12 Moms Confess How Kids Changed Their Marriages for the Better ... or Worse

Leah Maxwell | Dec 26, 2014 Love & Sex

family feet in bed

To state the obvious: Marriage is complicated.

Even in the best circumstances, it isn’t always easy to negotiate the details of a shared life, from big stuff -- do you move across the country to start a new career? -- to small stuff -- do you invest your year-end bonus or spend it on a new TV? -- to everything in between. Bring kids into the mix and you suddenly have a whole new set of details to negotiate, and often on just a few hours of fragmented sleep.

Raising kids changes a marriage, it just does, and although it’s not all good, it’s not all bad either. Here, 12 real moms share the most profound changes in their relationships when they made the transition from couplehood to family life.

How did your marriage change after you had kids?


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  • He just didn’t get it.

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    “Three weeks in with our first baby and I felt like it would be easier alone. It was like he was living our old life. The newborn phase is like the first trimester for men, and it really takes a while for it to sink in that this is all the time and nothing is going back. Eventually he jumped in more and I asked for more, and I became who I am now, which is different than being my old self. My husband is a great dad and husband, but I really hated him for six weeks.” -- Kelly*, 36, Stanwood, Washington

    *Names have been changed.

  • He wants to connect, but I need my space.

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    “The reality of being completely tapped out at the end of the day and craving solitude isn’t on the list of marriage savers. I’m a total introvert at heart and crave solitude so much. He wants comfort that he still matters. I want to be left alone.” -- Marta, 37, San Francisco, California

  • I love him more than ever.

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    “I feel like the minute I found out I was pregnant with our daughter, I had this whole new level of love for my husband. There are hard times, sure, but knowing we have that forever-bond through our child had made me love him in a way I never did before. Seeing him be a dad makes me appreciate him so much more, and to know that we created this person, this life together is unlike anything else I’ve experienced.” -- Alyson, 36, Seattle, Washington

  • We had to start over from scratch.

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    “I feel like having a kid sets off a bomb in your whole life and then you have to figure out how to rebuild it all. I remember holding my week-old son, looking at my husband, and thinking, ‘Huh, I never realized before that you are so annoying,’ and then thinking, ‘Shit. Now we have a kid and I am totally stuck.’ This was 100 percent the lack of sleep talking.” -- Jayne, 36, St. Paul, Minnesota

  • Raising a kid contributed to our divorce.

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    “I’d never say this anywhere it might get back to my son, but dealing with his behavior issues put a lot of extra stress on my marriage, and instead of bringing us closer, I think it contributed to our divorce. Everything just became too much, and for me it seemed easier if I could just focus on my son without having to worry about someone else’s needs. There were other things wrong with the relationship, and I know it was the right decision, but I do wonder if there might have been a way to make it work. That’s life, I guess.” -- Elise, 45, Jackson, Mississippi   

  • His mother drives me crazy!

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    "The hardest thing for me since having kids has been dealing with my mother-in-law. My husband is a total mama’s boy and it drives me nuts because he will kowtow to his mom on everything, and it’s become more pronounced since we’ve had kids. He never sees my side and gets mad that I can’t just love his mom as much as he does. I’ve learned to grin and bear it, because neither of them will change, but as much as I love having local grandparents who will babysit whenever we ask, I do often feel like I’d rather have to pay a neighbor kid to watch the girls than bite my tongue yet again. It’s probably the thing we fight about more than anything." -- Aria, 32, Leesburg, Virginia

  • He doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a mom.

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    “My husband totally knows what kids need and how to do stuff, but he does NOT understand that baby crying = PRIMAL REACTION from mom. He thinks it’s an ‘I don’t like hearing him cry’ response when, NOPE. It’s my monkey brain! If my husband wants to let me relax but the baby cries, I hear it and react, which makes him frustrated that he couldn’t give me what I needed. Those are hard times.” -- Rachel, 38, Durham, North Carolina

  • We don’t have sex.

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    “Sex? That’s pretty much the farthest thing from my mind. Even now that I’m done nursing my kids, I still feel like people are touching my body ALL DAY LONG. Once the kids are in bed, I just want to have myself to myself, you know? I’m sure my husband is frustrated, and, poor guy, I know it’s hard on him, but I’m tired, and sometimes I have to put my own needs before his. I’m just not the person I was before we had kids, and I don’t know if I ever will be.” -- Heather, 35, Alameda, California

  • He had a breakdown.

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    “After my son was born, my husband was utterly useless. I believe it kick-started a midlife crisis of some sort, and he was lost for years. It was hard and I gave up once, but he got better. I’m actually really proud of how he’s stepped up to provide for us now.” --Elizabeth, 31, Florence, Colorado

  • It takes effort to make each other a priority.

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    “It is seriously hard to not put the kid first all the time. My husband and I really have to work to find time for us. We try to take advantage of all the free/cheap childcare we can so we can have date nights. Our church has monthly parents’ nights out and we are members at the Y, which also offers childcare on certain weekends.” --Carmen, 37, Round Rock, Texas

  • Going back to work almost ruined everything.

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    “With my oldest, the first six weeks were perfect. They were seriously like an amazing honeymoon; the love was overflowing. But when I went back to work, resentment was so strong on both sides, I thought I’d be packing up the baby and moving in with my parents.” -- Candice, 32, Sterling Heights, Michigan

  • The expense of raising kids puts stress on our relationship.

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    “Once we had two kids in daycare and preschool, we found we both needed to work twice as hard to make ends meet. I took on extra hours at work, and my husband started looking for side jobs. Now, not only are we more stressed out in general and more quick to argue about money, we see less of each other overall. I miss having downtime to connect the way we used to. I’m hoping it’s just a phase.” -- Kathleen, 39, Berkeley, California


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