Monday, March 1, 2010

Love after kids.

We attended a pre-natal class before Matthew was born. You know, the one where you sit in a room with a group of other nervous pregnant couples, eager to learn everything you can about babies and how to keep them alive. Every week we sat through hours of classes on how to swaddle, how to apply diaper cream, how to breastfeed, and a ridiculous video from the eighties with a woman labouring in the shower while her husband sung "she'll be coming round the mountain when she comes!" (seriously wanted to wallop that guy).

They covered everything, except for one thing: how kids change your relationship. And forgive me, but that's a pretty big thing to skip over.

J and I have been together for 9 years - 6 of them married, 3 with children. It's hard to recall those early days - the ones where our relationship was just about us. The days when we'd take off on an impromptu date, or lie in bed til 11 on the weekend, or wander around an art gallery as though time was not an issue, sometimes seem so far away I almost wonder if I'd imagined them.

We could never have anticipated the number of changes our relationship would face after we had kids. Between sleep deprivation, and raising two small kids, and working, and studying, and little time alone - it's hard. Truly hard. But one thing of the best things we have going for us, is the desire to keep working at it.

That's why I think they should talk about it in these classes - to prepare couples.

I'm not suggesting they should scare them. (Hey you - you two over there with the gooey eyes. Listen up lovers, things are about to change. This sweet lovey-dovey thing you've got going on here is about to take a back seat for a while. You're going to be tired and cranky and emotional. Your wife's hair is going to fall out and her hands and feet are going to get bigger. Her stomach will resemble a bowl of custard and she'll develop maneuvers like an Olympian to dive into bed and under the covers before you see anything. And that's if either of you have the energy for sex. Because let's face it, the greedy goblins will have eaten up all that's left of your reserves long before the sweet nothings are whispered.)

I'm totally not saying they should do that.

But perhaps they could offer some helpful suggestions.

These would be my ideas.

Time alone. Line up grandparents and friends, find a babysitter - do whatever you need to but make sure you get a break together after the baby is born. Often. You'll probably spend the entire time talking about the baby but at least you'll get a break and some perspective.

Sex. Don't worry - no one wants to have sex right after they've had a baby. Give yourself some time. But then, when you're ready, get the sex back. In whatever capacity you can manage it - a quickie while the kids nap or a marathon in the evening. But make sure you get it back. You still need it. End.

Communication. People irritate each other. They do things their other half doesn't want them to. Or they forget things. Or they prioritize the wrong things. Or, sometimes, they'll just suck, basically. But, there's a small, simple secret that can save everything. TALKING. I swear, talking will solve most of your problems, as long as you do it, often.

Romance. An unexpected love note snuck into a pocket. A cup of tea delivered to your other half while they're enjoying a much needed lie-in. A new playlist on an i-pod. A surprise date. A tongue in the ear. Okay maybe not a tongue in the ear. Gross.

Gifts. Yes, okay, they're are not essential, but I like them. Who doesn't like presents? They're a gesture, and they show you think about your other half. And if, like me, your other half is easy to please - even a bar of chocolate will do! Bonus!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on what keeps a relationship alive after kids. What are your secrets?
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57 comments:

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

This is a fantastic post - and so bang on. Its the stuff that NO ONE Talks about that affects you the most. Why isn't that in any of the damn baby books???

Kristen said...

Love this. After our son was born my husband and I went through a real rough patch. Sure people told us "kids change things" but that's all anyone says. They don't tell what to or how to make sure you're still a strong couple after having a kid. It took one appointment with a (bad) marriage counselor before we started taking time for ourselves, even if it was just sitting on the couch together watching a movie or playing a board game while the kid is asleep. Also rediscovering our sex life was a big help :-)

Mwa said...

YES! Hear, hear.

We have date night, and the odd day when my husband stays home from work and we send the kids off to various places. Time alone is crucial.

lz said...

