I have found that no matter how strong your relationship is, you have to always work for it.
What I mean by work for it is that you need to take care of it. People are constantly changing because the world around them changes. The relationship you had before kids is extremely different from the one you have now with kids.
I consider myself a very lucky woman. I have been with my husband for 7 ½ years and this November 2019 we will have been married 4 years. He is my rock and I don’t know what I would do without him. Right before we got married, it seemed like everyone was handing out marriage advice. And in general, it was great advice. It was rare that the advice given didn’t work for us. But since the addition of kids into our relationship, it has had to evolve.
If you don’t have kids, then you should know that they bring challenges that you can’t plan for. These challenges tend to have a hard effect to what once seemed like a perfect relationship. Before children, you and your significant other could go out whenever you felt like or shut down for the day whenever you wanted. Life was a bit easier. The 9 ways to keep your relationship stronger are here to help you invest in your relationship.
There will be bumpy roads in your relationship.
Unfortunately this inevitable, but not permanent. For many parents, a big reason their relationship might be a little strained is from the addition of a newborn to your family. In my post about Surviving Baby’s First Month, moms are going to be sleep-deprived, postpartum hormones will be everywhere, and you will be healing from pushing a human out of your body. Each of these alone spell trouble, but add them together and you have a recipe for disaster.
There is no way to prepare yourself and your partner for the changes that will come once you have a kid. There will be so many moments of laughing and smiling as you watch them grow. And then you will have those rough moments where neither parent agrees with the other. Parents find themselves exhausted, especially in the beginning when sleep feels so far away.
Having kids will most likely push you to adjust your relationship with your significant other, but that is not a bad thing. I think it is great. My marriage is so much stronger thanks to these challenges. The good news is that although having kids brings challenges into your relationship, they are not new ones. They are just a little different from what you are used to.
Here is the best advice to keep your relationship strong. These have strengthened my marriage.
1. Communication is Key
You might have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard this bit yet, but open communication is important. This was true when you first started dating. It was true when you decided to get married or be in a committed long-term relationship. And it is still true after having your first child. Communicating is one of the founding pillars of having a great relationship. You should be able to talk to your partner about anything, even if that conversation leads to a big argument.
First off I want to say that arguing is not a bad thing. Being able to resolve an issue is important and can be a good example of teaching your kids to resolve one of their own.
Second, you and your partner need to listen to each other and accept that there may not be a perfect solution or answer. Maybe one of you is right and maybe neither of you is. Each of you will need to find a way to speak to each where you can communicate what you think without demeaning the other person’s thoughts.
2. Don’t go to bed angry
This will typically allow that tension to build and probably make it difficult to resolve an argument. Even though arguments are exhausting and you may not come to a firm conclusion, being able to set it aside without the resentful feelings gives you both the ability to have a good rest. Once you get some sleep, you or your partner might be able to look at the situation differently.
This one didn’t apply to my relationship until about two months ago. We were sleep-deprived and there were a lot of other factors we were dealing with (our new child, job frustrations, in the process of buying our first home, and medical bills). I don’t even remember what we were fighting about, but what I do remember is all the anger and tension that followed us into our bed. Sleeping was almost impossible and we needed it badly. The next morning we both pushed to have some sort of conclusion with the fight. I even told my husband that we were never doing that again. Fingers crossed we can make that a true statement. (Update: It happened again…and it was horrible. We did figure it out though.)
3. Don’t forget to say “Thank You”
Acknowledging both the big and little things that your partner does is extremely important. It means that you recognize and appreciate what they did.
4. Saying “I Love You”
This pretty much goes hand in hand with saying “thank you”. The best part is that you are not limited to the words alone. Saying “I love you” can be done with many different kinds of actions, big and small. Actions like doing the dishes when you know they hate that chore or bringing home a beautiful bouquet of flowers just because you are thinking of them.
At one point my husband and I were living in two separate cities. This was a really difficult time for us. Before he moved, he wrote a lot of small notes and then hid them in random places throughout our home. It brought me so much joy every time I would find a new note. I have kept each note he wrote to me. Whenever I am having a bad day I will look at them and instantly feel better.
5. Figuring out your financial situation.
No matter who you are, financial woes affect relationships. Money is always a sensitive and tricky topic. It’s hard because getting more money (which in general is the solution) is not a simple task. Worrying about being able to afford basic necessities was probably a part of your relationship before having kids, now that you have one that concept has gotten so much bigger.
