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Relationships and Kids

Author: Naomi Liddell

How would you say having kids has affected your relationship with your partner? This is a conversation that was sparked between myself and some friends lately and brought up a heap of different, diverse experiences and opinions. The one thing that we all shared though was that looking after both relationships and kids is a difficult balance to strike.

For one friend, she felt that her relationship with her husband became more solid, like they were an indestructible team after the birth of their first child. For a couple of us, we agreed that having kids made balancing our relationship more difficult, but the happy moments were pure joy and worth all the hard work. One friend said that she felt like she was in a tunnel during the baby years and only now her daughter’s at school, was starting to see the light at the end of it (and her relationship). And one of my lovely pals said that the birth of her son was the moment she knew her marriage was over. They amicably separated when her youngest boy was 8 months old and she’s never been happier. 

 

While I know there are a host of family configurations and dynamics out there, I can only speak from my experience. For Gavin and I, having children has been exactly what we want, but it has been far from easy. Luckily, we’re both very good at communicating with each other and I honestly do think that is key. The thing that we’ve both brought to the table is that being parents makes us both feel a hell of a lot more buttoned up and serious. Maybe it’s the weight of responsibility or just falling too much into routine, but our main goal is to remember to keep things light. Admittedly that part is hard when our baby has just flipped a bowl of porridge onto the carpet…

There is also a lot of duty involved in raising kids. There are a ton of things that we need to do that we don’t particularly *want* to do. Dentists appointments, swimming lessons, tidying messes that we didn’t make (every damn day), buying new school shoes, dealing with seemingly irrational emotional meltdowns (and not always my own) and asking our five year old to put his shoes on 6000 times before we leave the house every day. 

It doesn’t leave too much room for the flirty, fun, carefree feeling we had at the beginning of our relationship. It’s changed. Day to day it’s morphed into a beautiful system. A tight-knit team that can handball kids and their needs back and forth pretty efficiently, but that kind of systematic life doesn’t leave too much room for mystery and romance. 

We make an effort to make space for the romance. Whether it’s in house date nights, a night away in a hotel somewhere, or a chance to head out together with friends. One of my favourite things in the world is to stand at the other end of a room with my pals and catch a glimpse of Gavin laughing while he’s talking to someone else. It reminds me that we’re two different people, that I’m still super into him and that life isn’t all just about nappy changes, school forms and flopping on the couch like a burst ball the end of the day. We’re planning our first trip away without the boys next year. I’m simultaneously delighted about being alone with my husband and nervous about leaving my sprogs. But I think it will do us good. 

 

With all that being said, nothing comes close to experiencing joy together with our kids. Those moments when our little family of four are falling about the living room laughing. When we all celebrated Finn starting to crawl. Spontaneous trips to beautiful parks where Ethan runs and Gavin and I follow behind, hand in hand. Late night checks on the kids where we both linger in the doorway looking at their perfect little sound asleep faces. Knowing that we’re doing our damned best to bring them up in a loving, safe home. 

For us, having children has been gorgeous, momentous, terrifying, exhilarating, boring, loving, frustrating and a whole other host of juxtaposed emotions. I suppose, though, that’s life in general. And really, there is no one else in the world I would want to share the crazy trip with other than him. 

Has having children changed your relationship? Are you closer, further apart or learning that you’ll drift back and forth between both like us?

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Author
Naomi can’t decide which she loves more: adventuring with her boys or being left alone in a luxurious bath with a great book.
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21 thoughts on “Relationships and Kids

  1. Hey Naomi,

    I love this! Everything you’ve said rings true for me. My husband and I had an incredible life before kids, visiting lots of luxury hotels, dinners out and never-ending lazy mornings in bed. Now we’re up at the crack of dawn and it’s non stop until around 8pm (with a few night wakings thrown in for good measure). I’m more tired, more stressed and have way less time for him – we spend a lot of time just talking about the girls or living logistically. But like you, when I do come up for air I see that I have a life surrounded by love. I love our daughters more than I knew I could love. And that makes it worth it. And yes, keeping the romance in the marriage is tough between the stress and the sleep deprivation but occasionally we grab a moment to ourselves and I remember why I married him (not just because he can change nappies at the speed of light and sing Wheels on the Bus backwards!) I wouldn’t be in this beautiful madness or mess with anybody else.

