Married with Young Kids
Once Upon A Time….
You fall madly in love.
You get married.
You plan your futures.
You have kids.
Your family is now complete and lives happily ever after.
That’s how the storyline is supposed to go, right? That’s what we are fed in books and movies. This is the fairytale that we learn as young children and hold on to, at least to some extent, as we grow older.
There are 4 distinct times that I know I considering leaving my marriage. Once when I was nearing the end of my first pregnancy. Once when Emerson was just a couple of months old.. Once when I was 39 weeks pregnant with Sage. Once when she was 2 months old.
See a pattern here?
Let me cut to the chase- kids can make marriage really tough.
Not quite a fairytale.
Before kids I always heard about how “Seeing your husband as a dad will make you fall more in love with him!” Yeah, I mean, that’s true, but you know what’s also true? Adding kids to the family makes you doubt yourself, your partner, your relationship and more.
Being entrusted to keep tiny humans alive without an owner’s manual…
These things take a toll on you. And when it takes a toll on both you and your partner, chances are your communication isn’t as graceful, your nights aren’t as snuggly (or intimate) and even your well-intentioned actions aren’t as happily received.
Before kids, I would have described our marriage as a collaborative dream and adventure partnership. Currently I would describe it as a business transaction with a little flirting in the back office on a good day.
There’s so much shit to get done. These tiny humans, they double the amount of work-mentally, physically and emotionally- exponentially. We have to be extra vigilant about the calendar, the food prep, the laundry… we are constantly working on feedings, bathings, or cleaning up from one of the two. Our brains- they’re trying to remember what time the baby woke up and what day the next doctor’s appointment is. Other than that, they feel fried.
When we both feel “off” you can hear us comparing who got LESS sleep, who spent more time cleaning, who the toddler ran all the energy out of, etc. While momma is feeling touched out and insecure in her new body, dad is feeling completely unnoticed and undervalued.
Hard? Yes. Normal? Probably.
Chances are in this stage, you don’t hate your partner, you just feel distant. You feel unseen while also feeling out of energy to see your partner. You’re pouring into the lives of little humans who NEED you to survive and it causes you to put less energy into your partner who can (most likey) survive on his/her own. The little extra things you used to do, they are probably not in the forefront of your mind right now. You probably aren’t spending as much time out of the house and with your friends, so you feel even more isolated and irritable.
Do I hate my husband? No. Will this last forever? Probably not. Are these days and nights hard? Hell yes. Are you going to make it through? You are. We are all engaging something totally new together and we need one another to make it work but we don’t even know how to take the next step sometimes. Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. Marriage while parenting is really hard.
I’m not a therapist. I’m no marriage expert. I don’t have anything extravagant to offer. What I can offer you is this- when you feel like marriage gets hard with kids, you’re not alone. When it feels overwhelming and you can’t believe you thought the thoughts you said you’d never think… you’re not alone. When it’s the middle of the night and you’re crying wondering why you feel so alone in a room with your best friend, you’re heard. When you feel guilty because marriage and parenthood are supposed to be the two best things in your life and yet you don’t feel blissful… I got you, friend. There’s more of us than we know because these are feelings we often fly under the radar. I’m team “preserve marriage, invest in marriage and enjoy marriage,” but I’m also team “marriage is really hard and we need more safe spaces to talk about that.”