When I was in college, one of the most disheartening things I learned about was marital satisfaction after having kids. Many studies have shown that marital satisfaction decreases during the child rearing years. I’ll never forget seeing that little upside down bell curve. It’s always bothered me and do you want to hear something funny? Since that lecture, I’ve looked at happiness within my own marriage as a challenge.
That’s the exact image she used in the lecture. You may understand why I was disheartened now. The drop in happiness between ages 20 and 40 is sickening. I think “indignant” would be an accurate word to describe my emotions towards this study.
I’ve argued with that stupid little chart. That argument goes something like this,
You think that just because some psychologists and sociologists put you together using their data points, you’re going to predict how happy my marriage will be? Well screw you because Clay Pigeon and I work really hard at our marriage. You think that I’m just going to give up that fight so I can be less happy because you say I have to? Wrong. You can go suck a pickle. I’m going to be happy whether you like it or not, damn it.
With that being said, my husband and I have done a pretty decent job at maintaining our marriage as we raise our girls. We have many many years left to keep this going but I know if we keep it up, we will do just fine.
What do we do?
Make a Point to do the Little Things for One Another
When you have little ones, it’s really easy to let the “small things” slip through the cracks. Don’t let that happen! The small things that you do for each other are a monumentous way to show your partner that you care. While I don’t always remember, I do my best to make sure that there is some kind of ice cream in the house to satisfy his insatiable late night cravings. Clay leaves me small notes of encouragement to help me make it through the days.
Have Fun Whenever You Can
How can any aspect of life be happy without also being fun? In my opinion, happiness without fun is almost unattainable. Play with your partner. Even the most mundane tasks can be made enjoyable through play. When we do the dinner dishes, my husband always dries. Without fail, he always towel whips me when I’m not looking and it scares the living daylights out of me. We both get a kick out of it and it starts this little battle over the tea towel. I’m a little meaner…I spit cold water at him while he is in the shower. Read all about the ways Clay and I have fun together in Date Ideas When You Literally Have No Money.
It takes two to tango ladies and gents. The two of you made those babies together which means you need to raise them together. Make sure that you are on the same page when it comes to the important parts of parenting (discipline, religion, childcare, routines, etc.) and commit to a routine in which both of you share the daily parenting duties like diaper changing, bath time, and bedtime routines.
Make Intimacy a Priority
I’m going to say it…sex is important. Like, really important. There are lot’s of benefits to sex but the most important reason, for the sake of this argument, is that it encourages a deeper relationship with your partner. If sex is not currently at the top of your priority list, put it there. Schedule it in your planner if you have to. Let your partner know that you want to start getting intimate regularly again. I promise, he won’t let you forget about your scheduled date.
Go Out on an Actual Date Every So Often
When you’re a parent, you sometimes forget that you exist outside of that role. Schedule a real date once every so often. Clay and I are blessed with amazing families who are more than willing to babysit for us when we need a night out. If family is not an option for you, see if there are any responsible teens in your area willing to babysit. We offer our date night sitter $15 or $20 and we get to enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee and a slice of pie. It’s so refreshing to have that time to ourselves.
There is absolutely no getting around the fact that both marriage and parenting are difficult. However, if you work together, with the same goals in mind, you will find that all of it is worth the effort. Don’t give up, ask for help when you need it, and love the hell out of your spouse.