My 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!
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.
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.