How to Keep Marriage Strong After Kids: 20 Insightful Tips

couple keeping marriage strong after kids

Parenting is hard and makes it difficult to stay connected with your spouse. I surveyed over 300 married couples and found that only 53% prioritize their marriage.

Those who do prioritize their marriage report feeling happier and more secure in their relationship. If this is true, why aren’t more couples prioritizing their marriages? The answer is simple: life gets in the way. Here are 20 tips on how to keep marriage strong after kids!

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Why is marriage so hard after baby?

Babies (and kids for that matter!) are a lot of work! They require your absolute full attention most of the time. You can easily get caught up in the endless tasks that are required for a baby. You forget to take care of yourself and your marriage.

Things change after having a baby. You and your husband used to be able to go out for lunch or go on a day trip to a nearby town. But all of that changes after a baby. It becomes immensely harder to do the things you used to do. It can feel like your marriage changes overnight. This change can be very tough on a marriage.

I share some of our experiences in the Final Thoughts section below.

How do I maintain my relationship with my husband after having a baby?

Patience and dedication are required to keep a relationship strong after having a baby.

You’ll find detailed tips below so you can get started on keeping your marriage strong after baby.

What percentage of couples stay together after having a baby?

A study done by The Denver Post found that 90% of couples experience a decline in marital bliss after they have their first baby. An article by Good to Know cites that “a fifth of parents break-up in the year after having a baby”.

But don’t let these numbers scare you. Use them as reassurance that you’re not alone. Start making changes now to improve and restore your marriage.

how to keep marriage strong quote

How to keep marriage strong after baby

Below are the things we’ve done to strengthen our marriage. We’ve come to realize how incredibly important they are for any marriage after kids.

How to reconnect with your partner after having a baby

1. Look out for each other

My first tip might be the most important. If one of you isn’t doing well, the marriage is inevitably going to suffer.

Babies and kids take a lot out of you. So look out for each other. What does your spouse need? Does your wife need to treat herself to a massage? Does your husband need a night “off” to decompress?

It can be easy to take things out on each other. So don’t let it come to that. Take care of each other so that you can then take care of your marriage.

2. Be strong for each other

What if you are both struggling? There will be times (especially after a long night with the baby) when both of you will have reached your limits.

Let’s say the baby has been sleeping particularly badly. And you’ve both been up most nights for hours. But your husband has to go to work in the morning.

This is the time to step up and be there for your husband. Take an extra night shift so your husband can rest for work. You can always let the chores slide a bit the next day so you can take a nap and recharge.

Even after the baby phase, there will be times when your kids test your patience beyond its limits. Be strong when you see that your spouse needs you to make up for their lack of strength at the moment.

couple keeping their marriage strong through laughter

3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable

You feel so many emotions when you have a baby, especially with your first. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with your spouse. Open up and tell them how you feel. Chances are, your spouse has been feeling the same way.

If it helps, start your conversation with expectations such as:

  • “I’ve had a rough day and really need to vent. Please listen and just let me talk.”
  • “I’m struggling with something and need your help in coming up with ideas to fix it.”

Letting your spouse know if they need to go into “fix it mode” is helpful for both partners!

4. Respect each other

Respect each other’s boundaries and wishes. When your spouse expresses the need to be alone and decompress, listen to them.

Your spouse needs to feel valued and respected. Listen to your spouse and don’t make them feel badly for something they might be feeling.

Related post: To the Husbands Who Travel for Work: How to Connect with Your Wives

5. Respect each other’s parenting styles

Just because you and your spouse have the same values and morals, doesn’t mean you will always agree on how to parent your children. Josh and I agree on a lot. But it came as a surprise to find out that we didn’t always agree on parenting styles.

So what do you do if you disagree? Here are some simple, summarized steps:

  • First of all, respect your spouse’s parenting style
  • Next, listen to each other. Dig deep and find out why each of you wants to approach a situation differently.
  • Find common ground.
  • Take turns trying out each other’s styles.
  • Talk some more. What has gone right? What could be improved? Did your husband have a good idea about the baby’s sleep schedule? Did your wife handle a particular feeding issue well? Praise each other on the good and discuss the bad. But always do it respectfully.
couple keeping their marriage strong after kids by making time for each other

6. Make time for each other

If you don’t spend time together, your marriage is going to suffer. It’s as simple as that. Numbers 8 and 9 below have some specific ideas on how to squeeze a little extra time for your spouse.

