Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.Psalm 127: 3-5
The decision to add on to a house can be both challenging and rewarding. Also, adding on to your marriage with children can be both challenging and rewarding.
It all starts with an amazing love story. Two people fall hopelessly in love and enter into the marriage covenant to become husband and wife. The couple hold hands, look into each other’s eyes, and repeat their vows to continue their love as long as they both shall live. Two lives become one in the most incredible union and in the most intimate of ways. Through marriage, you find a feeling of completion and satisfaction in emotional and physical ways that are unmatched in any other earthly relationship.
Then it happens and everything changes. It is in the natural instinct of man and woman to create new life. Two lovers become two parents. After nine months of anticipation, waiting, and planning, the day finally arrives. I remember all the countless hours I spent reading to my unborn children. I remember all the time we spent talking and planning our life with a new child. I remember feeling those first baby kicks as my ecstatic wife placed my hand on her pregnant belly. I remember the magical moments when each of my children were born and recognized the voice of their father. Time stood still, unforgettable memories were seared into our minds, and our lives were changed forever at the birth of our children.
Even though building on to your little fixer upper marriage is exciting and joyful, the changes it creates are astronomical in effect. You are no longer just husband and wife, but mom and dad. The little bundle of joy that you wrap up and bring home is a time bomb of change to marriage. These are three ways you can have a great marriage after having children.
1. Learn How to Work Together as a Team
Prayerfully Decide Together about Having Children
It is a great idea to discuss the prospect of having children before you get married! When my wife and I were dating, she revealed to me that she wanted to have 10 children! After I picked my jaw off the floor and talked about it, we both discovered that we loved kids and wanted to have as many as God wanted us to have. And this would become something we would pray about together throughout the course of our marriage.
I have known couples who believe you should have as many babies as you physically can. But after losing our first child and spending approximately 3 months in the hospital with our second pregnancy, we decided together to pray for specific guidance before attempting to have more children. It is wise in my opinion to consider the emotional and physical health of your wife when considering having children.
Communicate Your Expectations of Each Other
Seriously discuss the role that you expect each other to play in the raising and care of your children. There are some homes where the husband does nothing to help with the care of the children or household chores. This is why it is important that you are both on the same page. If you expect your husband to help out with the baby you need to communicate this to him as he may have been conditioned to not help. He may in fact find it insulting that you would expect him to. If you expect your wife to do everything related to childcare and you not lift a finger, you need to communicate that with her. She may be insulted that you don’t help.
Deciding in advance can prevent conflict in your marriage as well as resentment toward each other. For example, maybe you can take turns getting up with the baby at night, or if your husband has to get up early for work, it may be better for him to help out in the evenings. Maybe having a “mommy break”, where the husband agrees to take care of the kids for a time so that his wife can have some alone time would benefit your marriage.
My wife and I have been really blessed to have her working at home as a homemaker. I would highly recommend this format as it allows you to raise your own kids. Motherhood is the highest calling and the most important job in the world. In fact, according to Salary.com, if paid monetarily for their work, stay at home moms would earn a medium-income of $162,581 in 2018. They even have a tool where you can adjust the stay at home earnings value to your specific circumstances. You can also find some great information at Motherly. Although it may require some lifestyle adjustments, it is well worth it if it all possible. If you consider this a sacrifice, we live in a modest home and drive our cars for a long time, but we have an extremely happy and stable home and marriage.
Although today’s culture derides this lifestyle, the Bible advocates for it, see Titus 2: 1-5. These are the types of expectations you should talk about as you move from lovers to parents.
Decide on How You Intend on Raising Your Children
Discuss how you intend on raising your kids as a team. For instance, if you want your children to be raised in the Church, you should develop a plan to make this happen. Making church attendance important and reading the Bible together are things that you will have to do to make this a reality. Also, decide what kind of church you intend on keeping your kids in.
It is also important as parents to agree together on the who, how, and when of disciplining your children. I would recommend that the primary disciplinarian be the father and in his absence the mother. This will give your children some structure and will prevent resentment between husband and wife as both share the responsibility in this area.
Additionally, if there are areas of training that you feel is important, you should communicate this with your spouse, so that you can work together to make these things possible. For example, if you want all your kids to play musical instruments, you should work with your spouse to determine ways you can get them the training that they need. It is not fair for you to expect your spouse to know your expectations without communicating them to him.
2. Become More Deliberate in Your Attention
The pressures and responsibilities of parenthood have a tendency to overshadow the needs of marriage. And if you are not careful you will completely stop being lovers, and just become parents. An article on Furtune.com reveals that after decades of studies that relationship satisfaction in couples with kids decline twice as fast as those without children. Clearly kids put an enormous strain on a marriage.
Many couples stay together just for the sake of the kids, which is counterproductive as you cheat your kids out of seeing a healthy marriage! It is far better to work together to correct the problems in your marriage.
Prioritize Your Spouse Above Your Kids
The Bible lays out the principles of life in regard to family relationship in order of their importance:
- God- Knowing Him and having a right relationship with Him is at the top of your personal relationship priorities.
