I have had two children in two years and the pure exhaustion and emotions are unlike anything I’ve witnessed before. I’m grateful to be happily married through all the twists and turns parenthood brings, the key word being “happily”. The more parents I talk to, the more I see just how hard it is to stay connected to your spouse when you feel like you’re constantly running on low and pushed to your limits’ limits.
The first time around challenged our relationship, but thankfully the second time has been much more pleasant. I’m not a relationship therapist (though I have worked for some) so I am only sharing from personal experience, but here are three things I’ve learned to do in order to maintain a healthy and happy relationship and stay connected to your spouse during these trying but wonderful “early years”.
I know it feels like you have no spare time and that you are absolutely exhausted and/or stressed. But make time for each other! You don’t have to go on a date every week. Just find the space to talk to each other and laugh together. You can talk in the car, while you frantically pick up the house and wash dishes after the kids go to bed, or even call each other on the phone during your morning or evening commutes.
Stay in communication, laugh at stupid things together (have a sense of humor in general!), be open and vulnerable about your needs, and be affectionate.3 Tips To Stay Connected To Your Spouse After Kids Click To Tweet
It’s so easy to take sides and compete for who had the harder day, who is more tired, who has done more for the family… and on and on and on. Remember: You are on the same team! Seek to listen to and build up one another. Make compromises. Share the housework load.
You are equal partners and this relationship is going to work as long as you both make the effort to walk through these crazy years hand in hand. Also, there is no shame in seeking guidance from another strong couple or from a professional if you feel like it could benefit your relationship.
Disagreements happen in any healthy relationship, and there’s even more room for head bumping when you’re stretched thin with juggling small children. I’ll admit that words can sometimes fly out of my mouth (or my fingertips via text) like spit fire. I’ve found that if I can avoid throwing words like daggers that I don’t really mean, we can mostly avoid the emotional side of arguments and get straight to discussing (and fixing) the real issues.
Examine your natural “fight or flight” tactics and choose one to try to improve. Or, here’s a bold idea- ask your spouse how they think you could be a fairer “fighter”!
These years are tough but you’re not alone- you have your best friend, the person you chose to experience all seasons of life with… including this one. You also have countless other couples who have gone before you and are in it with you, so never be afraid to reach out for help. Some books that I have loved are “And Baby Makes Three” by John Gottman and “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix. Best wishes on your journey!