Don’t forget to also make date night a priority. You need dedicated time to connect with your spouse.

7. Make time for yourselves

This one might seem contradictory to the last tip, but it goes back to my point about looking out for each other. If you’re not taking care of yourselves, you won’t be able to focus on your marriage.

Here are some tips to make time for yourself:

  • Trade nights doing the kid’s bedtime routines. The spouse with the night off gets a full hour to themselves to do anything they want.
  • Give each other longer breaks. These will be harder to fit in but will mean the world as you begin to look forward to your “break”.
  • Be honest and realistic about responsibilities. What chores need to get done? Can the dishes or laundry wait another day so you can read for 30 minutes or take a long bath?

8. Teach your kids to help

This isn’t a tip for babies. But the baby phase only lasts a year. Begin to get into the mindset that your children need to contribute to the family.

When our son was 2 years old, we started his first “chore”: wiping down the table after meals. He was so excited to help out. At that age, they want to help, so take advantage of it. Now at the age of 5, he does a few other chores and actually has fun doing them.

So how does this help strengthen your marriage? The more your kids help out, the less you have to do. If you’re always picking up their toys and cleaning up after them, you’ll have a lot less time for your spouse.

This step takes a lot of time, effort, and patience. But believe me: it’s worth it!

Related post: 13 Amazing Benefits of Couples Who Workout Together

9. Teach your kids to play by themselves

This is an idea that Josh had when our son was about 6 months old. I honestly didn’t believe babies could play independently. But we slowly started showing him that playing by himself could be a lot of fun. (Disclaimer: this can only be done when you’ve already spent time with your child. They need to play with you too!)

Our son is the most creative when he’s been playing alone. It’s been an amazing and unexpected benefit.

And Josh and I can squeeze in a little extra time together! Do you wish you could cook dinner with your spouse? Or watch a short episode of your favorite show? It’s amazing how much connecting you can fit in when your kids are happily playing by themselves.

If you’d like more help with implementing independent play, I wrote a guest post for my friend at Kin Unplugged. You can find it here.

couple keeping their marriage strong after baby

10. Listen

When your spouse expresses their emotions, listen. Ask questions and try to understand how they feel.

This is so much more important after you have kids. After a long day of your kids not listening to you, the last thing you need is for your spouse to ignore you too!

If the kids are making it tough to pay attention to your spouse, set aside some time so you can truly listen to them. Make sure you give your spouse your full attention when they really need it.

11. Communicate

Share your thoughts and feelings with your spouse. Your spouse needs to know what’s going on with you: the good, the bad, the boring, etc.

Kids make communicating so difficult. You’re constantly doing things for them. And once they learn to speak, it sometimes feels like they never stop.

This is where making time for your spouse is so important. Make sure you are using that time to talk to each other. Catch each other up on the important things but don’t forget to also talk about more than just work and the kids. Here are our favorite conversation starters to help you.

12. Appreciate each other – and show it!

Appreciating your spouse is so important. But don’t stop there. Make sure you show your appreciation.

Start by asking your spouse this question: “Do you feel appreciated?” Do not get defensive. Listen to what your spouse has to say and make changes as needed.

Need help appreciating your spouse? Here’s a post I wrote on how to appreciate your husband. But the tips can easily be applied to wives too!

keeping your marriage strong quote

13. Have healthy conflict

Conflict in a marriage is not necessarily a bad thing. During conflict, you can learn a lot about each other. In fact, I’m willing to bet a lot of conflicts even stem from miscommunication (like it does in our marriage).

The difference is that your conflict needs to be healthy. Set ground rules such as:

  • We will not bring up past grievances, unless relevant to the issue.
  • We will speak respectfully to each other.
  • We will step away and calm down if we can’t speak in a respectful tone.

