Parenthood is one of the most remarkable things that can ever happen to anyone. Being blessed with the opportunity of raising someone else as your own. As parents, we owe it to our children to have a Godly marriage to raise them up together as a team. One thing we learned during marriage counseling and while preparing for parenthood was that our marriage is our first ministry so children should not come in between us.
Balancing marriage and parenthood takes a lot of intentionality and dedication, especially in the first few years of marriage with kids. We are not just in marriage to live happy lives, we are here to show God’s glory to the world as Christians. Our marriages should show the world a glimpse of how Christ loves the church. I knew that to have kids was going to be a huge responsibility that nothing can quite prepare you for. I read so many things on preparing for Parenthood and how life would be different. So many people asked questions like “how to keep the relationship strong after having a baby” “relationship problems after having a baby” and so on.
Surviving the First years of Marriage with Kids
In these days of social media, parenting can seem to be super easy. I am guilty of this, i post pictures of my daughter singing or being a sweetheart without showing her tantrum stages. You only see the highlights, the cute family pictures, clips of the kids singing and acting all cute. What we fail to see are the 100 pictures that probably got taken before that one good shot. Or the effort it took to calm the child down before and after all that cuteness.
Becoming parents brings a lot of changes to marriage and can, in fact, become a reason why some marriages fail. Our marriage as Christians is our first ministry, then comes parenthood. I learned about life priorities from a blogger i love reading Marriedbyhisgrace. This is how i view my life priority: Christ>Wife>Mother>Ministry>Everything else. Therefore when something tries to take the position of what it should not, i have to take a step back and seek God.
Here are a few things i have learned so far in balancing marriage and raising kids.
Communicate with your spouse
Being able to communicate as a couple in marriage is one that cannot be said enough. Without proper communication, any marriage will collapse. When you think of marriage and parenthood, it becomes more important. Be open and honest with each other, do not keep things bottled up. I and hubby have a rule where we must not go to bed angry with each other. Plus, i love snuggling on him so if we are fighting i cannot do this, hence we have to settle lol. Talk out your issues together without being disrespectful to each other.
If you are very angry about something, do not bring it up in the heat of the moment. Doing this can make you say or do things you will regret. Cool off a little bit then discuss. It is perfectly fine to tell your spouse you need a few minutes before you can discuss the issue. Keep the communication lines open with each other. If your spouse feels threatened by you, they will close up and this will destroy your marriage.
When i begin to put my kids before marriage, i need to take a step back and ask God to help me. I am married first to my husband then my kids. This is often why marriages can still fail when the kids are old and gone. Then you wonder why they got divorced after 30 years of marriage. Because the kids became the priority over the marriage and they lost their marriage in the process of raising their kids. This is definitely one area i pray for God to constantly help us as a couple. It is easy to get carried away with raising the future generation that we begin to ignore one another till its too late.
This is the most important part of a successful marriage after kids. A Godly marriage is the foundation of everything else. The sole purpose of marriage is to bring Glory to God. Our marriages should help the world catch a glimpse of how Christ loves the church. Husbands are called to love their wives unconditionally and be her covering. Christ loved the church so much and gave his life for us. The same way husbands should give their lives for their wives by being committed to them. Wives are also to submit to their husbands just as the Church submits to Christ. The world should see how comfortable we are as wives to submit to our husbands and how it makes a positive impact on our marriages. Having a Godly marriage helps your children understand the foundation of your life and what is most important to you. I wrote a post some months ago on the role of Fathers in the lives of their children. I think we tend to underestimate the impact men play in the lives of their children. We usually hear about mothers but not always the fathers.
Love your kids
Have fun with your kids as a family. Go out on walks, to the park, the zoo, playground etc together. My daughter loves when she gets to hang out with both of us. Somehow it must make her feel more secure knowing we are both there for her. I know it can be hard to do this often due to work schedules and commitment. However, try as much as possible to do things together as a family. Schedule time as a family to do things together.
One way we try to implement family time is on days we are both not worn out after work or on weekends. We will all take a walk to the playground so she can play and just chat as a family. To be honest, some days one of you might be tired or might not be up to it. But i think forcing yourself to get into the habit sometimes does help.
