Before my husband and I had our three children, we frequently went out to dinner, slept late on weekends, went to the movies, and were free to have sex whenever the mood struck us.
We were married for almost six years before our first child was born, and we thought we had a good thing going. Joe learned to find my habit of loving a particular food until I decided, without warning and usually after he bought a month’s supply of it, that I would never eat it again, somewhat charming. Likewise I learned to endure, his need to set the alarm clock for an hour earlier than he ever got up.
We felt our relationship was tested and strong. We thought we were close.
We were fools.
People may tell you that having kids will put stress on a marriage. And they are not wrong, it does. But after 23 years of (mostly) wedded bliss, I have learned that sometimes it’s all in the way we look at things.
Here are five ways that having children has strengthened our marriage. They may not be the ways you might think.
- Love it or hate it, once you have kids you never will never lack a topic of conversation. There is always something to talk about. Whether it is the epic mess junior made in the living room or the newest project that he has to bring into school on Monday made out of three pinecones, a milk container, and glue, or where the heck are Max and Ruby’s parents, there is always a topic to discuss.
- You will never take sex for granted again. The days when you and your spouse could just decide you needed each other are gone. Kaput. A distant memory. Now you will need to not only schedule time for each other, you may actually have to sneak into the laundry room for a quickie. This could explain why I now get turned on by the scent of dryer sheets. There is something very sweet about making time for each other.
- Boredom is a thing of the past. Your life will be filled to the brim with excitement. Late night trips to the ER with a sick kid, frantically searching for a lost ballet slipper before the big recital, or trying to find the family hamster that made a break for it are just a few things that have kept the thrill alive for us. Peace and calm are highly overrated and do little for deep bonding.
- There will come a time – it’s usually when at least one of your kids becomes a teenager or you have the nerve to serve veggie pasta – that you will need somebody in your house that actually likes you. These are the times where you will be grateful that there is a person who vowed to love you for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and especially in our case, a 17-year-old’s term paper.
- When you have a newborn with colic or a toddler who requires potty training, it can seem like the trials and tribulations of parenthood are endless. But time really does fly. I honestly can’t believe our first child has only one more year until he begins college. It’s awfully nice to have another person who has shared these memories with you and can remind you that no, you were not dreaming, you really did spend the whole first year of his life sitting in the backseat of the car because you were both worried that since he was in a rear facing car seat he would feel lonely.