Whether you got pregnant on your honeymoon or after years of marriage, the thought of welcoming a little person into your lives as husband and wife can be nerve-wracking.
When we were expecting our first child, I wondered how my marriage would change. I knew it was going to change no matter what – I just didn’t know if it’d be for the better.
Would there be any romance left? Would it be the end of our freedom? What if I turned into my mother – whose whole life was centered around her kids, and never seemed to have time for herself? I couldn’t even remember my parents ever going out on a dinner date or to a movie theatre, just the two of them alone, without us kids in tow.
“Once you have a kid, your whole life changes. A baby is the biggest test to any marriage,” a well-meaning mummy friend told me.
That wasn’t good news to me.
Both my husband and I enjoyed going out – separately or together. We loved taking long walks together, exploring new neighborhoods and restaurants, and staying out late with friends. It was how we kept our marriage fresh and exciting. We shared experiences together, talked for hours over beer and wine, and embraced spontaneous outings.
Once the baby arrived, I worried that most of this would be relegated to our “past life” – at least for some time.
I had witnessed the way other married couples with kids bickered over parenting responsibilities like whose turn it was to take over night duty, or complaining about the other person coming home too late. There was no question that they loved their kids and each other, but parenting brought forth a new set of worries and stress.
What if the sleep deprivation, my post-baby-new-mum hormones, and the overwhelming “newness” of parenting took a toll on our marriage? I expected that we’d both be preoccupied with the baby initially, but if we weren’t careful, could our marriage lose its spark over time and be put on the back burner?
Couples don’t ever plan for the passion to taper off after they become parents. But the reality is that it often “just happens.”
Perhaps it’s a good sign if you’re even worried about it happening to your marriage. Maybe the fact that you’re concerned means you’re willing to put in the effort to ensure that your marriage becomes stronger—not weaker—after you’re parents.
Here are some tips to deal with any worries about how your marriage might change after having a kid:
1. Don’t work yourself into a terrible frenzy. Accept that there will be changes no matter what. You’re bringing a new person into your family! Of course you’ll have to adapt your lifestyle and marriage. Not all change is bad, so get out of the “doomsday” mindset.
2. Focus on the happy things, like how much love you’ll feel toward your husband when you see him holding the baby you created together. Get excited about the chance to witness him assume a loving father role – a side of him you didn’t know before. Think about how you’ll soon be able to watch your husband teaching your child how to play sports and build things.
3. Make a promise and a conscious effort to keep the love alive between you and your husband. Talk about your anxieties with him. Make a plan to go on date nights as soon as the baby is old enough. Reassure each other about your growing commitment. Remember that your love for each other will continue to evolve.
By Jenny Tai