Without a doubt, having kids can be stressful, expensive, and exhausting, and it can put a strain on your relationship. You’re suddenly responsible for the care and upbringing of this precious little person (or little people), and that can feel like a heavy weight that only gets heavier as the years go on.
Studies show married couples with children reported lower “marital satisfaction” than those who did not have children. Different research shows that after 18 or 20 years of marriage — about the time kids have grown up and moved out of the house — couples who stayed together were able to rekindle passion and connection.
The time in between the honeymoon and empty nest phases of life, however, wasn’t all that happy.
Of course, these surveys and studies don’t dictate what your experience has to be. There are plenty of folks who create happy, close and passionate marriages — and they have children, too.
It’s not always easy to keep your marriage healthy and connected when you have a family, but it’s most definitely possible. You may actually find that your relationship is better off because of your decision to have kids.
Here are 6 reasons why having kids is good for your marriage.
1. Your focus shifts.
When you have children who need your care, attention and love, you have to shift at least some of your focus back to them. It can be too easy to become a workaholic or obsessed with your job or community status, but having kids draws you back home.
No matter how busy you and your spouse are, home is what ties you together and reinforces your bond with one another.
2. You lighten up.
Yes, kids can sometimes be frustrating, irritating, and even infuriating, but they can also be funny. Very funny!
Whether it’s your baby blowing raspberries, your preschooler learning how to crack jokes, or your teenager sharing an amusing insight, your children can help you lighten up and take life a little less seriously. The great thing about lightening up is you’ll be more fun and easygoing with your partner, too.
3. You think twice before making big decisions.
If you’re like most people, you cringe when you think back to some of the impulsive and not-so-smart choices you made in your young adult years. When you have children, you’re less likely to jump into a situation that may have lasting consequences and hurt your family.
This is great for your marriage because you’re more likely to pause and consult with your partner about what you both think would be best.
4. You value the alone time you DO have with your spouse.
Between child care, home care, pet care, and transporting your kids to and from school and extracurriculars, it can be tough to find a moment alone with your partner. This can bring distance to your marriage, but it doesn’t have to.
When you make regular time — even if it’s 5 or 10 minutes a day — to check in with each other and connect, it makes a big difference. Because, in this phase of your lives, alone time is a limited quantity, you’re going to treasure it and make the most of it.
5. You learn to work as a team.
With kids, there are frequently challenges to overcome and mysteries to unravel: “Why is the baby doing that?” “What does our teenager mean when she says that?”
No matter the situation, marriages thrive when a couple learns how to come together and work as a team. It’s not just for the good of your children, it’s for the good of your relationship, too.
6. You’re inspired to be a better you.
As we said, parents are under a lot of pressure. One pressure that many feel is to be a positive role model for their kids. One potential benefit of this pressure is that your kids inspire you to be better than you were before. After all, they’re watching you and following your example!
As you take on the challenge and start cleaning up bad habits and making improvements, you’ll also feel more confident and clear which makes you a better spouse.
So before you dismiss the idea of having children because you’re worried about what that will do to your marriage, re-consider. Build on these potential positives that having a family can bring to your marriage and discover new reasons of your own.