Are kids bad for your marriage?

Lacey - posted on 03/22/2012 ( 23 moms have responded )

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How much strain is a toddler supposed to put on a marriage? It seems like my husband and I are always fighting about things, mainly our 21 month old daughter. This isn't new, it has been ongoing practically since she was born. We have different feelings about when and how things should be done and it is about too much for me. I am afraid it is affecting her too. Some nights all I want to do is cry, especially when it seems nobody else I know has any problems.

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Amy - posted on 03/23/2012

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The other two ladies are right children cab put a lot of strain on a marriage. You definitely should both sit down and try and come up with something you both agree on. One of the best things I did is to start letting go of the little things. My husband isn't going to always feed the kids a vegetable at every meal, he's not going to bathe them the same way I do, sometimes they get away with more if he's watching them. I've accepted that and try not to nit pick him.

Angela - posted on 03/24/2012

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I always laugh when childless couples suggest that a baby will only "cement the love" they have for each other. It certainly won't. When a woman first has a baby, it's very hard to allow any other person, even the father to dictate what will happen or have any say in how the child is raised. I felt that acutely for a moment. However, I loved my husband and recognise him as a wonderful father, even to this day 10 years on with 2 children. Even if I think he is wrong, I will back him up in front of our children, because we must show a united front. We'll quietly discuss it afterwards, if I think it needs discussing. The truth is, letting your husband have a say about the children not only gives you an ally, it gives you a break. My friend will not let her own partner look after HIS son because she feels he is incapable of looking after him. I rather think she never let her guard down. Unless your husband is talking about beating your daughter with a stick with a nail in it, you might feel the same. You then need to sit down (as the first people rightly said) and talk about how you would both like things to be done with regards to discipline, child raising, play time etc and come to a reasonable half way. Then you'll both be "in it together" rather than arguing all of the time!

Shawnn - posted on 03/23/2012

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Sounds like its time to sit down and get a parenting strategy worked out that you can both agree on . Ideally, it's better to do this before you have kids, but some don't always have that option.



My hubby and I agreed on parenting strategy years before we actually had kids! It was one of the first things we discussed when we started dating, and it was very important to us.



At this point, you may need a neutral party involved, so it may take a counselor.

Michelle - posted on 03/22/2012

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Children can put a lot of strain on a marriage if the parents have different views on how to parent.



You really should sit down with your husband and discuss how you BOTH want to parent. It will be a bit of give and take on both sides to come to an agreement if the styles are very different though. You really both need to be on the same page with it otherwise the children learn who to go to when they want something.



It may even pay to see a councilor together so you can both say how you feel without it getting into a fight.

Christy - posted on 03/27/2012

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Lacey,



Truth be told - there is a better version of each of us out there. We are all imperfect people. But, please don't let the "should's" and "should have done's" distract you. They are not from God, but from another place. For all these words do is separate us from HIM and make us feel that we have to "work" to be enough. Should we admit our wrong doings and commit to doing better? Sure. But, guilt gets us nowhere.



Our God is a very gracious one and HE loves each one of us despite all of our faults and sins. One lesson that HE taught me a few years ago, and one that I still struggle to embrace depending on the day, is this...



Luke 3:22

and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “ You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”



This message was not reserved for just Jesus. It's God's message to us all. HE is talking to you, Lacey - "In YOU I am well-pleased." Let that sink into your heart.



Do we screw up? Absolutely. But that never changes HIS love for us. Think about it this way...if you and I as imperfect people can love our own children with such amazing depth, how much greater is God's love for us?



I'm sorry to hear that your husband's faith is not in a place where he wants to pray together daily. But, don't let that stop you in your faith. Many times the best way to lead someone to faith is not by preaching, but instead by modeling. When I think back to my faith walk, the most influential people have been those whose faith and actions have inspired me to dive deeper into my own walk of faith.



Today is a new day. My prayer for you is that you will feel HIS renewing presence, HIS unconditional love, and HIS abundant grace.



Christy

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Mary - posted on 03/28/2012

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Pick your battles and don't make enerything a power struggle. I am a 54 yr old women who has raised 2 of my own kids, 200 foster children and 31 years of child care.

Gwen - posted on 03/27/2012

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Go to counseling on your own. You can't make him change, but you can change how you handle yourself and your circumstances.

