WT 129: How Do I Re-Connect With My Spouse After Kids? [RE-AIR]
In our vows we said "for better or for worse." Your sweet, newlywed heart probably couldn't imagine that there would ever be a season where you'd have to put that into practice, but here you are. Every single marriage goes through seasons of both connectedness and feeling disconnected. And adding your kids into the mix can bring both of these feelings to a whole other level. But you're not alone—all marriages experience this. Listen to today's episode where Karen answers your questions on How Do I Reconnect With My Spouse?
Question 1: My husband and I have always had a great relationship and marriage but when we had our first child things just felt “off” between us for a little while. We weren’t spiritually, emotionally or physically connected for a few months. I know it was due to the adjustment of our new life, but I never want our marriage to be back in that place. It’s been almost two years and our marriage is back to normal, but we are talking about having another baby and I am terrified of feeling disconnected from my husband again. Please send me any advice you have.
Karen's Answer: There are for sure “seasons” in marriage. I believe that is why in our traditional vows we say, “For better or worse." Because in marriage there will be “better” and there will be “worse." When children arrive there is both. It is a joyful time, a hormonal time, an exhausted time, and also a stressful time. All so normal. The good news is that seasons are just that, seasons. Continue to work hard on your marriage and you will experience a connected season again. I really believe that is the beauty of a long marriage. It’s not just the years you’ve invested together, but the triumph of getting through the better and worse.
When I had Kelsey, Greg was at the beginning of works in the Navy. Quickly after she was born, Greg left two weeks then home for a few weeks, then back off for 3 weeks, then gone 6 weeks, until he went on his six month cruise for 6 months. (Which was war) During this time I absolutely felt disconnected, both emotionally and physically. But, we weathered through it. It was some of the hardest days, but I got through it, and now I believe Greg and I are stronger for it. It’s just part of marriage.
Question 2: Karen, I feel weird and selfish even writing out this question, but I know I need to ask it because I need advice. I spend lots of time investing in myself to be a better mom and wife. I do this with books, podcasts, church, blogs, etc. My husband is a wonderful man who I love, and he’s an amazing father. If I’m being honest though, it bugs me that he doesn’t work on himself the way that I do. I know, it sounds so self-righteous, but it’s honest. He has no interest in reading parenting or marriage books or listening to sermons or podcasts. Unless our church sermon is directly about marriage or parenting, I don’t think he pours into himself in those areas at all. Am I a nut for letting this bother me? Especially since he’s already a great husband and father?
Karen's Answer: Oh my goodness! you are not alone! I would say 95% of moms that I talk to, including myself, are in your same shoes! I honestly think it is the different way men and women are wired. It comes natural to women to invest in ourselves because it's part of how we show our love. But sometimes men show their love by focusing on providing and taking care of the family. They honestly believe that if they are providing, they are doing all the should and can do. Your husband is so normal, and so are you.
Greg and I still go through this all the time! Greg is truly a wonderful husband, an amazing father and full of integrity. Our children adore him, I couldn’t ask for a better husband, but does he read books? No. Definitely not if I ask him to read a book. How did I overcome it? I learned to accept Greg for the way he is and not try to change him. God showed me a LONG time ago, before we ever had children, that Greg was HIs responsibility to mold and change, not mine. You can imagine how shocked I was to learn that? :) But, when it bugs me—and to be honest it still can at times—I remind myself that Greg is not my responsibility to change, that is on God.
I have had moms tell me that they go through some of our curriculums, like Parenting Together, with their husbands and watch it together and it’s really helped. You can try that - pop some popcorn and use it as a movie night. Who knows? It may just work!
Question 3: I have heard the advice to go out on dates with your husband and try to not talk about the kids at all, however my husband and I have tried that and it’s impossible for us to do. Recently an older couple in our church got divorce and it shocked me. They were always the perfect family. I was told that when their youngest child left the nest, they had nothing to talk about. Talk about chills up my spine! It freaked me out. As an empty-nester with a happy marriage, can you tell me how to make sure this doesn’t happen to me?
Karen's Answer: The scary thing is, it WILL happen if you don’t work hard on it not to happen. You must keep your husband #1, even behind your children, that’s why you don’t talk about your children on a date.
Greg and I work hard to keep each other #1. Not only just #1, but also to stay engaged in each other’s lives. Greg and I have very different interests. Greg loves Nascar, me not so much, Greg used to run all the time, marathons, not me. I like antique shopping, not Greg, I like to go to movies and Greg has gotten to where he’d rather stay home. So, we are constantly trying to stay in each other’s world. It is work, but worth it. I will go watch Nascar with him, usually I fall asleep, but I have learned the drivers and their numbers. Greg will go antique shopping with me, and usually ends up having a decent time. It takes effort.
There's an incredible book by my friend Scott Bowen called Here’s a Question. It's a great thing to bring out on a date to help with getting the non-kid conversation flowing!
Question 4: Karen, as a stay at home mom who doesn’t get to have adult conversation all day, I am dying to see and talk to my husband when he gets home from work. However, when he gets home he’s exhausted and any energy he has is given towards playing with his kids. Asking him to focus on me when he gets home feels hypocritical, it’s like I want him to respect my time by acknowledging that I need to connect with another adult, but I’m not respecting his by acknowledging his needs to connect with his kids and rest.
Karen's Answer: Girl, I hear you! I get you and I am JUST like you! You need to talk to your husband and explain your world to him, praise him that he is such an amazing father and you love that about him, but you just need ten minutes to fill up your love cup!
I experienced this exact thing. I told Greg, I just need 10 min of your undivided attention, BEFORE you play with the children. I need to still feel like I’m #1 in your world, plus I want to talk adult talk! So, that’s what we did. Greg would get home, give hugs and kisses, then we wold go to our room, shut the door, and while he changed into comfy clothes, out of his flight suit or uniform, he would tell me about his day, highs and lows and I would tell him about mine. Just those 10 min made a world of difference for me and I was good until the children went to bed.
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