5 Key Shifts in Marriage After Children: Thrive Together


Marriage after children is a whole different type of relationship than marriage before kids. Having children is a life-changing experience that affects every aspect of your life, including your marriage. It can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling journey, but it’s not without its challenges. In this blog post, we’ll explore how having kids changes your marriage, drawing from the experiences of a father of four, who shares his insights into this loaded topic.

From the initial shift in priorities to the exhaustion that comes with caring for a newborn, we’ll delve into some of the ways that children can impact your relationship with your partner. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect if you’re considering starting a family or if you’re already navigating the joys and challenges of parenthood. So, let’s dive in and explore how having kids can change your marriage.

Marriage After Children: The role of family in shaping the desire to have kids

Family is often the first point of contact that children have with the idea of having kids. From an early age, children are exposed to their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles having and caring for children. This exposure can significantly shape the way children view having children themselves.

For some individuals, growing up in a family that values having children can create a strong desire to have kids. They may see the joy that children bring to their families and the meaningful relationships that develop between parents and children. This positive exposure can instill a desire to have children in individuals and make them feel that having children is a necessary part of life.

On the other hand, individuals who grow up in families that do not place a high value on having children may not develop a desire to have kids. They may see the challenges and sacrifices that come with parenting and decide that it’s not something they want to pursue. Additionally, individuals who grow up in families where having children is not an option due to financial, cultural, or other reasons may not view having children as a priority.

Overall, family plays a critical role in shaping an individual’s desire to have kids. However, it’s important to remember that while family can be a significant influence, it’s not the only factor that determines whether someone decides to have children or not. Personal beliefs, life circumstances, and individual values also play a crucial role in this decision.

Adjusting Priorities: From Partnership to Parenting

Marriage before kids often focuses on the couple, their shared experiences, and personal aspirations. But once children enter the picture, priorities inevitably shift, moving from a couple-centric lifestyle to one that’s child-centric. This adjustment can be profound, as your schedule, finances, and even conversations naturally start to orbit around the needs of your children.

This shift doesn’t just change your daily routine; it often affects your personal identity as well. Parents might find themselves identifying primarily as “mom” or “dad,” sometimes overshadowing their own individual or partner identities. This can lead to a feeling of losing one’s self in the service of their roles as parents. Furthermore, the dynamics of your relationship with your partner can undergo significant changes. Time alone becomes scarce, and the relationship can sometimes feel more like a co-parenting partnership than a romantic relationship.

Balancing these roles effectively requires intentional effort. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Set aside couple time: It’s crucial to schedule regular times for just the two of you, whether it’s a date night, a brief coffee break while the kids are at school, or catching up at the end of the day. This helps keep your romantic relationship from getting lost in the parenting shuffle.
  • Maintain individual interests: Continue engaging in personal hobbies and interests when possible. This helps preserve your unique identity and brings personal fulfillment, which can positively impact your relationship.
  • Share parenting duties: Make a concerted effort to divide parenting responsibilities in a way that feels equitable. This prevents resentment from building and supports a team approach to parenting.
  • Communicate openly: Regularly discuss your feelings and changes in your life with your partner. Open communication helps both partners understand each other’s perspective and fosters a cooperative environment.

By actively managing these aspects, you can maintain a strong partnership even as you navigate the rewarding, yet often complex, waters of parenting.

Energy drain and lack of support

Parenting is an incredibly demanding job that requires significant amounts of energy, patience, and resources. Parents are responsible for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of their children, and this can be exhausting, especially if they do not have enough support. A lack of support can come in various forms, such as financial, emotional, or physical support, and it can significantly impact a parent’s ability to raise their children.

One of the most significant energy drains for parents is the lack of sleep. Babies and young children require a lot of attention, and this can lead to parents sacrificing their sleep to meet their children’s needs. This can lead to exhaustion, irritability, and even depression, which can make it challenging to be a good parent. The lack of support from a partner or family members can exacerbate this issue, leaving parents feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Another energy drain for parents is the financial strain of raising children. Children require a lot of resources, such as food, clothing, and childcare, which can be expensive. Parents who do not have the financial means to support their children may feel stressed and anxious, which can negatively impact their ability to parent effectively.

Lastly, lack of emotional and physical support can also take a toll on parents. Raising children can be isolating, especially for stay-at-home parents or single parents. Without a supportive community or network of friends, parents may feel lonely and overwhelmed, which can make it difficult to cope with the challenges of parenting.

The energy drain and lack of support can make parenting a challenging and overwhelming task. It is crucial for parents to have access to emotional, physical, and financial support to help them cope with the demands of raising children. Without support, parents may struggle to provide their children with the care and attention they need, which can have long-term effects on both the parents and the children.

The impact of having kids on marital relationships

While having children can be a source of great joy and fulfillment, it can also put a strain on even the strongest of marriages. The added stress, lack of sleep, and constant demands on time and attention can take a toll on the relationship between partners.