    1. Aw Jess! You have me welling up. I’m glad I’m not the only one. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking to post personal things like this. And I am incredibly impressed that your man can sing Wheels on the Bus backwards! I wonder if it gets easier to make time for each other when they grow up? I do miss the lazy mornings in bed!

  2. Just a good topic to talk about, everyone with children must go through tough stages in their relationship, it’s not always easy to talk about it. We have gone through some tough stages after having babies, it was only temporary but it felt horrible and the time, and as soon as we opened up to each other and chatted about it, everything got so much easier.

    1. Aw Karen, what a compliment, thank you! It’s nice to know that what I’m experiencing resonates with other people in the same position!

  3. I love this piece. Just taking the time to reflect on it all is impressive enough in a hectically busy family! So much if it rings true with me. I have fallen more in love with my husband since we’ve had kids, although we have far less time for each other and I would love more date nights and attention, I get so much more out of seeing him interacting with and loving our children. It’s also an amazing feeling to know that I’ll never leave him and we’ll grow old through this crazy life together – a feeling I’m not entirely sure I had when we got married!! Thanks for writing this 🙂

    1. Rosie I so agree with the love of seeing them play and interact with the kids. It’s so heartwarming.

  4. Love this post! And well done for taking some time out together and with friends together too. You’ve reminded me to do this!! Let us know about your child free trip too

    1. Oh I will Sarah! It’s funny how things I love doing like spending time with friends can easily slip down the to-do list. So important though!

  5. Great post Naomi. I’m struggling with the balance just now, the kids and work have to come first which means time for my hubby and myself are very much on the back burner. But I know it’s temporary while they are so wee and he’s still my best friend, my rock and my soul mate.

    1. I think it’s totally fine when the relationship has to go on the back burner for a while. As long as you’re still communicating. I’ve lost count of the number of times Gavin and I have flopped into bed and said ‘hi’ to each other and laughed because the day has been so hectic we haven’t had a chance to properly acknowledge each other! 😂

  6. Great post, well done for being brave and writing something so personal! It certainly rings true for me too, our evenings are spent ticking things off a to-do list or sitting on the sofa barely able to speak, hardly romantic!! But I love my husband so much, we just need to try to carve out more time for each other which is easier said than done when the littles are so little. In time I hope it gets easier. xx

    1. I’m certain it does Annie. There are 4 years between my babies and before we had Finn, there was definitely more time as Ethan got more independent. Then we went back to square one again! Ha. I think those micro-moments of a cuddle in the kitchen or a loving word said in passing can really keep you going through the young baby days.

  7. I read an article recently in Marie Claire which really struck a chord with me, about the early years with kids being like time in the trenches, and whilst it’s full of joy there often isn’t a lot of time for your relationship beyond snatched moments and the occasional nackered date night. What really resonated with me was the writer’s take on this, that it’s so important to not drift apart in these circumstances and to remember your relationship isn’t broken, it’s just simmering on a lower heat and if you keep it bubbling along gently then eventually you will come out of the trenches and it will blossom again. Lots of mixed metaphors there but the message I took from it was not to give up on our relationship, to make sure we work at it but similarly not to despair if we don’t manage date nights every month and end up co-sleeping with a poorly toddler. We have to maintain faith in the foundation of our relationship, believe it’s strong enough and stay on the same page, rather than questioning it. If any of that makes sense?! xx

    1. India that is some serious wisdom right there!! Makes SO much sense. I like the idea of it gently simmering on a low heat… It definitely gives a sense of the impermanence to it.

      1. Also forgot to say the article was written by a man! Sometimes different perspectives make us wise apparently! Xx

      1. Me too, it really made me feel better about things actually! Gave me clarity as sometimes it’s easy to worry isn’t it. Xx

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