. My husband and I do that often because we too live on a tight budget as a single income family. So at 8:00, when the kids go to bed, we hang out together at home.

        I also love your point about letting some of the dirt remain. Our homes don’t have to be perfect and it’s much more important to get some rest or to spend time with your spouse than to have a perfectly clean home.
        Lindsey Bell recently posted…How to Keep Your Marriage Strong-Blog Tour, Day 4My Profile

    • I can certainly understand why my suggestions would be frustrating to you. You are definitely in a difficult situation, and I by no means meant to offend. Not all of these tips are doable for every family. I recognize that. The thing is, you have to do what you can to make your marriage a priority. If you can’t go out on dates, that doesn’t mean you can’t have date nights at home after the children go to bed. If you can’t take trips together, then that’s okay. Hopefully sometime in the future you will be able to if you plan way in advance and start saving now. Make the most of your situation and learn to connect with your spouse even when it’s difficult. Sleep is a hard one for me too, and I know you can’t always control it. But you can do your best to take care of yourself. The point is not that we must do ALL of these things to have a healthy marriage; the point is that we need to do something. Marriage needs to be a priority. Unfortunately, if we’re not intentionally aiming to strengthen our marriages, they will slowly grow cold. We don’t drift together. We drift apart.
      Lindsey Bell recently posted…How to Keep Your Marriage Strong-Blog Tour, Day 4My Profile

  4. Thanks for this post. We had a honeymoon baby so we basically never had just “us” in the marriage. I sometimes wonder how much our first year was affected by pregnancy hormones (among other stresses). Marriage is harder when there are little ones involved too, but I think in the excitement of baby we tend not to realize that. :) These are great tips.
    Bonnie Way recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Lily’s Self-PortraitMy Profile

    • We had our first child after five years of “just us” time. And though I am thankful for those years, it was also a HUGE adjustment going from so much “us time” to very little “us time” once the baby came. I at times have wondered if it would have been an easier adjustment to have a baby immediately after we married. I guess it’s an adjustment whenever baby comes, right? :)
      Lindsey Bell recently posted…How to Have a Whine-Free Home, Blog Tour-Day 7My Profile

  5. My husband and I date with “going to the movies” after the kids go to sleep. We put a grown up movie on the laptop and enjoy some alone time. It gives us something a little more adult to talk about, too, when we are exhausted in the morning from all the late night feedings.
    Christie Martin @ Garden of Holiness recently posted…2 Quick Cures for Your Moody MarriageMy Profile

  6. Mommaoffourbabies says:

    I have a request. Could you make an article about how to talk to your spouse about sex, masturbation and intimacy? How to have a real honest talk about it in marriage and feel comfortable. I don’t know how to tell him my needs, fears and things like that because I’m afraid he will yell, cut me down or shut me out. We have this road block where we have a difficult to impossible time talking about it even when things are going bad and we really should and honestly, I’m afraid one of us is going to have an affair if he isn’t already.

  7. Thank you for sharing! I/We need to start doing these things! We have 5 children, we each work a full time job and I also work a part time job… Finding time to keep ‘us’ is sooo difficult!

  8. So true. If we are not intentionally working to strengthen our marriage we run the risk of drifting apart.

  9. Jackie Tessnair says:

    Thanks for sharing…

  10. Do you recommend a good personality test? I love that idea about taking such a test as a couple :) to get to know each other’s needs better :)

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  2. […] Day 4 of the Searching for Sanity Blog Tour! Here’s a sneak peek at the post I have today on To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. (Don’t forget to visit her blog and leave a comment on my post there to be entered to win a […]

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