Having kids can unfortunately exacerbate conflict in your marriage. After a long day of your toddler yelling at you, it can be hard to calmly talk through an issue with your spouse. Kids wind you up and will leave you feeling agitated. So don’t try to fix an issue if you are too on edge to do so.

14. Make forgiving a habit

Let’s be honest here: you are going to fail. As a husband, wife, father, mother. You are going to make mistakes. We all have our moments.

BUT we all have our good moments. When your spouse fails or makes a mistake, forgive them. It’s what you will want the next time you make a mistake.

Create a loving, forgiving, kind home that your children will likely imitate.

15. Be romantic

Romance is so important to a marriage, especially after kids.

If you severely lack the ability to be romantic, you’ll want to read my interview with a romance coach. Josie from Romance Enhanced has dedicated herself to helping couples find romance. You’ll find amazing products, like the Night of Massage Game or the Kiss & Tell Game.

Here’s my unboxing of the Night of Massage Game:

So we made changes and our marriage grew to a whole new level. Our love is deeper and full of more respect than ever.

16. See the good

After kids, it can be very easy to focus on the bad. There are a lot of tough times. Instead, challenge yourself to focus on the good.

Try taking this a step further. Point out the good to your spouse. Did you catch your spouse doing something awesome for your kids? Tell them. Thank them. It feels good to know your actions are getting noticed.

17. Have fun together

What did you enjoy doing before kids? How can you make time for that again? Josh and I have always loved playing board games. It’s one of our go-to at home dates after the kids go to bed.

18. Build strong emotional intimacy

Emotional intimacy is so important for a marriage. It can be easy to forget about this crucial part of your relationship after kids. It’s so easy to get caught up in your work, kids, and responsibilities.

But building emotional intimacy has so many amazing benefits. Here’s some more info on how to do it.

This one has so many layers. It can mean:

  • Asking for help for your marriage from a counselor
  • Asking family to help with the kids so you and your spouse can have alone time or go on a date

Talk to your spouse and figure out what help you both need so that your marriage doesn’t suffer. If you’re unsure, try different things out until you find something that works.

how to improve marriage after baby

20. Look into each other’s eyes

Having kids gets to be a little crazy. Between the baby refusing to eat her solids and the toddler talking your ear off, you can forget to look at each other. Occasionally, when things are getting a little out of hand with the kids, lock eyes with your spouse.

This will do 2 things:

  1. Keep you calm
  2. Connect you with your spouse

Feeling disconnected from husband after baby

Are you feeling disconnected from your husband since the baby was born? You’re not alone. The more parents I talk to, the more I hear the same thing: it’s hard to connect with your spouse after kids.

The good news is that it’s not impossible. If you’re really struggling, make sure to sit down with your spouse and talk about it. Or seek outside help from a counselor.

Related post: How to Appreciate Your Husband: 8 Simple and Effective Ways

improve your marriage after baby

Final thoughts: how to keep marriage strong after kids

Your marriage is important. It’s the foundation of your family. I know kids take a lot of work but prioritizing your marriage is going to create a loving atmosphere for your family.

This topic is dear to me. Yes, it’s the whole premise behind my blog. But it goes deeper than that:

After we had our son, my husband Josh and I felt blindsided. We were so unbelievably naive about what it would be like to have a baby. We had heard all of the “babies are tough” general stories. But we had no idea.

What made things even harder was the strain it would put on our marriage. Pre-kids, Josh and I did everything together: we are best friends. But after we had our first baby, we quickly realized things were changing.

We couldn’t be together all of the time. We couldn’t even do the things we used to love doing together.

So we made changes and our marriage grew to a whole new level. Our love is deeper and full of more respect than ever.

2 thoughts on “How to Keep Marriage Strong After Kids: 20 Insightful Tips”

  1. Wow I never really understand how a baby could possibly make marriages more difficult, but reading this opened my eyes. I’m glad there are ways you can stay connected even after having a baby.

    1. Goodness, we were so unprepared for how hard a baby would be on our marriage. I’m hoping others can learn from all the little things we do to stay connected!

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