Justin and I are in an unusual situation. We’re newlyweds, but we have an 8-year-old daughter. When we hang out with other newlywed couples, our stories are a little different from theirs because we have a kid. And when we hang out with couples that have been married for a while and have kids, our stories are different from theirs because we’re newlyweds. We fit into both groups, but not completely.
It’s always awkward when our newlywed friends want to hang out and we have to say, “Can we bring Isabella?” They’re very gracious about it but we know it’s not ideal to have a kid hanging around all the time. And when I’m with other moms and they talk about their husbands—good or bad—I feel I don’t have a right to pitch in about mine, because we’ve only been married for a few months. It’s not uncommon for me to hear the phrase, “Just wait.”
Although this dichotomy is somewhat challenging, I truly feel that Justin and I have the best of both worlds—a child AND a flourishing marriage. It makes me sad that so many people think you can’t have both.
I know a handful of couples that have never had kids, and I will say they all appear to have an amazing marriage. And it makes sense. When you don’t have children nipping at your knees all the time, you can devote all of your attention onto your spouse. Giving your spouse undivided time and attention is certainly a recipe for a good marriage.
But I also know couples (not a lot, but some) that have kids and are just as happily married as the ones who are childless. The reason is that these couples deliberately make time for each other first, THEN they tend to the children. (Unless one of the children is bleeding out of the eyes or something. That child gets first priority!) A friend once pointed out that non-working women used to be called “housewives.” Now they’re called “stay-at-home moms.” The emphasis has switched from wife to mom, and many marriages are failing because of it.
I know that I’m just an amateur when it comes to the whole marriage thing, and I only have one kid as opposed to three or four. But I also know what it’s like to have a child without a husband, and that’s no walk in the park either. That Justin has even agreed to be a father to Isabella in and of itself makes me swoon, let alone the fact that he’s a good one. I fall more and more in love with him every time he pours her a glass of juice, or helps her with her homework. I hope I never take that for granted. And I hope the same for other married couples . . . with or without children.