Love Vs Work: Marriage After Kids

Family + Lifestyle Relationships

By Nancy Doodnauth

Nancy is a wife and mom of 4

 The memories of quiet mornings, ironing our clothes, drinking our coffee and listening to a podcast as we get ready to take on the day are long gone. The evenings getting ready to go out for a nice quiet dinner to enjoy each other’s company are distant. They have been replaced with running, falling, crying, peeing, accidents, smearing of food etc! We also have three little princesses running around in plastic heels, putting on ballet shows, giving us glimpses of God’s pure and sweet love. Our lives are richer and have more purpose than ever! We understand love on a whole new level. Has it been hard? YES. Has it been worth it? ABSOLUTELY!! We have become better people and our marriage has become stronger than it ever was before but, not without learning the concept of love vs. work. Marriage after kids

Ryan and I have been married almost nine years. Six years ago, we were blessed with the arrival of our first little bundle of joy. Were we prepared? Sure, we had everything we needed. We read all the books, researched and made decisions on all the important things, picked a name and I left my job to stay home once the baby arrived. Everyone told us to go on as many dates as possible before the baby arrived. They told us to sleep as much as we could and they told us to go on a babymoon. We did all of it. We were ready! Excited! Marriage after kids

Welcoming a new baby into your marriage is a blessing unlike any other but it also comes with challenges many people don’t like to talk about. I’ve had a chance to discuss this with many new moms and they all point to the same issues affecting their marriage after baby: Not enough support from their partners, bad communication and increased conflict – or not being on the same page. Here’s the thing ladies! Hope is not lost! Though, the journey to come out of this parenting season with a strong, loving, God-centered marriage is a lot of work, it is ABSOLUTELY possible.

New motherhood was HARD for me. I didn’t know how to communicate my needs, I didn’t ask for help. I missed my freedom, I was emotional, tired and I used up every ounce of my energy to care for my baby – many days giving my husband only the leftovers. One day, God got a hold of me and I realized I was making everything about me. I was selfish and felt sorry for myself. God challenged me to look beyond my needs and start meeting my husband’s needs FIRST. To continue making him a priority even as I took care of my baby.

I knew my husband’s top love languages were physical touch and acts of service, so I intentionally went out of my way to do things for him without him asking and tried to be as affectionate towards him as I’d been before baby. I knew these things were important to him and so I made it a priority for me as well. In Ephesians 5, Paul compares marriage to our relationship with Jesus. Jesus laid down His life for us. In the same way God calls us to lay down our lives serving our spouse unconditionally. That was a turning point for our marriage, I started focusing on him and he focused on me (though he never stopped because he’s just amazing like that!)

The love that brought you and your partner together will not be enough to keep you ‘happily’ together. In my experience, it is the work that you are each willing to put into the relationship that will truly make the difference. Communicating when you just want to walk away, having the hard conversations, dividing up the responsibilities – that is work. Marriage after kids

Giving each other attention, and showing love the way they receive it – that is work. Supporting your partner and being there for them when you don’t understand how they feel – that is work. Asking for advice – that is hard. Praying together every day – that takes discipline and is work.My challenge to you as a new mom or mom-to-be, is to spend the same amount of time you spend preparing for a new baby, baby-proofing your marriage. Read all the books, ask all the questions, have all the conversations and talk to people who have successfully done it. Most importantly keep the lines of communication open and remain flexible. It took us a couple kids and a few years of parenthood to finally find a good rhythm and even now, we are constantly revisiting and talking through new challenges. It is an exciting time and you don’t want to miss out on the beauty that comes with seeing your husband become a dad. What an opportunity to fall deeper in love.  marriage after kids

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