Question: Having children… does it bring a couple closer together, or does it tear them apart? Can your marriage survive your kids?
Answer: Tears them apart, of course! Takes your easy breezy, “on Saturday mornings, we spoon each other in bed until about 10 am, at which point we leisurely stretch, get up, go for brunch, and laugh and talk for hours” kind of marriage, tears it limb for limb, tosses the pieces aside, stomps on them, and then demands a cup of milk and breakfast…all before 7 am.
(and also not) (#kiddingnotkidding)
Seriously though….does having a baby (or four) together, draw two people closer? Can your marriage survive your kids?
My real answer is this: I think initially, and eventually, but maybe not always in the middle.
Initially: you created a child together. You brought new life into the world, and you did that together, and that child is a piece of you, a piece of him….it’s both of you, entwined forever. It’s something you share with each other that no one else ever will. You share a common love that no one else but the two of you will ever fully grasp. And then….you bring that child home and you have no idea what you are doing. None. Zilch. And you have to lean on each other to figure it all out…and you feel so proud of yourself and him when you get it right. You appreciate each other in a new whole new way, as you fill in where he is weak, and vice versa. You feel so close to each other.
Eventually: You gaze in pride and admiration at the grown adult standing in front of you, that you and he have raised together. You guys did it! 18 years of blood, sweat, tears, and memories, and look how amazing that child turned out. You did that…together. You feel so close to each other.
Then there’s the middle part. That time that comes after the “initially” and before the “eventually”?
That’s when it’s hard.
That’s when it’s “surviving.”
I don’t mean “surviving” in the way you may think. I don’t mean the depressing form of “surviving” as in “we’re on the verge of death, starved and parched, and literally all we are managing is pure survival.”
I don’t mean that at all. That is not how I would describe my marriage, anyway.
I think I actually mean it with somewhat of a positive connotation…like when you think of a person who is a “survivor.” In that context, words like “strong,” “fighter,” “resourceful,” “resilient” come to mind.
Ya’ll..I think I’m about to quote Beyoncé. Yeah, I’m gonna do it, because I think the chorus of her song “Survivor” needs to be the battle cry, for all of us who are married with kids.
“I’m a survivor, I’m not gon’ give up, I’m not gon’ stop, I’m gon’ work harder, I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it, I will survive, keep on survivin'”
Kids can do a real number on your relationship, I’m TELLING you. You have less time together. The time you do have, you are EXHAUSTED. You have to make so many decisions together, that actually impact a little person’s LIFE…and who is to say you are going to agree on most (any?) of those decisions? You’re emotionally, physically, and mentally depleted a lot of the time, and therefore, you don’t have a lot to give.
You gotta just survive, man.
And yet…I still say “survive” in a positive way, because if you do it…if you don’t give up, don’t stop, work harder, make it…you know, all the things Beyoncé recommends…what you are ultlimately saying is, “this is hard. At times, so very hard. But you…WE….are worth it. Maintaining that which makes us “us” is so WORTH the fight. So let’s keep at it. Let’s keep on survivin’.
Let’s keep at it, even in the midst of the tiredness, the frayed nerves, the constant noise and activity, the limited alone time. Let’s keep at it. Let’s keep on survivin’.
Let’s keep at it, even in the midst of interrupted conversation, strategic and planned for “spontaneity”, and lots of nights in a row that don’t consist of anything more exciting than Netflix binging. Let’s keep at it. Let’s keep on survivin’.
Let’s keep at it, even though getting away alone together for even just two measly days requires so many arrangements, it almost seems as though it’s not worth it. But it is, it always is. So let’s keep at it. Let’s keep on survivin’.
Let’s keep at it, because you are worth it to me, and I’m worth it to you. Your marriage will survive your kids.
Honey, let’s keep on survivin’.
(And remember….eventually they’ll move out, and then we can spend that entire summer on the Italian coast like you’ve always wanted to do.)