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No matter how prepared a couple thinks they are for life as parents, once a baby comes, chances are they’ll never say that life is what they’ve expected. Marriage after children is an exercise in reprioritizing, and couples are more likely to say that they never imagined anything could be so miserable but wonderful at the same time.

Other parents understand the contradiction. Most expectant parents research as much as they can about caring for their soon-to-be babies, but few consider how their relationship might change after the baby comes. Research suggests the child will impact the couples’ satisfaction with their relationship, which typically happens once they have a child. Relationships can be pretty easy when they’re the only thing you’re focusing on.

Having a child is the most remarkable thing you’ll do together, but the changes are dramatic and immediate. There are many things people don’t plan on, and coming together as parents makes the relationship much more challenging. Of course, all couples are different, but some crop up between new parents as they traverse this bewildering and marvelous new phase of life. Having children can be hard on a marriage. Too often, we hear about couples struggling and finding their marriage in an unstable place. Here are some ways that children will change your marriage for the better.

You become a better team.

Most couples know that marriage is something you have to work at and you should be a team player. After having children, that piece of advice becomes evident. On their wedding day, husbands and wives become one before God, committing to working together as a team to glorify God. Becoming parents creates a stronger team, and the level of empathy is driven higher. You’re both now responsible for another life. That responsibility includes clothing, feeding, providing security and safety, and molding their minds about how they should live. You’re both parents now and realize that working together can reap significant rewards for your marriage and children.

You cherish each other’s company.

Parents know how much time a child requires daily. Nothing is left when you get to the end of the day. Spending time with your spouse starts to suffer. That realization creates a situation where you treasure it when you get that special time together. You aren’t criticizing that your time together isn’t filled with roses, chocolates, or candles. As parents, time together now includes sitting on the sofa after the kids are in bed or watching your favorite show. Perhaps you take a short walk around the neighborhood while someone monitors the kids.

None of these activities seem extraordinary, but for spouses on the parenting journey, it’s a time that you can focus on each other. Couples can experience discussions without interruptions and treasure the time cuddling without your precious children rooting between you.

You become more present with each other.

Being present with your spouse can spark your connection with each other. When present with someone, you can put your expectations and desires aside. You no longer have a standard your spouse should live up to. For that time, all the parenting expectations are put aside. Most couples don’t spend much time together because they’re parents. They juggle schedules to get the children to their activities at the grocery store and ensure everyone has clean underwear. This reality has made most parents stop and pay attention more. You may find yourself staring at your spouse when they’re doing the most minor thing. There are the times you feel most connected with them and present. You can learn so much about your spouse by making yourself present. Becoming parents helps you accomplish that because you’re limited on time.

You carve out time for each other.

Getting married changed the relationship between you and your spouse. Before your wedding day, you were persistent about spending time together. Once married, you’re living together 24/7, so the need to carve out time for each other was put on hold, and every night was date night. However, parenting changed all of that. The key is to remember that you had each other before kids came along. Too often, couples put their children before their spouses’ needs. All that time is devoted to parenting, which can leave your spouse feeling neglected. Having kids means you carve time out together. That time is so appreciated and unique. Without kids, parents wouldn’t have date nights or run away to sit in the car and talk.

You communicate better.

In an article, psychology professor Dr. Philip Cowan said that parenting exposes the fault lines in a marriage, which most parents will agree with. Parents have moments where they feel exhausted and underappreciated, then lash out at their spouses. After that moment passes, you should apologize for speaking out in anger and promise to think before you speak. Most couples might feel like their communication is better than before having children. Couples clearly understand the need to be honest and openly share their feelings. God created marriage so we could have a partner, but how can we help each other if we don’t communicate? Having kids will help you check in with each other and keep the communication lines open.

You foster a deeper relationship with God.

God is the model every parent should follow. He’s filled the Bible with instructions regarding parenting. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 reminds us to fix God’s Word on our hearts and teach it to the children. We should speak God’s Word in our homes, where we lie down, walk, and get up. Teaching the word of God to your children starts with learning the word yourself. Spouses who pray and read the Bible together will foster a deeper relationship with Jesus, turning to Him for answers in their marriage and parenting expedition.

Marriage is a consecrated commitment made before God and filled with joyous moments. Parenting can create struggles, but becoming parents doesn’t mean failed marriages. You can still nurture that relationship and build a solid marriage based on God’s Word. That kind of marriage will teach children what marriage should be like.

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