Lacey - posted on 03/26/2012

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Christy and Kelly, thanks again.

We seem to have runs of good days and bad, and the last few have been pretty good. I try to see the little things between my husband and daughter and love each of them, as you say Christy, because they are just perfect.

I appreciate that you both believe that faith and a love of God are important in our lives. There are many days when I feel that "hole" that you speak of slowly being filled in, and realize how He has his hands in my life. Along with that comes, slowly!, the ability to let go of some control and learn some patience. I see these problems in other aspects of my life as well, so I know there is work to be done.

I will try to keep these books you suggest in my mind, reading for pleasure doesn't really happen right now, though these may be more for necessity! There is so much to be learned from other people and their circumstances. I am going into the medical field, and nothing is more humbling that hearing other peoples stories of hardship. It really makes me want to fix what is broken before its too late, and I try to make my husband see that as well. He lives on the frame of mind that there is always tomorrow, and I fear there won't be the rest of today. We have a lot to learn from and about each other still! We can't openly talk about God, or even really pray together, and our priest said that is something we should try to do daily, if not at least weekly. Sometimes I feel young for my age in so many ways, and that there is a better version of me out there. I just hope I haven't left a bunch of damage in my wake!

Christy - posted on 03/25/2012

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Lacey,



Great question - I think the answer is...yes and no. Kids bring to the surface many issues within our marriages that need to be addressed. Add to it the stress that accompanies these cute little bundles of joy and the fact that husbands and wives grow up in different families with different traditions and different ways of doing things...and you can see why it's such a hard endeavor.



On the other hand, nothing is more precious than the love of a mother and father. Having children allows us to see our spouse through this lens. Are we perfect? No. But there are those moments when your spouse is loving, teaching, or bonding in some way with your child that you will just watch in awe. Look for these. Be open to them.



As for the challenges you are facing in your own marriage... please know that you are not alone. Not everyone will be forthright about their marriage issues, but we all have them. Marriage is hard, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it in the end. Everyone's life journey is different and it's not for anyone to say what you should do in your marriage - because we have not walked in your shoes along your path. However, when things aren't working in a marriage, it can feel quite lonely and sometimes even hopeless.



A few suggestions that I have...



#1 - Find a healthy group of moms to connect with. We were all created to live in community. Look for a group of women with whom you feel safe confiding in, and where you can share authentic struggles and successes in your marriage and in parenting. Beware of any groups were there is a competitive dynamic - what you want and need is someone to be authentic with.



I have found this with friends in my neighborhood, mom's groups, and especially with women of faith.



#2. Journal your feelings. Until you find and develop the kind of friendships I am talking about above, you can be a friend to yourself. Take a few moments each day to journal how you are feeling. Just pick up the pen and let go. For some, the writing will come naturally. For others, you might need some prompts to get you started. One of my favorite prompts is "What is it you need?"



A good friend and life coach always asks me this question. It's harder to answer than you might think, The only challenge here is that the answer has to be something you can provide for yourself. We all have a tendency to look for others to meet our needs. After all, we're usually so busy taking care of everyone else's needs. But, this just leads to disappointment. We need to put the oxygen on ourselves so that we are strong enough to care for others.



#3. Consider adding a couple of books to your nightstand. I have found these both to be very helpful. Just be sure to read the Boundaries book first, because I think that it lays the groundwork for receiving the Love and Respect message from a healthy place.



Boundaries in Marriage

http://store.cloudtownsend.com/books/bou...



The second is Love and Respect...

http://loveandrespect.com/store/love-and...



#4. Not sure where you are on your faith journey, but one thing that has been profound for me in my marriage is realizing that my spouse (no matter how amazing he could be) will never fill the God-sized hole in my heart. If you aren't here in your faith, that's ok. I am just sharing what has helped me.



As a child of divorce, I soooo wanted to avoid this scenario in my own marriage. This caused me (unconsciously) to put my marriage at the center of my heart where God belonged. I thought that I could control the outcome if I did so. What happened instead was just the opposite. I came very close to loosing my marriage, because I did not keep appropriate boundaries and did not keep God front and center of all that I did.



The mom who wrote that "it takes two in a marriage" is right. But just remember that we can only control our part, and that... through learning our role in this world, and taking care of our own needs, that we can come to a healthy place, regardless of the outcome for our marriage.