I think you summed it up well. The first year, especially, is so stressful. I know I didn't think Joe was helping enough (looking back, he SO was) and he thought I expected too much. You just have to communicate. And spend time alone, too. Without kids or spouse.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

My advice: Try hard to not bash your spouse to other people. No matter how badly he messes up or she ignores you, do NOT bash each other - TALK TO EACH OTHER. And listen when the other person tells you "Hey, this thing about you is kind of sucky..." And try hard to not get defensive...

Lady Mama said...

Maria - I know - it isn't and it should be.

Kristen - yes, even little things like spending time together can make all the difference. Glad you were able to work things out.

Mwa - It really is!

LZ - yes, communication is vital. And alone time so important too.

Tracey - agreed!

..... Carmen said...

I think perhaps you should send out this post to the Calgary Health Region and they could incorporate it into their classes. I agree with you on every point. One of the most romantic things Nate did for me after A was born, was to bring me a caramel macchiato the first morning we were home from the hospital. It meant so much more than a coffee - that he loved me, was proud of me, was glad to have me home, but mostly that he was and is in LOVE with me. It's all the little things that add up to something big and keep your relationship ticking.

Cheryl said...

Hi! Here from SITS!

Very true words (we're on kid #3) and it's hard to make finding time alone together a priority! Thanks for the reminder!

DRB said...

Excellent advice.

When people aren't expecting changes in their marriage after a baby comes along, I think their expectations of their relationship aren't realistic anymore.

Great post! Happy SITS day :)

Danie

Niks La Mode. said...

I am over from SITS! this is a fab fab post!!! & I agree with everything 18 months later with twins am working on EVERYTHING on this list!!

Abigail said...

I think that's great advice for any couple, with or without kids. Even those of us without children can sometimes get so caught up in day-to-day life we can start to forget about the little things that keep a relationship strong.

Christine Macdonald said...

I'm not even a mom and I love this. :)

Jenny said...

Oh this is all so true! It needs to be told too. I have been watching some of our younger friends with their new babies lately. It's interesting to watch their vision of what parenthood would be vs. what it really is.
Your suggestions are great!
Here from SITS... happy SITS day!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Really good advice. My friend always says that her children were the best thing that ever happened to her and the worst thing that ever happened to her marriage. She says it with a laugh of course because it just means that the effortless relationship days are over (although we never had those - too intense - and now regret the time wasted arguing over such silly things when we could have been sleeping and having fun and sleeping).

Melissa aka Equidae said...

wonderful post and i completely agree....they cover up everything except maybe the most crucial

mamapoekie said...

Love the post. You are so right, no one is prepared for the changes having a child will make upon your relationship. After two years, we still haven't entirely figured it out. What really works for us is to do things with the whole family, like go swimming in the ocean with the dog and dd

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

After almost 11 years of marriage and 3 little boyz...
I feel like the #1 important thing = compromise!

(Happy SITS day!)

A New Mom said...

Truer words were never sp[oken! The one thing hubby and I do is talk....and a quickie now and then. LOL....man having a kid changes EVERYTHING! They should tell you in that class...prepare us new parents for the shock of our lives

Hanneke Nelson said...

A tonque in the ear? Have you been talking to my husband? Happy SITS Day! Much deserved.

Teresha@Marlie and Me said...

what happens to your love life after baby is something no one prepares you for. great advice!

J. L. W. said...

This is a great post! Great tips.

Dawn said...

Great post! So true!!

The Cookie Girl said...

This is a great post and I couldn't agree more that this is a topic that should be covered.
It is a challenge at times to have those special moments that as a couple without kids was easy to do and somewhat taken for granite.

Tricia said...

Awesome post, and so spot on. You're good lady!

LisaDay said...

Oh, I so wanted to say that to a couple of ... couples ... in our pre-natal class.

Your advice is great and we do need to take more time. Thank you for your reminder.

Happy SITS day.

LisaDay

Mandy P said...

You are spot on with your suggestions for new parents. EVERYTHING changes after baby-especially if you have two or more close together. Great post!