One of the biggest challenges that couples face after having kids is maintaining a healthy and fulfilling sex life. With the added stress and exhaustion, it can be difficult to find the time and energy for intimacy. This can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and even a sense of disconnect between partners.

Another common issue that arises after having kids is disagreements over parenting styles. It’s not uncommon for couples to have different opinions on how to raise their children, and these differences can lead to arguments and conflict. This can be especially challenging if one parent feels like they are doing all the work, while the other feels left out or uninvolved.

In addition to these challenges, having kids can also impact the division of labor in the household. In many cases, women end up taking on the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities, which can lead to feelings of overwhelm and burnout. This can also create resentment towards their partner, who may not be contributing as much as they should be.

To mitigate the impact of having kids on a marital relationship, it’s important for couples to communicate openly and honestly with each other. This means sharing their feelings, concerns, and frustrations, as well as working together to find solutions that work for both partners. It’s also important to prioritize time for intimacy, even if it means scheduling it in advance or being creative about finding opportunities for connection. Finally, it’s crucial for both partners to take an active role in parenting and household responsibilities, so that the workload is shared fairly and both partners feel valued and supported.

The importance of communication and intimacy in maintaining a healthy relationship

As mentioned in the previous section, maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with your partner is crucial, especially when you have kids. It’s essential to make time for each other and prioritize your relationship, but it’s also important to communicate effectively and nurture intimacy.

Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important when you have kids. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of parenting and forget to check in with your partner. Taking a few minutes each day to ask about their day, listen actively, and share your own thoughts and feelings can help you stay connected and avoid misunderstandings.

Intimacy is another crucial element of a healthy relationship, and it’s not just about physical touch. It’s about feeling close and connected to your partner in every way. This can include things like sharing your hopes and dreams, supporting each other through difficult times, and making time for fun and romance.

However, it’s important to remember that intimacy can be challenging when you have kids. It can be hard to find time and energy for intimacy when you’re exhausted from parenting all day. But making intimacy a priority can help you maintain a strong and healthy relationship with your partner, even amidst the chaos of parenting.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting, it’s important to remember the importance of maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with your partner. By prioritizing communication, intimacy, and making time for each other, you can create a happy and fulfilling family life for yourself and your children.

Planning for the Long Term: Adapting as Children Grow

As children grow, the challenges of parenting and the dynamics of your marital relationship will evolve. The needs of a toddler are vastly different from those of a teenager, and as such, your parenting approaches and relationship strategies must adapt. Recognizing and anticipating these changes can help you maintain a healthy, supportive family environment over the years.

Evolution of Parenting Challenges

In the early years, parenting often focuses on physical care—feeding, changing, and comforting. As children enter school, the focus shifts to educational support, social skill development, and discipline. Teenage years introduce new challenges such as independence, identity issues, and more complex emotional support needs. Each stage requires different amounts of time, energy, and approaches, often necessitating shifts in how you and your partner manage your time and responsibilities.

Adapting Marital Strategies

As your children grow and become more independent, you and your partner will find more time to focus on each other. This can be a golden opportunity to rekindle the romance that might have taken a backseat during the more demanding early years of parenting. Continuing to adapt your marital strategies includes:

  • Revisiting interests: Rediscover and share interests that may have been put aside. This can strengthen bonds and offer new avenues for connection.
    Reallocating time: As children become less dependent, allocate more time for couple activities. This helps in transitioning smoothly into the next stages of your relationship.
  • Setting new goals: With more time on your hands, setting new goals together, whether they’re travel plans, hobbies, or professional ambitions, can invigorate your relationship.

Planning for Post-Childrearing Years

Looking ahead to the time when children leave home, it’s important to plan for this significant change. This period, often called the “empty nest” phase, can be jarring, but with preparation, it can also be a fulfilling chapter. Planning for this phase involves:

  • Financial planning: Ensure you are financially prepared for retirement or any plans you’ve made for your post-childrearing years.
    Emotional preparation: Discuss your expectations and any concerns about this new phase with your partner. Consider engaging in activities that both of you enjoy and that can be pursued together in the years to come.
  • Maintaining closeness: Continue to prioritize your relationship, ensuring that you grow together rather than apart. Regular check-ins and mutual support become even more important as you navigate this new stage.

By planning for the long term and adapting to the changing needs of your children and each other, you can ensure that your marriage not only endures but also thrives. These efforts help solidify a foundation of love and partnership that extends beyond the active parenting years.


In conclusion, having kids can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of our lives, but it can also be challenging and exhausting. It’s important to recognize that having a strong and healthy relationship with our partners is crucial to maintaining a happy family life, even if that means going to couples counseling to get things back on track.

By prioritizing our relationship with our partner, we can ensure that our family dynamic remains strong even as our kids grow up and move out. This means making time for one another, having regular date nights, and communicating effectively, even amidst the chaos of parenting. Ultimately, the key to a happy and healthy family life is balancing the love and affection we have for our children with the love and affection we have for our partners.

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