For example, a cost you probably didn’t think about is that in the first year you will need to buy a whole new wardrobe for your kid about every three months. That adds up to a lot of money. Or you might get some hospital bills you were not expecting.
Personally, I recommend (if you can) waiting to have kids when you feel financially stable enough. This will take away the huge burden of money woes for any unplanned expenses. I understand this is not possible for everyone. But let’s say you already have kids and the topic of money is hurting your relationship/marriage.
There are two tasks I recommend you do.
First, create a separate savings account and begin putting as much money as you can in it. It doesn’t matter if it is $25 or $500, put aside what you can and save it for emergencies. If you have extra money one month, put that into the savings. You will be amazed at how much you can save. If possible, make that account difficult to get money from. For example, don’t associate a debit card with it.
Second, this might sound crazy, but if you haven’t already, start the process of building your credit. Find a credit card that will work towards something you want. I have the Southwest Airlines Credit Card. I chose this card because I can work towards getting free flights. Plus I love their service. I have used my points many times and it is great. Especially now that I have to pay for a seat for my two-year-old. Getting a credit card and building that credit will help for future big financial decisions, like buying a new car or house.
As a side note and friendly reminder…keep the amount on your credit card at a reasonable range.
Now you are probably thinking, gosh she is talking a lot about money and that is because the money used to be a huge stress on my relationship with my husband. It’s not as much anymore. And that includes the addition of two kids in daycare. It took a while and many tries, but we figured out our finances.
This is nerdy of me to say, but I love sitting down with my husband and going over our monthly budget. I love doing this because once we see what money we have, we start talking about what we want to do with it. Currently, it is now about either renovating parts of our home or where we want to go on vacation next.
6. Unplug from the digital world
I am sure many of you hear this a lot, but being able to set aside time where there isn’t a phone or computer in front of your face is important. Unplugging means giving your partner your undivided attention.
This is especially true once you have kids. When kids enter the picture they require a lot of your time. You get to a point where you just want to check out and not be a mom for a minute. I am guilty of this.
Setting aside time where you don’t have any electronics can make all your relationships strong. It can be something as simple as when going out to eat you leave your phones either in your purse or pockets. Or you could set aside 15-30 minutes to go for a walk and just talk about whatever you want. My husband and I did this before having kids, and now we take our kids on a walk in the evenings.
7. Don’t hold things against one another
Don’t get mad when I say this, but it is a petty move to hold something that happened in the past over your significant other. I am not talking about extreme incidents like cheating, but more like saying something hurtful during an argument. Mistakes happen and the goal is to learn and move on from them. Plus carrying that anger or resentment can really weigh you down.
If you are having a hard time letting it go, make sure you sit down and talk with your partner. Remember communication is key. It is better to discuss the issues sooner instead of letting it build into something nasty.
8. Schedule time away from one another.
Now you must be thinking, okay lady how does being away from my significant other help my relationship. Well dedicating time specifically for yourself is good for your soul. And when you start feeling good and happy, that bleeds into other aspects of your life. Relationships can become a little stifled because you see your significant other so much and there is nothing new to talk about. This is especially true when you have kids. Scheduling personal time is more difficult because you want to enjoy the time you have together as a family. Remember it is important to take care of yourself and through that, you will become a better partner and parent.
9. Go on as many dates as you can
If I could only give you one singular relationship advice it would be to never stop going on dates. As parents, it’s a simple way to keep the fires of romance burning. Taking a few hours away from your kids can do wonders. During that time you get to focus on your significant other and yourself. My husband and I make sure we go on at least one date a month. It has strengthened our relationship and marriage so much.
Have fun with these by going on a date that you wouldn’t normally do. For example, I live in the fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Both my husband and I were born here, but strangely enough, we have rarely taken advantage of what this city has to offer. A lot of our dates are at unique restaurants or local activities. It has given us some fun and new experiences.
Need some amazing date ideas for your next date night? Check out my post with 30 Unique Date Ideas to Mix Things Up! Take any examples I gave and add your own flair to it.
Relationships are constantly evolving.
Your romantic life changed the minute you got pregnant and even more so once the baby was born. Just remember what drew you to the other person and/or why you wanted to have a child with them. Those bumpy roads will eventually become smoother.
Did I forget some great relationship advice? Click the button below to submit your awesome advice and I will update this post to showcase it!
Happy Days ~
Here is a great list of the essential items you need and those you can live without to build your maternity wardrobe.