Confession: Having Kids Made My Marriage More Difficult

by Bethany Neumeyer
Bethany is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom who is currently using her writing degree to answer the question, why.

Not long after I had my first child, a woman asked for advice on getting pregnant in an online forum I frequented. She and her husband were going through a rough patch in their marriage, and they’d decided to try to have a baby.

She reasoned that if they had to put so much effort and energy into taking care of a baby, they couldn’t possibly have enough energy to argue about trivial things like whose turn it was to take out the garbage. She was sure that having a baby would bring them closer together and solve all of their problems.

I wanted to leap through the computer and shake her.

I say this as someone who had a great marriage before having kids and still has a great marriage after having had two children: Having children absolutely makes marriage harder. Not worse, necessarily, but different and definitely harder. Here’s why:

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1. It’s harder to communicate.

Both of our kids love to talk. Loudly. To each other, to us, to anyone they see. We work daily to try to teach them not to interrupt when someone else is talking, but some days it seems like we’re fighting a losing battle.

Our oldest was less than a year old when we realized that he would intentionally start to babble any time my husband and I tried to talk to each other — he didn’t want any conversations to take place unless they involved him.

And now that we’ve got two kids, there’s double the interruption. Normal, everyday conversations like “How was your day?” and “What should we have for dinner?” seem nearly impossible sometimes.

And serious, important conversations?

While the kids are awake, we can pretty much forget about having them. Even if your kids aren’t big talkers, certain conversations will have to be put on hold when there are “little ears” present, which can mean waiting longer to resolve problems or disagreements.

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2. There are more big decisions to be made.

If a couple has a hard time agreeing on restaurants or what color to paint the living room wall before having kids, they’re in for a rude awakening once kids join the family.

Even while expecting a child, life is suddenly full of potentially hot-button issues. What are we going to name the baby? Who gets to be in the delivery room when it’s born? Should we circumcise or not? Will we let our baby “cry it out” at night? How will we fairly divide time between the sets of grandparents?

As the kids get older, the decisions only get bigger. And even the closest, happiest couple in the world won’t agree on every single decision regarding their children.

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3. Kids are expensive.

Finances are one of the most common things that married couples argue about. When you have kids, there are suddenly a lot more ways to drain your bank account and cause financial squabbles.

The added expenses start from day one, with hospital co-pays and giant boxes of diapers (seriously, so many diapers). And couples can find themselves disagreeing on financial decisions they never even thought about before becoming parents. For instance: How much should we spend on Christmas gifts for the kids? Should we be saving for college and, if so, how much?

Even if you’ve always been on the same page about sticking to a budget, you’ll find that you have to add extra things to the budget as kids enter new phases of their lives.

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4. Sleep deprivation is rough.

I know very few (if any) people who aren’t at least slightly more cranky when they haven’t gotten enough sleep. If both parents are sleep-deprived, both are going to be crankier and more likely to snap at each other. And if only one parent is sleep-deprived, there’s a good chance he or she will be both cranky and slightly resentful.

Things that never seemed like a big deal before can suddenly become catastrophic when you’re operating on three hours of sleep.

5. It’s tricky to make time for sex.

If you’re constantly exhausted or have a child who likes to sneak in your bed a few hours after his own bedtime, finding time (and a place) for sex can take some creativity.

It’s still doable of course (otherwise no one would ever have more than a single child), but it’s harder to manage, at least for a while.

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6. There’s a lot less downtime.

A lot of the things that married couples do to recharge, unwind, and refresh go out the window or stop being relaxing when there are young kids in the house.

Before having kids, my husband and I used to take long walks together several times a week. We would talk about everything under the sun or enjoy the quiet and the scenery.

We still take walks, but now we’re accompanied by our kids, strollers and bikes, snacks and sippy cups. Halfway through, someone inevitably needs to poop or wants to be carried, and much of our conversation revolves around telling our kids to slow down, stay on the sidewalk, speed up, and not to touch strange dogs without asking. We often get back home more stressed out than when we left the house — not exactly relaxing couple time.

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The other day, as my husband and I attempted to have a conversation over the sounds of our 5-year-old and 2-and-a-half-year-old singing made-up songs at the top of their lungs, I remembered the woman from the online forum and wondered if she and her husband had had a baby despite all of the warnings she’d received from moms in the group.

I’ll probably never know the answer, but I do know this: Seeing my husband as a daddy has been one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever gotten to do with him.

I love to see how much he loves our children and how much they love him. If I could go back in time and have a do-over, I’d marry the same man and have our two kids all over again. But to be perfectly honest, life was a lot easier before we became parents.

For more from Bethany Neumeyer visit I Was Promised More NapsFacebook and Instagram.