I pray that you will find peace in your marriage and that you will feel HIS love at work in your friendships, your family and in your life.



In Christ who strengthens me,

Christy

Kelly - posted on 03/25/2012

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Lacey,

My x husband was raised the same.. minus the catholic part and had the same teachings of what a wife/mother was supposed to be like. Because of this, I received no respect, no communication, no appreciation. My marriage lasted all of 3.5 years. I too told myself it could be much worse, I justified it by comparing myself to many other women, I said, "I could be getting beat every night. He works hard, comes home to me every night, what more could you ask of a decent man?" Question is..Is that all you will allow yourself in life? Don't you respect and love yourself enough to know that 'decent' isn't all your worthy of?

Instead of digesting someone elses doctrines why don't you seek your own answers?

Look... As parents, we teach our kids generally the same as we were taught. Our parents are our role models for what is right and wrong in the world. Everything from how to wipe after going #2 to the doctrine of religion we follow. A few of us (like me) were fortunate enough not to be raised or brainwashed to believe one doctrine or the other, but to be.. individual thinkers.

In my studies to find a church..not a doctrine, I looked at each one and then went to one source for answers to weed out the hypocrisy..The Holy Bible. No, your catholic bible is not word for word the same as The Holy Bible. If you don't believe me just look at this http://www.catholic.org/bible/ten_comman... vs http://ten-commandments.us/ten_commandme...

You said that you don't want to change him... From what I read, changes for the both of you is the only way for you to be happy and for the arguing to stop. I grew up with fighting and arguing 90% of my life.. I turned out level headed...my sister on the other hand is on her way to being an addict and homeless. If not already..

You said, "I just always envisioned a marriage to a man that helped as much as he could and really wanted to, someone that I can talk to and that he wants to respond also. I don't want him to change, just to open his eyes to what is going on and let me know what he is feeling as well. " I also felt the same...wanted a marriage to the same man that you envision.. There was so much damage done there was no reversal to save the marriage for me. It doesn't have to be the same for you, but ***** IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE THE CHANGES AND MAKE IT WORK***** If he doesn't think theres a problem and doesn't respect what you feel and have to say you've got one and not two. Help from family isn't going to help, it will humiliate him. An ultimatum has been proven by me, to backfire.. He needs to willingly want to participate.

My kindest and firmest advice from a 36yo mom of a 12.5yo and a rowdy 8mo old, wife of a God loving family man is to get him to understand that there are problems and the two of you need a little help. Yes, I said two of you, these changes will take both parties.

Buy it, ask a Pastor for a copy to rent, (Pastor.. not priest..they are rarely trained in marital counseling) "Laugh your Way to a better Marriage" for starters. It is funny, and has a entertaining way of gently easing a defensive man into listening.

I really hope and pray for you and your family as your heart is in the right place.

God Bless,



Kellz

Lacey - posted on 03/25/2012

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There is certainly work to be done, my husband grew up watching his father work and his mother do everything around the house as a stay at home mom to 5 kids. I respect that, but I feel as though somehow my husband lost the message that guys are supposed to do more than work and sit on the couch so their dinners can be brought to them. And I am partly to blame, I have done this for a long time but can't handle it anymore.

My husband was raised Catholic, and I was just baptized into his church last Easter, we had our daughter baptized at 5 months. Faith is still a new thing to me but is something I have been finding is helping every day. I get upset by our situation but realize things could be so much worse. And I do blame myself alot, as Katrina picked up on. It just seems easier than trying to find a way to fix things sometimes. I take very little time for myself, just doing this makes me feel guilty for not studying. And we rarely have date nights, which I know are a must. If we do we often have our daughter cause we both see her so little.

I just always envisioned a marriage to a man that helped as much as he could and really wanted to, someone that I can talk to and that he wants to respond also. I don't want him to change, just to open his eyes to what is going on and let me know what he is feeling as well.

Kelly - posted on 03/25/2012

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Lacey,

Your husband is clearly not meeting you halfway. You described the kind of man that I absolutely detest!! EPIC FAIL on father and husband from what you've described. Almost as bad as my X husband...

Just taking a wild guess that neither of you put God first in your heart, marriage and home. God's love has a way of changing people on the inside and out.

I'm sorry, but if you can't even bring up the subject of family counseling I don't see any hope for your marriage, two year old asside. Your relationship with your husband needs to be addressed immediately.

