Keeping A Relationship Alive After Kids Is Exhausting
I love my husband, I really do. But taking care of two small children takes so much of our time and energy that it’s really easy for our relationship to slip to the bottom of the priorities list. They say the first year of marriage is the hardest, but for me, it’s the first few years after having a baby that will really test the limits of your relationship.
Before we had kids, my husband and I were one of those annoying couples that didn’t like spending long periods of time away from each other. We had weekly date nights and spent evenings snuggled on the couch or taking long walks on the beach. Sometimes my husband would even drop me off and pick me up from work so that we’d get an extra half hour together. It’s not that we were codependent– we’re perfectly capable of being on our own, it’s just that we really enjoyed talking to each other. And then we had kids.
The first seven months of our twins’ lives are nothing but a blur to me now. I vaguely remember my husband and I getting up together every two hours during the night to do feedings and the occasional family nap but other than that I can’t recall a single conversation that wasn’t about the babies. I expected our focus to shift to the children for the first few months, but as our kids started sleeping for longer periods and we were no longer quite so sleep deprived, I thought that my husband and I would naturally reestablish our old relationship.
But maintaining a happy marriage has proven to be a lot more work than it was before we became parents. Our kids sleep through the night now, but we are often so tired at the end of the day from potty training, cooking and cleaning and just generally trying to keep the boys from killing themselves that the most we manage to do together is fall asleep watching television. “Adult time” as we refer to activities of a sexual nature is something that we sometimes have to plan for, and even then there are times when the siren call of sweet, sweet sleep wins out.
Chatting about our day is more difficult now. Our children are toddlers, prone to tantrums over sharing toys and random joyful shrieking between the hours of five and seven pm. If we want to hear about each other’s day, we have to really work for it– speaking in short bursts between the noise or sometimes even text messaging each other from across the room.
We’ve never been a very physically affectionate couple, especially in public, but we were always up for a hug or a kiss here or there. But with the kids constantly demanding that I pick them up or wanting to sit our laps, when the opportunity to show each other some sugar presents itself, sometimes I’d rather not be touched.
Romance and love look different to me as a parent. We show each other love in new ways like cleaning the litter box or not nagging the other about putting away their laundry that’s been sitting folded in the basket for three days. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things more and try to show my love in ways that will make my husband’s day a little bit easier, and he does the same for me.
I always knew being a parent would be hard work, but I didn’t expect that becoming a mom would change how I acted as a partner to my husband. But just like parenting, I know we’re in this together.