Remember you are a team, you are not fighting each other but are fighting together. Sometimes the devil tries to confuse you to fight each other while ignoring the real enemy which is the devil. Your kids will see this oneness or lack of it and can play on it too. Remember kids are smarter than we think. For instance, a child asks mom if they can have something, mom says no, then they ask dad who says yes. This causes confusion because the kid has played on their intelligence. Even worse is when rather than addressing the main issue, the parents decide to fight each other.
Trust me, when you have kids, there will be a million reasons to fight your spouse every day. So many times hubby will place something for my daughter in the wrong place and i will get very upset or i will forget to close the dishwasher thus giving her access to kitchen utensils. Or i want to fight with him over not washing the dishes on time etc. But in all of this, you are on the same team, so fight that mind that wants you to go against each other. To succeed in this journey of parenthood, you need to stay strong together in unity. Being one in marriage will help you in raising your kids.
Helping each other
If you never needed help, wait till you have kids. I always thought i was superwoman but boy was i wrong. After my daughter, i realized how much i needed help. From washing the dishes to cleaning the house, putting her to bed, cooking etc. It is amazing when you are able to help one another. No matter how busy you are, take some time out regularly to help each other out. It could be as simple as bringing home food or cooking the meal so your spouse can rest. Better still, once in a while i love staying in hotels for about 2 nights so i do not have any cleaning or cooking responsibilities.
If you are enjoying this blog post on Balancing marriage and raising kids, check out these others i wrote on Parenting:
Date each other
Just because you are parents does not mean the dating should stop! Find little ways to date each other and keep things fun. I and hubby love watching movies together at home so we try to have a movie night every other week, although we are not always successful lol. Try different things, go out to watch a movie, go out to eat, take a road trip, lay under the sun, work out together. Find someone to watch your children or pay a babysitter so you can have time to spend outside the hosue together. There are so many ways to have fun together. Often times, we get so serious after kids and take life too seriously. We are constantly thinking about the finances or the future of the children. Take your hat off once in a while and just BE! Check out this blog post on Date night ideas.
In all that you do as parents, be selfless. Put the other person first before yourself. Put their needs before you. Remember you are on the same team. This is one area i have felt God leading me more into this year. Sometimes i find myself getting caught up in my fitness and blog business and ignoring other things. But recently i have been feeling the need to take a step back and just pray more over hubby and his business knowing that when he succeeds, we both succeed. It is not about me being successful in my business and he being successful in his own, we are both successful in each other’s business regardless of who is the face of the business.
Have a schedule on doing things for your kids. For instance taking turns in changing your baby’s diapers, taking turns in giving your kids baths, dropping and picking from school etc. Find ways to help relieve each other. If one person is constantly doing everything, they will soon burn out and that is not a fun place to be in. Hubby and I take turns doing my daughter’s bedtime routine which includes her shower, toothbrushing, prayer and story time. It usually only takes about 30minutes but it also gives the other person a time to just take a quick break away to just chill. Not to mention she loves being able to have different bedtime experiences with both of us. Figure out what works for both of you and work it out.
Focus on each other
When you have kids, it’s easy for everything to suddenly be about your kids. But do not let this be the case, do not let kids become the main part of everything. Kids are important, however, without a good marriage, the kids are not secure. Focus on your kids but at the same time, focus on yourselves. There are obviously seasons such as newborn stage where you both need to understand and give each other a break. For instance, when my daughter was born, the first few weeks hubby ended up making his meals or figuring out what to eat by himself. I was usually so tired or busy with our daughter especially because she was full-time breastfeeding. However, this was a season we had to go through together. Despite this, find little ways to keep your marriage at the frontline and not behind the needs of your kids. Help your kids to know they cannot come in between the two of you. Let them see that mom and dad love God and love each other. Check out this blog post from a family i featured about raising Godly children
At the end of the day, whether you are preparing for parenthood or already have kids, it’s important to keep Christ at the center of your marriage. Only he can truly give you a marriage with kids that glorifies him. However, do not believe any lies the devil tries to tell you that you will have relationship problems after having a baby. That is so far from the truth when you know who you are as a child of God.