When our first-born turned one I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen with Trent thinking, “I don’t really like you anymore.” Don’t get me wrong… he was still likable. It’s just that marriage after kids is very different from marriage before kids. We had just spent an entire year trying to figure out how to keep a child alive, and we hadn’t spent much time together – just the two of us.

We had learned, before we got married, about the “7-year itch.” The seven-year itch, as it’s called, is a term that describes feeling restless or dissatisfied in a relationship — typically at that seven-year mark. (Cleveland Clinic) Thankfully we knew this feeling of dissatisfaction was coming, so it didn’t take us off guard. I just explained what I was feeling to Trent. He mentioned feeling the same way, so we decided to do something about it.

Having a strong marriage is hard enough because it’s the coming together of two different people with different upbringings, personalities, and world views. Add in a stressor, like kids, and things can derail fast. Here are three things Trent and I have done to strengthen our marriage after kids. We hope they’ll be helpful for you too!

How to strengthen your marriage after kids

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage After Kids

1. Prioritize time together.

Date night? What’s that? You used to be able to just up and leave whenever you wanted and now leaving the house takes a planning committee. Spending time together after kids come along is probably going to look different, and guess what… that’s ok!

Tips for prioritizing intentional time with your spouse, sans kids:

Take advantage of opportunities for alone time at home.

  • Put on a movie once the kids go to bed (or during nap time if you can’t stay awake at night).
  • For older kids, put on a movie for them while you and your spouse go outside to hang out.
  • I wouldn’t recommend this as a regular occurrence, but every once in a while for dinner set your kids up in one area while you and your spouse go to another for a “date.” (upstairs/downstairs, inside/outside, kitchen/dining room)
  • Take your kids for a walk and listen to a podcast together or just talk. Have your kids ride their bikes while you trail slightly behind for added privacy.

Try a date night kid swap

This is one of our favorite ways to get free childcare. Find a family or two that you like and trust. Each month (or more frequently if everyone agrees) one of the couples will watch all the kids while the other couple(s) go out for a date. The next month all the kids rotate to a different house. If you have just one other couple involved you’ll be guaranteed six free date nights a year. Get two other couples and that number jumps up to eight.

If you have grandparents that are willing to watch the kids, but you feel bad asking them all the time, here’s an idea. Ask them if they’d be willing to watch the kids every First Friday or Second Saturday. That way you’re not calling them at random. It’s expected and everyone has agreed to it in advance.

2. Have more sex.

Sex is one of the first things to go once kids come around. You’re tired, probably haven’t showered in a few days, and might even be a bit traumatized from childbirth. On top of that, you now have a roommate or two that have no concept of privacy. But sex is important and you gotta do it!

Now, I want to acknowledge that there are a whole slew of things that can cause couples to struggle with sexual intimacy. Some of those things are very serious and can even be hurtful. If that describes you, the last thing I would ever tell you is to just suck it up and do it.

However, this is such an important part of marriage that I would plead with you to get help. You can reach out to your pastor, make an appointment with a Christian counselor, or start by reading this article by Focus on the Family.

If trauma isn’t what’s leading to a decrease in sexual activity (and it’s just because life is different with kids) I would recommend you have a good conversation with your spouse and get a little creative. Your marriage will thank you.

3. Have fun as a family.

This is an often overlooked way to strengthen a marriage. The thought is that kids create a sort of “wedge” in the marriage, so if you want your marriage to be better you need to get away from them. Though I don’t entirely disagree per se, I think that idea is a bit off.

When a mom or dad spends a lot of time with their kids without the other parent they’re essentially parenting alone, which can be similar to a single-parent home or a divorced marriage. (I’m not condemning any single or divorced parents… just making an observation.) Your kids need to see you interacting with one another, and it’s important for them to have shared experiences with both parents, together.

It’s good for them, and it’s good for you too.

When you spend time together as a family wives get to watch their husbands be good dads, and husbands get to watch their wives be good moms. That alone can strengthen your love for your spouse. Also, depending on what you’re doing during your family time it can cause the spouses to have to work together.

We enjoy taking long trips in our RV. They take a lot of advanced planning and teamwork. They’re not without their challenges, but those extended times as a family give Trent and me a chance to work towards a common goal, all while our kids watch.

One huge tip: make sure you’re having FUN! You need to laugh every once in a while. And remember, those kids of yours are both of yours. You started your family together, so keep it going together. Once the kids are gone they’ll have a great example for their own marriages and families. Plus, when your nest becomes empty your marriage won’t skip a beat 🙂

Because there’s a better way,

QUESTION: What’s something you do to strengthen your marriage? Did I miss something? Let us know ?

Check out the other blogs in this marriage series here: How to Improve Your Marriage and Make it Stronger
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