My husband and I can talk about anything and everything and while we may not agree on everything concerning our wild little 8month old son, we know that it is essential that we be on the same page and come to an agreement or suffer the consequences of having a terrible two year old, and inevitably a horrible three year old from lack of consistency in parenting.

We will pray for you and your family.

Katrina - posted on 03/25/2012

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Hi Lacey. You sound like you're totally overwhelmed. Please remember that there is two in the marriage, so YOU can't be the one to blame (appears to me that you blame yourself). Like everyone else I would suggest family councelling for both of you as a couple and also appointments for you both to go in as individuals. Being a wife and a mum and a student can get a bit much and particularly parents, can forget to take time out to just be you. Set aside a day each week/fortnight/month (whatever works for your schedule/budget etc) and spend an hour or half day, whatever, just some time out to relax and do something for yourself. "Date Night's" are also good. A scheduled time each week etc to just be husband and wife. Being a parent is tough and can easily take everything we have, and then we have nothing to give to our partners. Date Nights allow for a special time where you guys can talk, escape the grind of parenting and work and study. The other thing I would suggest is writing him a letter. A letter can take as long as it needs to, to be written, so you can think of exactly what you're trying to say or ask. This way you can say all that you want to. And maybe if you left it on your bed so when he goes in after dinner he'll see it. And leave a notepad and pen there so if he feels like writing anything back, he can. Also, Apparently guys can get Post Pardem Depression - Which had previously been thought to only affect mothers - and can be really tough for them. Maybe this is something to consider. I pray for a brilliant outcome, and that a solution is found swiftly. All the best xxx

Lacey - posted on 03/24/2012

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Thanks for the advice. I have seriously considered a counselor, but have no idea how to bring up the topic with him. It seems like he just never wants to talk to me. I know most guys don't do a lot of talking, but when he says he has a better way of doing things then never tells me what he is talking about it gets frustrating. I am tired of him running off to bed and giving me the silent treatment while I am left to get our daughter in bed, when I have already been trying to for an hour, while he hassles me for not getting the studying done that I need to (i am in grad school). Maybe I could approach things differently and I have really tried, but don't always feel like he is meeting me anywhere, let alone half way.



I just feel like I am damaging him as a person somehow, and that we are slowly killing each other! We were brought up very differently and I know that has a lot to do with it. I am the first to admit when I am wrong, but it seems like he can't. And I know I am a much more serious person than he is, and that we are both ridiculously stubborn. I need to find a way for us to be able to just talk. I would give up a night of studying if it would happen. That would also mean that he needs to turn the TV off and actually look at me when we are having a conversation though too. He works long hours and usually falls asleep shortly after eating and I get that, and tell him so, but clearly something is still wrong.

Ronda - posted on 03/24/2012

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Hi Lacey, I just wanted to let you know that love is NOT a feeling, it is a commitment, an attitude. With that being said, you and your husband need to consciously Choose to love each other, Compromise on your parenting strategies, and NOT fight in front of your daughter. Marriage is hard work, and it will take both of you working at it to succeed! You and your husband were raised differently and it will affect your blending a family together. It is possible by discussing what is important, non negotiable, and what you can compromise on. Remember, and take comfort in the fact that both yours and your husbands' family had to do the same. ~hug~

Anisha - posted on 03/24/2012

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I know what you mean but you have to be able to separate parenting and being husband and wife. You are not each others parents you are your daughters. Try sitting Dow to discuss the problems without arguing.

Pamela - posted on 03/24/2012

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Aha! You, like most other couples on this planet, probably did not "sit down and discuss your attitudes and ideas about children and child rearing BEFORE you got pregnant". Welcome to the aftermath.



It may well be that the two of you are not as well matched as you may have believed. That doesn't mean that you cannot make a marriage and family work....only that you must work really hard to do so.



Yes, children do bring added stress into our lives, but if we are TRULY in LOVE with one another and doing our best to love UNCONDITIONALLY, then the rest should not be so great a struggle that we cannot make it work. That does not mean that you should give more than receiving, only that you two need to find areas of compromise and areas of togetherness in this process of child rearing. MOST OF ALL, keep the welfare of the child in mind as the highest goal, with the parents understanding that perhaps they will not always get what they individually want.



