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How To Be (Happily) Married With Children

2014 April 4


I had two conversations about marriage this week that stuck with me. Neither of them was planned or expected. But the important things in life often aren’t.

A few nights ago I ran into an acquaintance/new friend in the aisles of Target (we were both admittedly escaping our kids for an hour) and the conversation quickly turned to her fairly new separation from her husband of ten years and to how she and the kids were coping, how the transition was taking shape (amicably) and how their relationship had been affected – for better and for worse – by the demands that parenting (among other things, of course) put on them. She was candid and open and unapologetic about the things that had gone wrong, from both sides, and how their role as parents played into it. Because it did.

Then yesterday I went to get my hair cut and ended up chatting with my stylist who is newly married and 29 about the pressure she is feeling to have kids. You know it. The minute the walk down the aisle is done, people expect that you are walking straight into motherhood. She isn’t quite ready for it. She wants to enjoy her husband and their time as newlyweds and doesn’t feel any rush to jump to the next phase without properly appreciating this one. She wants to be free and frivolous and just have some fun as newlyweds. Stay up late, sleep in later…you remember those days.

And it got me thinking about how becoming a parent impacts your relationship.

Inevitably, it does. It will. It has.

No matter how much you read or prep or think you know how having children will change your life, your perspective and perhaps most importantly, your marriage, there is really no way to predict it. No way to anticipate how you and your partner may differ on parenting goals, values, methods until you are facing them head on. No way to know how exhaustion and hormones will alter your approach to everything. How you will find enough energy and time and passion to love everyone fully and completely…all the time.

You don’t know until you’re in it.

But once you are there, it can be beautiful. It’s what I told my hair stylist (I also told her to fully appreciate this period of sleeping in…). It can be the most amazing, incredible thing. It can take your relationship to a place you could never imagine. It can make you closer than ever before.

And I believe you can stay that way.

But it takes work. It takes patience. It takes practice. It takes mutual respect and understanding. It takes prioritization and willingness to let some things fall by the wayside while others take center stage. It takes appreciation and gratitude. It takes collaboration and support. It takes perspective. It takes stepping back and looking around every once in a while. Taking it all in, the good, the bad, the wrong and the right. And assessing it. And knowing when to bend. When to change. When to ask for change.

And most importantly, it takes communication.

I went home after that trip to Target and I talked to my husband. I talked to him about what my friend had told me. What other friends have told me. What marriage means to me. How our kids affect our relationship. How our family dynamic can be bettered. How and why and why not and what if. We talked about it all. Marriage, parenting, discipline, values, family.

We talked about it all.

And it ended up being the most important conversation I had all week.

*print above via SS Print Shop

8 Responses
  1. April 4, 2014

    I really love this, Raluca. I’m in the hairdresser boat at the moment, trying to savor my time with my husband while looking ahead to having children…both thrilled and apprehensive about taking the plunge. I know it’s personal and idiosyncratic, but I’d love to hear more about the specifics of how you maintain a healthy relationship and don’t let having children push it under the rug. I remember your “date night” post about not limiting romantic time to specific night of the week, but I’m sure there’s more to it. Thank you! 🙂

  2. elizabeth permalink
    April 4, 2014

    I feel like sometimes, all a relationship needs is a little conversation. There are so many things that can be solved if you take the time to talk them out, good or bad.

    Love this entry and the look into other women’s relationships. I always like to observe and to learn from others.

  3. Sara Klinger permalink
    April 4, 2014

    you inspire me, raluca. xo

  4. April 4, 2014

    I love this! Our firstborn arrives in 10 weeks, and although we’re both thrilled (and this baby was/is SO wanted) we’re hitting that stage where it’s like “OMG, THIS IS REAL.” So this was lovely to read today.

  5. stella permalink
    April 4, 2014

    Great post and topic. I truly had no idea what sleep deprivation/hormones would do to me and my husband and was not pretty at times. A few years have passed since that time and I am thankful that we survived it. It’s so true that by going through the babydom, we learned how to communicate and also learned when to let things be until the morning. Tough stuff and it does not surprise me that not all couples make it work. I know that we have more lessons ahead as our daughter grows up and I hope that we can continue to support each through the good the bad and ugly.

  6. April 5, 2014

    Totally agree. I hear people talk about the strain – and there is. But there can also be an incredible coming together as a team to work on this project together, in a way that is never previously… necessary, I guess. Letting each parent parent in their way and genuinely rooting for the other person, knowing they’re doing the best they can in their own way can be incredibly powerful actions that children bring into focus in a hurry.

  7. April 7, 2014

    I truly adore your blog! Your perspective is always so thoughtful. My husband and I had a similar conversation the other day and it’s true: there is a transition that takes place in your relationship when you become responsible for another life and you can’t predict how and what will change. But your relationship will change, and change is hard. We love our son so much it’s hard to not make him our whole life and focus. So we keep seeking ways to connect and communicate better and grow. It’s a challenge, but a worthy one. It’s demoralizing in a way to see others who had what appeared to be good relationships crumble under the pressure and exhaustion. But all we can do is our best and hope that we grow stronger and deepen our connections.

    • WWGD permalink*
      April 8, 2014

      Thanks so much, Cat. Appreciate you taking the time to share — and it sounds like you guys are firmly on the right path.

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