Couple with 2 children under 5 years old
How has your relationship with each other changed since having children?
Wife: We understand each other on a deeper level now. Having kids, you see the other both at their best and their worst. We’ve had some rough patches but we’ve come out stronger from it.
Husband: Now we have a story together, shared loads of experiences; good and bad, and it is harder to think of a life without her.
What do you do to keep developing your marriage relationship while raising children?
Wife: Ironically enough, I make an effort to take care of my needs first. When I take care of myself I can approach my husband from a place of genuine love and affection rather than from a place of neediness and desperation. That and setting aside time to really talk and be vulnerable about whatever happens to be going on in life. In the crazy busy life with kids, it’s important to make time to connect and catch-up.
Husband: Be dependable, set aside time for each other and have fun when you can.
How did you decide together about what values and spiritual traditions you want to raise your children with?
Wife: Haha, we should probably have that talk soon. So far we’ve just rolled with it and tried to survive living with toddlers.
Husband: Haven’t gotten there yet; but want my kids to experience our “core teaching” and be dependable people.
What were the main challenges you experienced your first year as a parent?
Wife: sleep deprivation, physical pain months after the birth, the stress of trying to keep a little baby alive, healthy and happy…there was very little room in my head for anything relationship related
Husband: Getting time for yourself, lack of sleep and trying to get attention from your wife that’s always tired….
What were the key decisions/efforts you made to overcome these challenges?
Wife: I made the clear decision to start having sex again as soon as I felt physically capable. It was an intellectual decision for the sake of our relationship. Pleasure didn’t come back for months and real desire didn’t come back for years, but I knew it was important for our relationship and for me to get back in touch with my body after the trauma of giving birth. I knew that the longer I waited, the more anxiety would build around it, and so I wanted to get our first time after birth out of the way as soon as possible. Later on we had phases of doing it more or less depending on exhaustion levels but I was happy to be free of the stress of the first time.
Husband: Let my wife focus on the baby. There wasn’t much I could do there anyway. I focused on making sure she was happy.
What’s your advice for developing a close connection and relationship with your children?
Wife: Listen to them. Really listen to them. Hear what they have to say, get to know how their mind works, and learn to see the world through their eyes even if it’s just for a moment. Even if it sounds ridiculous or mundane, it’s important to them.
Husband: Listen to what they have to say, be there when they need you, and don’t be too serious, be spontaneous (“random acts of fun”).
What does building a God-centered family mean to you? What do you do, practically, to bring God into your family?
Wife: For me, a God-centered family is a family that includes God in their lives, even in the mundane parts. Practically speaking, we pray with them before mealtimes and before they go to bed. Sometimes, we do HDH as a part of bedtime reading. When they ask questions, I answer as openly and honestly as I can. We also do an offering table for birthdays and some holy days.
Husband: Be family that God can be proud of, and be dependable (there for others).