There Is No Such Thing As Childproofing A Relationship Before A Baby

shutterstock_177034757Some relationship experts claim that it’s possible to childproof your relationship before you have a kid. I disagree. While I 100% agree that it is important to have a solid relationship before you ever think about a baby, I don’t think that there’s any way to prepare yourself for the Baby Boot Camp that is to come.

If your relationship sucks or has some major issues that need tending to, those problems are not going to get any better after you have kids. Anyone with small children can agree that babies highlight your insecurities and inadequacies, both personally and in your relationship.

Relationship “childproofing” experts encourage couples to focus on themselves before having a baby. While that in itself is a no-brainer for a healthy union, other baby-proofing tips include having a healthy sex life, relationship balance, and support system before you even think about children.

I wouldn’t disagree that all of these factors are helpful to create a strong foundation for a relationship. But I would call this basic life-proofing instead of child-proofing. Children are going to change your relationship completely, along with any other curveball life throws your way—death, unemployment, medical issues, moving, and general disagreements within a marriage.

I am no relationship expert, but I don’t think you can plan for how a child will change a relationship. You can only hope that the time you spent growing as a couple before children gave you the roots you need to make it through a few turbulent years. That is not to say that having children is the worst thing that will ever happen to your marriage—but if you don’t handle stress well as a couple, the dynamic will only worsen when you can’t get a crying baby to shut up at night.

Kids are stressful, and they change a marriage, but I believe it can be for the better. My husband and I have been forced to figure out how to share, co-parent, and communicate about every mundane detail—down to the brand of diapers we buy. On the very worst days, when both kids are screaming in tandem and won’t shut up, I always tell my husband this, as cheesy as it sounds: If I’m going to have a terrible day, there’s no one I’d rather share it with than you. And then I go back to bickering with my husband and praying the endless tantrums will stop.

(Image: Creativa/Shutterstock)

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  • Robotic Socks

    Best stock photo EVER!

    “Make my sammich or else I’ll pillow slap you!”

    • shadow guest

      yeah wtf is that photo? looks like all sorts of abuse going on

    • guest

      with baby awkwardly photoshopped there, lol

  • Ellen

    So true. Kids wreak havoc on even the best of relationships. I had known hubby for 13 years before kids, married for 6. And I can say we were/are STILL tested in ways that we never thought possible and are seeing sides of each other we never knew existed since having kids. There is no baby-proofing a relationship. However, I will agree that these folks who rush into having the babies before even fully knowing each other are def at high risk for more trouble. For sure!

  • Missy

    “If I’m going to have a terrible day, there’s no one I’d rather share it with than you.” I am SO happy that I can say this to my husband right now. We have been together for 10.5 years, married for 6 (and a half, by the time the parasite shows). I am excited about the changes that will come with raising a child, and I know I picked the right guy to do it with. :D We don’t feel like we got to focus too much on ourselves during our relationship (it’s been financially rocky up until the past couple years), but we are also super excited to now include our son in our life plans. :D

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is great to hear!

  • Andrea

    LOL, having a kid is a massive adjustment under the BEST of circumstances. While I agree you should be pretty solid before you even consider having a kid, I am not sure that even that can help you with the adjustment. At least not 100%.

    But the thing is, this advice is kinda crappy anyways. Some of us get pregnant before we are 100% ready and there’s not much we can do about it. We had some rough years and I agree they could have been avoided if, oh I don’t know, I had had an abortion I suppose. But the baby came and we had to learn how to deal with it and each other.

  • Kay_Sue

    I am whole-heartedly seconding the “life-proofing” concept. Kids aren’t the only rocky situation relationships encounter–it’s kind of dismissive of issues that face childfree couples to think so, I think. Having children can be incredibly stressful, but so can a myriad of situations. Maintaining a relationship through any of them is a challenge.

    • OhHeyDelilah

      Absolutely – there are so many situations that can bring stress into a relationship, and while I don’t doubt that kids are a significant one, there are a lot of things that have the potential to shake a partnership to its core. My partner’s father died really suddenly very early on in our relationship. I had to learn so much about my partner in a really short space of time to help him manage his grief, and it really changed the dynamic between us in terms of how we valued and related to one another. In a weird way, though it was a really horrible time, we both look back on that period as being the making of us as a couple … we have our first kid due in two weeks, and I am really interested to see how much of our earlier experience translates into the experience of becoming parents together … I’m hoping it will have taught us a lot about managing stress, prioritising one another even when things are hard … I guess we’ll see!

  • jendra_berri

    I would think baby proofing a relationship would be more along the lines of having the annoying conversations and hostile discussions about parenting styles and beliefs, laying all those cards out on the table so that you have a point of reference to draw from– BEFORE having the baby.
    But even then someone can change their mind. But still, better than going in blind and having these talks for the first time whilst being sleep deprived.

    • SunnyD847

      After having my first daughter, I realized I did not want to go back to work. I had never even considered being a SAHM. Everything we thought about our life with kids changed. You never know until you know, you know?

  • Melissa

    Probably nothing can prepare you for the stress that having a baby will put on your relationship, even if you know each other really well and think you see completely eye-to-eye on parenting decisions. For example, you have no way of truly knowing where you stand on sleep training until your colicky baby screams for hours on end every night and no advice from any book works and you’ve never been so desperate for sleep in your entire life. But I so love your statement about having no one you’d rather share a terrible day with–sometimes that’s all you can do or say and then hope tomorrow gets better, knowing you’ll face it together!

  • AlexMMR

    I always knew my husband loved me, but I didn’t fully understand just how much until I watched him practically kill himself to take care of me and our newborn twin girls when I was in such a bad place from PPD. He moved the monitor to his side of the bed, gave me earplugs, and sacrificed all of his own sleep tending to the girls at night on his own as much as he was able to so I could get some sleep to help ease the PPD. He texted me when he was on his way home from work so I could know when he’d walk in the door and when he did, he would say “Should I feed you or the babies?” and then get to work on getting us fed without so much as touching his butt to a seat first.

    Having twins was hell, but seeing someone walk through fire for me, our relationship deepened in ways too profound to put into words.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Wow, he sounds like an amazing guy!

  • chickadee

    My mother told me that whatever problems you might be having, babies will always exacerbate them. So. very. true.

  • rebecca eckler

    Love this! People who think that a baby will improve their relationships are really in for an eye-opener! Also, I’ve always said if you can get past the first three years of having a baby together and still happy, you are in for a very long and happy relationship!

    • Bethany Ramos

      We are so close, but so far!! ;)

    • SDM14

      My doctor (who is in her early thirties and has two kids under three) said to me the other day that she always thought that people who divorced while their kids were young just didn’t have their sh*t together and had kids to try to save their marriages. Now she admits she had NO idea how much kids test a relationship until she lived it.