how having children changes your relationship with your partner: paper dolls holding hands

How does having children change your relationship with your partner? While some say their partner felt ignored, others say that becoming parents actually improved their marriage and some insist they have no time to dedicate to themselves, let alone the time or energy needed to make a relationship survive. Here, 15 women are brutally honest about how becoming parents affected their romantic relationships.

We were on the same page

I wouldn’t say that my partner became LESS important to me after we had kids but our children just became more important than anything else. Thankfully, my partner and I both feel that way so we are at least on the same page – although I’m not sure that’s a good thing because it means our relationship might not survive.

We have different parenting styles

I’d always assumed my husband and I would have similar parenting styles but we’re so different that it causes a lot of conflict. He has adopted the ‘authoritarian’ parenting style while I’m much softer. It’s not a problem we ever anticipated having but it’s the biggest issue we’re currently dealing with in our marriage.

It gets better

Our marriage (and our sex life!) is better than ever and we have three kids now. Not only am I more comfortable than ever in my (admittedly not perfect) post-partum body, but my husband and I are so comfortable with each other after more than a decade together as a couple. Women should know that relationships and sex can be BETTER after babies!

how having children changes your relationship with your partner: paper doll family holding hands

We’re okay… but I’m not

I was very conscious of the fact that expanding our family could impact my romantic relationship in a negative way so we did all the ‘right’ things: made time for each other, scheduled a date night and prioritised our connection. The result? Our relationship is still solid. But I’m so busy taking care of kids and making sure my relationship survives that I have absolutely no time for myself. My mental health is suffering and although all my relationships are okay, I’m definitely not.

My husband became a stranger

Between midnight (and 2am and 5am!) feedings for my newborn, taking my toddler to school and putting in a full day at work, I was exhausted. There was nothing left for me to give to my husband and unfortunately it meant we drifted apart. By the time our last child turned two we realised we were strangers who were living in the same house and we had nothing to talk about except for the kids.

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All my relationships changed

It’s not just my relationship with my partner that has changed since I became a mom – I have completely different relationships with my extended family and friends now too. It’s because I simply can’t put the same amount of time and energy into those relationships anymore: my child comes first.

It takes hard work

If you want your romantic relationship to stay the same after you have kids, you have to work really hard at it. You have to work even harder if you want it to improve.

We only spoke about the baby

Our interactions became transactional: it’s your turn to give her a bottle, can you change her nappy, is it my night to cook dinner? Months passed before we realised that we’d not ‘checked in’ with each other to see how the other was coping or feeling. It’s scary how quickly it happens and it can easily spiral to the point of no return.

I see him in a new light

From the moment we welcomed our twins into the world I saw my partner in a completely different light. He’s the same incredible man I married but he is suddenly so much more than that: he’s an amazingly patient and kind father who would do anything for our family. I see him in a new light and it has undoubtedly improved our relationship.

We schedule everything

Gone are the days of going out for dinner without planning it 2-3 days in advance. With three children, we’re so rushed off our feet that we barely have time to shower, let alone have on a date night. So we now schedule everything, including the 30 minutes we spend every night just catching up on our days. If we didn’t, we’d never have time to connect.

how having children changes your relationship with your partner: broken heart held together with a plaster

He felt ignored

Of course I knew life would be different once we had kids but I wasn’t expecting my relationship with my husband to change as much as it did. Suddenly the relationship that I’d always put first had to take a back seat. I was so busy looking after our son that I didn’t realise how hard the adjustment had been on my husband. He said I barely ever spoke to him anymore.

I told him to leave me

When I was struggling with postnatal depression after the birth of my daughter I kept telling my husband to ‘leave me and find someone who would be a better mom’ to our child. I pushed him away – repeatedly, and I am so grateful that he didn’t go. But we had to go for marriage counseling for a few months to find our ‘new normal’ after having kids.

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Sex, what sex? 

After welcoming our daughter a year after our wedding, we were both so busy and exhausted that sex was honestly the last thing on my mind (or his). The longer I went without it, the less I missed it and the more I started to see our relationship as one similar to roommates, rather than lovers. We’re still together but I don’t know how to get the magic back.

How do I move past this?

I wish I didn’t but I started resenting my boyfriend almost immediately after we became parents. The division of responsibilities when it comes to childrearing just isn’t fair on women. Yes, he helps out with our kids and is the main breadwinner but the majority of the childcare falls on me. I still love him but I’m finding it difficult to move past the resentment I feel.

I remembered my mom’s advice

Long before we had kids, I remember my mom telling me that if parents prioritise and nurture their own relationship that the children will be okay. So far, that has worked for us!

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