Children are never "bad" for marriage. It's the adults who have to change! The highest and best to all of you. Hope you find grounds to make it work for all!

Rebekah - posted on 03/23/2012

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Good grief, as if my post wasn't long enough... I forgot to add that at one point, we went to a parenting class "surviving the toddler years" which was offered by our local hospital. It was just a one night workshop, but it helped keep communication going and gave my husband some sense of what other parents are going through, what is typical behavior, and strategies for managing behavior. it was nice to have that third party presence to bring in new ideas and keep communication going. While I am reading parenting magazines, talking up a storm to friends, my mom, sister and other moms at the playground for my sense of support, perspective, and "what is normal," my husband was/is pretty isolated from that kind of input and really benefitted from hearing from other parents at the workshop (not just from me...i find its really hard to give a husband feedback without sounding critical, despite my best efforts). I wish he'd do more of it, still.



I don't know if that might be helpful, but consider it. Kind of a, "we're in this together" kind of approach to finding solutions about how to come together to parent your daughter.

Rebekah - posted on 03/23/2012

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All the input so far is great. Just wanted to let you know, Lacey, that you aren't alone! My husband and I were married for 10 years before our son came along, so we had a long time of life being a certain way that then got totally turned upside down. I have to say that both my husband and I are different people since becoming parents. I don't regret my child at all! But sometimes I am sad for losing the way my marriage was before. Its definitely more complicated and distant. :(



Although we would have said we agreed on and valued most all of the same things related to parenthood prior to actually being parents, once baby came along, I discovered how many things you can still disagree on. Its not even the big things, its the little things. Or big things masquerading as little things. And it causes all kinds of tension. Its terrible, but I could understand why some parents would split up when their kids were still toddlers because it is such a stressful time. I don't want to go that route if possible, so we keep working at it. My son is now 6, and although things have much improved, there are still ongoing things that are problematic. We talk about them, but haven't resolved all of it. Then because things are not resolved, those feelings interfere with intimacy.



So I don't have solutions beyond what the others offered, other than to acknowledge the stress on both of you and find ways to take care of yourself as best you can, so you can be strong for both your daughter and husband. Decide together what is non-negotiable (what is most important?) and what can be flexible. And see if some of the tension is more about missing each other than it is about actual parenting stuff. And find alone time for each other, if that's what's needed. I think that's what's happening here. I read that the marriage has to be priority...if that relationship is healthy, then the kids/parenting stuff will follow. Kids are more secure and happy if the parents are doing well. But I know its hard...toddlers are extremely demanding and need lots of supervision/attention! Hang in there... its worth the effort. hugs.

Alexandra - posted on 03/23/2012

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yes, talking is the best. But never talk about problems in front of your two year old! The kids, unbelievably, understand much more than what we think, ahha. Good luck.

Sue - posted on 03/23/2012

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You and your husband need to make a plan you both can agree on about raising your daughter. It won't take her long to learn to play the two of you against each other. Remember it's what's best for her not what's best for you and your husband. You need tone on the same page. God bless

Fond - posted on 03/23/2012

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You are not alone. Children, especially for the first couple of years, put a huge strain on the relationship of their parents for all sorts of reasons. Money is tighter, sleep is scarce, and equity of childcare responsibilities plus household chores is a point of contention. Plus when the kids first arrive they take all of mom's attention so dad feels left out. I agree with the other ladies - you and your husband should talk about parenting strategies at a time when there is not a big disagreement in process. A counselor sounds like a great idea.

Louise - posted on 03/23/2012

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Michelle is right! You need to sit down and sort things out. The biggest thing is deciding between you on how to disciplin your child as you both need to do the same thing. Ask him what he thinks is important and get him to write it down and you do the same then compare notes. You may be surprised that you both want the same thing you just both go about things in a different way.



My husband and I both agreed early on that I would stay at home and raise our sons so I was there for them 24-7. I was the one that disciplined them unless they had over stepped the mark and then they had to go and see dad! The day to day parenting was always done by me.



Are you sure that all the arguements are about your child, or just a way to start a fight. Take some time to think things through, because your right your daughter will pick up on the fights and become distressed. She needs to feel safe, secure and loved and not in the middle of a battle zone. Parenting together should not really be that hard, it is other factors like finances that usually cause a huge strain on a realtionship.

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