As far as me offering additional insight...once we've figured it out, I'll let you know!

Tina Lane said...

Happy SITS day and thank you for this post. I often wonder why we don't talk about these issues frankly. I think we all could use the help.

Elaine A. said...

We do most of the things you suggested. Including the tongue in the ear. ;-P

And we had a communication issue a couple of weeks ago that caused a little problem in the S.E.X department. Needless to say we were both MUCH happier when it got resolved! Communication is KEY.

I got all dreamy when you were talking about the time before kids when we used to sleep in and do whatever.... don't do that to me again, okay??? ;)

MommaKiss said...

Another thing - that I'm glad someone actually did share with me - is that you may not always *like* your kid. You will love them deeply and to the core, but some days - after much crying and pooping and eating - you may just look at that lil ball of pink skin and think "i don't like you." I felt it. And didn't feel bad, because i was prepared. and then? He giggled and all was forgiven...

Larissa said...

Happy SITS day! This is an awesome post, one that I wish I would have read long before my kids came along. The first year of my son's life were rough on our marriage. Many-a-day did I look at my hubby and think "I cannot believe I chose to spend my life with you." Thankfully, after MUCH communication, we are back on the same page and I'm glad I chose him.
The only thing that I would add is that we all need time with our girlfriends...being away from my hubby and the kids, and laughing with my friends, is essential to my survival!

Megan said...

Though I'm neither married nor have kids, I can tell you know what you're talking about! Thanks for sharing such good advice.

Just One Week said...

I really appreciated this post. My husband and I are preparing to get pregnant. We would have liked to start trying this fall, but due to both of our careers, we will not start trying until Oct 2010, and we can't wait! But we regularly have to remind each other to enjoy the "now" because we will miss these days. Happy SITS day!

Kelly at Home said...

Oh girl, this post is spot-on! A bar of chocolate candy definitely cure most of my life's ills, though. I'm glad hubby knows that. :o)

Happy SITS day!

Aleta said...

What an excellent post! You're right, these things SHOULD be discussed as part of the preparations during a pregnancy!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you are addressing the fact that life changes SO much after having kids. My husband and I talk about this together all the time. I really miss all the time alone together-I definitely took it for granted. Visiting from SITSgirls :) Congrats on blog of the day!

Stephanie
www.momreviewtb.com

Zeemaid said...

I agree. Biggest thing like you said is talk, talk, talk and yes find a way to get sex back in and find time to be together... even it's just put the kids to bed and plan a special dinner or appies and play a game of scrabble or two.

Wine helps too. ;)

Chelsea said...

We haven't had kids yet (getting married in July) and everyone keeps warning us about how hard it is. *nervous*

Shana said...

We don't have kids yet, but we do have crazy, hectic schedules and it's really easy to forget about "us" and focus on other things...like work. I think these are great suggestions for anyone. Except the tongue in the ear thing...that's not a good suggestion for anyone!

Shana said...

We don't have kids yet, but we do have crazy, hectic schedules and it's really easy to forget about "us" and focus on other things...like work. I think these are great suggestions for anyone. Except the tongue in the ear thing...that's not a good suggestion for anyone!

Shana said...

We don't have kids yet, but we do have crazy, hectic schedules and it's really easy to forget about "us" and focus on other things...like work. I think these are great suggestions for anyone. Except the tongue in the ear thing...that's not a good suggestion for anyone!

Erin said...

Came over from SITS. I laughed so hard at the tongue in the ear thing. I finally had to tell my husband that no that was not my idea of romantic so knock it off! Very good advice!

Cindy said...

I wish I could give some advice but after the baby,,,no sex for a loooooonnnnnggggg time. totally was not in the mood for it

Supermanslady said...

Wise words! Yep! Wish someone would have warned us of all the variables of giving birth and a growing family! :-) Although ours had kids from previous relationships...none of them were with us for the first year and a half...when ours was born...big changes!