- Spouse- Besides God, there is no one more important than the person you have entered into the marriage covenant with.
- Children- God gives you children to raise and teach. They are like arrows, that He helps you prepare and send out into this world to make a mark for Him.
Married couples can lose their love for each other with all the responsibilities of being a parent. The husband has to work extra hours to provide for the family. The wife must spend her time taking care of the home and kids. By the end of the day, both parents are too exhausted to be spouses to one another. The husband is too tired to listen to his wife, and the wife is too tired to have private time with her husband.
It is when you are the busiest, that you have to refocus on your relationship with God. You absolutely cannot allow your walk with Him to suffer. Then you absolutely must refocus on your relationship with your spouse. You cannot let your life as lovers die. When your kids are grown, it will just be the two of you again, and if you have not protected that relationship, it will not be there.
There is a new trend called gray divorce, the divorce rate for couples over 50 has doubled since 1990. What a shame, that a marriage can survive for many years only to have such a bitter end. Protect your heart and life as a lover to your spouse so that you can enjoy a lifetime together.
Spend Quality Time Together
With all the stress and pressure of being a parent, learn to hit the pause button and become lovers again. The following are some more date night ideas submitted to my email address of Jason@fixeruppermarriage.org:
- Go on hike together
- Take a painting class
- Have a picnic
- Visit a coffee shop
- Read a book aloud together
Taking time to really listen to your wife can go a long way toward meeting her romantic needs. Looking at her and listening to the point that you could summarize what she is saying. It is hardwired into a woman to want to talk about how she feels and to know that someone cares about what goes on in her life. God made man and woman different in ways that should be appreciated and cultivated by each other within the marriage covenant.
Also, men are hardwired to receive attention from the opposite sex. The feminist movement has worked hard to villainize this aspect of manhood. Men are created with different romantic needs than women but this does make those differences bad. Let’s just be honest, it is fairly easy to make a man happy, men are simple in this way! Just a little attention and admiration from his wife can make a husband feel like he is on top of the world.
Furthermore, if your husband is attracted to you, it should be considered a good thing. After all, do you really want him to find that attention somewhere else, like that woman at work, that woman on the computer screen, or that woman he follows on social media?
Go out of your way to spend quality time together as a couple, even when you are too tired or too busy. Cultivate your love in those things that make your spouse different and in those ways that are meaningful to them. In doing this you may find the joy for yourself in those things that are meaningful to your spouse.
Remember the Little Things
Keep up with the little things that make your love and relationship special. Keep sending those flirty text messages to each other. Keep buying those flowers and cards. Keep leaving those sweet love notes. Keep wearing his favorite outfits. Keep holding hands. Keep saying I love you. These are the little things that hold your marriage together even when those little additions make it harder to maintain.
3. Discover the Value of Enduring Hardship
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.II Timothy 2: 3
Hardships Are Valuable
The Bible teaches the value of enduring hardness in your service for the Lord, but this a principle that we can also apply to marriage. There is a dirty little secret that we all try to hide from each other, that all marriages go through rough spots. Perhaps your time of hardship is for a few months or even a few years. Regardless, hard times in marriage are inevitable. These are the times when your spouse or your marriage does not live up to your expectations. These are the times when you and your spouse face a crisis like grief or financial loss. The pressure of these hardships can either pull you apart or draw you closer together depending on how you respond.
Hardships are valuable to marriage because it galvanizes your love for each other. By going through things together, your love becomes stronger. When marriage is strained by those additions, you have the opportunity to grow in your love for each other and your faith in God.
It is also important to note that those additions to your marriage are watching the way that your love responds. To your children, the way they see you respond to hardship in marriage becomes their example to emulate throughout their lives.
Have a Love that Gives
Give your love to your spouse until you have nothing left to give, and then give some more. What you have in being in love and married is the envy of this world, therefore you should give everything you have to protect it. In those times of hardship when your marriage is the most vulnerable, you need to give your marriage all that you have to give.
God loves us with a love that gives expecting nothing in return except for you. In giving yourself to your spouse and what she wants, you may not get what you want, but you will get your spouse. Ironically, this is what makes marriage so unique and special, that in everything you have each other which is really what will bring you the most joy! You saw your spouse and wanted them, so you married them, now through everything in life you have each other.
I love my wife, therefore I am willing to give up somethings that I way give her more of what she desires. This is the great secret of success in marriage. That is in giving away yourself, you find the real joy in love.
In a short story first published in the 1905 by O. Henry entitled The Gift of the Magi, a very poor couple in love struggled with what to get each other for Christmas. Jim the loving husband sold his most valuable possession, his watch, to buy his wife Della a set of hair combs for her beautiful hair. However, Della sold her beautiful hair to buy Jim a chain for his watch. On Christmas night they exchanged gifts, only to find that neither could use the gifts that the other had bought. Give and give more to your spouse!
3 Ways You can have a Great Marriage after Having Children
- Learn How to Work Together as a Team
- Become More Deliberate in Your Attention
- Discover the Value in Enduring Hardship