*This article originally appeared on Her View From Home.
I know you’re nervous. I know you’re excited. I know you’re feeling a love you never thought possible. A newborn baby, or a child placed in your arms—your child.
You’ve been overwhelmed by polite smiles and unsolicited “words of advice” about how to care for your new child. Most of these you can take with a grain of salt. Every child is different, and you will figure out what works best for you and your family.
But there’s one that I have to underline: kids change everything.
If you birth a child, your body changes. Any disposable income you had pre-kids will now go toward diapers and footie pajamas. Your once tidy home will become a bottomless pit of laundry and baby bottles waiting to be washed. It’s true—kids change all of these things.
But there’s something else lurking in the shadows—your relationship with your partner. It’s the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it but they don’t want to acknowledge it.
Remember that person you loved so much it actually hurt your heart to be away from him? Remember that person you spent hours and hours talking and laughing with? Remember that person you walked down the aisle toward and promised to love and cherish forever? When kids arrive on the scene, your relationship will be challenged like it never has before.
Raising kids is hard. The sleepless nights (or years) of babyhood. The constant touching as little ones climb on and cling to you. All of the things you must remember: When did the baby last eat? What time is the doctor’s appointment next week? What are we having for dinner tonight? The feeling of being so needed will burn you out like you’ve just ran a marathon 10 times over.
Kids are excellent at siphoning out your energy. ALL. OF. IT. And parenting is work—a labor of love. With all of this extra devotion going toward a new dependent person, your romantic relationship with your partner often hits the brakes.
And no, I’m not just talking about sex. If you’ve recently had a baby, are still nursing said baby, and/or struggling with postpartum mental health, sex is probably going to be the furthest thing from your mind, and that’s more than okay. But that quality one-on-one time you enjoyed spending with your spouse before having kids is suddenly replaced by a crying baby or hyper toddler who refuses to sleep.
Kids bring an added commitment. You’ve added another title: Mom. Of course, children will often be a priority for you, especially when they are small and so dependent. But my advice is this, don’t forget you have another relationship that requires some TLC—your marriage.
I say this not to add to your already overflowing plate, but to make a conscious note of it in your mind. And certainly it isn’t all on you. Relationships are the culmination of two people—two parties responsible for putting in the work.
What I’m saying is that kids change a marriage. Things will never be as simple as they were before kids. But the addition of children does a beautiful thing: it brings attention to what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place. You see your partner in a whole new light.
When kids come along, you must find a way to connect to your partner. Find out what love languages he speaks and communicate what speaks to your heart. Make the time to be together now. Don’t wait until the fog of parenting has lifted and you realize you’ve simply become parents and not lovers.
Gestures don’t need to be of the grand variety. Little things go a long way. Sincere I love yous spoken softly in the dark. Bodies brushing up against each other as you move around the kitchen. Holding hands when you finally venture out of the house. Little love notes and “I miss you” texts throughout the day let each other know that while there is a new responsibility demanding your attention, your spouse still has a deep-rooted place in your heart.