Check my blog out if you get a chance!
http://supermanslady.blogspot.com/

A Forest Frolic said...

Amen SITSta ;) I like your post...we have three girls and have been together for 11 years, but we still have it, tee hee.

Jamie :)

Jesslyn said...

I second your tip to get the sex back! It's essential to helping you feel like a wife and woman again when "tired exhausted Mommy" is what you see and feel like the most.
Hubby and I also hold hands a lot. Since our hands are so often full of babies and their gear, it's nice to hold each others hand in the car, in a movie, whenever we don't have to hold kids!

Tortuga said...

Your suggestions are awesome! I know exactly what you mean about those prenatals not doing the relationship part of things. Your suggestions for a healthy marriage work no matter what age the kids are. Mine are 11 and 10 and we still do some of those things just to regain our sanity as a couple.

Heather B said...

Congrats on your SITS day!!!!!!! Thanks for letting me stop by.

I have 4 kids. The first year is the hardest, you can't get ready in the morning, you have 0 time for yourself, and forget about giving time to ANOTHER PERSON! But, if you want that relationship to grow with your hubby (like I assume you do) you have to decide to do it.

We would put the kids to bed early every single night. That was our time. I would make special treats, we would watch a movie or take a bath/shower together. It got us through that first year of endless baby at your boob!

Marriage is hard enough, let alone throw in a baby. But, the baby does grow more independent and it does get easier to leave them with a sitter. It does get better, I promise!!! =)

Good luck and thanks again for letting me stop by. I will probably become a regular!

Kassie said...

I think the biggest one is making time for each other. An early bedtime for the baby is important too. A lot of my friend's babies go to bed when the parents do. When is your alone time??

Babes about Town said...

This post is spot on. But there's so much they don't actually tell you before birth. Like that breastfeeding was going to HURT at first!

And there's stuff that nobody can tell you, you simply have to live it and figure it out as you go along. It definitely sounds like you're on the right track.

Aside from what you've listed, I think one of the best pieces of advice is to pick your battles - and that goes for your child as well as your partner. Happy SITS day by the way :-)

samsstuff said...

Excellent post! There are so many things they should tell you (like your feet swell & may not ever go back to being the same size) & they never do. Thanks for sharing so many of those things here!
My son is no longer a baby, but I remember how much of this was true.

Happy SITS feature day!

Leaza in Denver said...

Fun blog! I'm still in my flirty30s...hopefully someday I'll be a hot flirty Moma like you. Congrats on your big day.

Kim said...

hubby pitched a tent in the living room the other evening and put on our "fireplace dvd" (don't ask)
so romantic- I giggled like a little school girl!

Christine said...

I think the most important thing for parents to be to know is that things WILL change. There is no way to shelter your relationship from it and if you recognize it and account for it, the effects might not be so hard.

Great post! Good lessons.

Christa said...

Happy SITS day to you! I love this post because it's completely true. Relationships have no choice but to change after kids and only the strong survive!!

Michelle said...

It is definitely completely different! My sister is getting married in 2 weeks and says they want to have kids in the next year or two. I told her she should wait. Once you make the plunge you can never go back (and she is only 25 so she was plenty of time).

Kekibird said...

You are right. They don't cover that. I remember those classes and how my friends (I was the single mommy in the classes but I had friends who were there as a couple) were all giddy about baby. Then baby came and it was tough, tough on them and relationship. It's a good idea to have an honest to goodness parenting class with a relationship counseling component involved.

Luschka said...

As everyone else has said - this is so spot on. And I think we all feel it, and we probably all feel quite guilty about it too. I wonder how many of us sit in mom's groups and think that we're the only ones not doing so well? I know my hubby and I never really used to argue or fight, now we seem to almost constantly be in the middle of some niggle or other. And I'm so desperate for 'me' time that by the time my daughter goes to sleep the last thing I want is to give up my hour or two to now be a wife TOO. But it has to happen. And its frightening how easy it is to let it slide.

Great post. Thanks for letting me know we're not alone.