Studies have shown that more and more couples are waiting longer and longer before they start families. While waiting until you are financially stable enough to have kids isn't a bad idea, it's actually the added strain babies might put on a marriage that is keeping young couples on birth control. I'm here to tell you that yes, having kids can stress you out more than you could ever imagine, but it can also enrich your life and strengthen your marriage. Let me tell you how.
1. You'll never laugh more than you do when you have kids
Over the summer while visiting my in-laws, we spent a stressful day at the zoo. The kids were cranky; the adults were tired. Afterward, we went back to my brother in law's house where we were staying. My four-year-old niece had been "howling" all evening and telling everyone that she was a wolf. When it came time to get ready for bed, her mom sent her upstairs to brush her teeth and put on her pajamas.
She immediately started arguing about why she shouldn't have to brush her teeth. When her pleas garnered no sympathy, she loudly pouted, "But wolfs don't brush their teeth!" and then proceeded to stomp up the stairs. All of us adults just looked at each other and then burst out laughing. The tension was suddenly gone. Kids do say the most absurd things, and it can be refreshing just to take a break and laugh together at what your child has decided to come up with that day. Believe me; they will ALWAYS surprise you.
2. Babies make you value time spent alone with your spouse
I got pregnant with our daughter after my husband and I were married for only a couple of months. We didn't even have a year of marriage under our belt before she came along, but I still remember how we took for granted being able to spend time together. The freedom to do whatever we want, when we want to do it, is long gone. I would never change having our daughter, but I do recognize how precious our alone time is, and it definitely makes it more exciting.
Recently we had a date night, and we went to a local "haunted trail." It was exhilarating, going somewhere just the two of us. We held hands as we made our way through the forest filled with masked monsters, laughing like teenagers when a sound machine blasted a train horn, making me jump. After that, we went to an ice cream parlor and had sundaes and spent time just talking to each other, with no distractions.
We both feel like it's important to have these dates, and luckily my sister loves to babysit for free. Even if you don't have a free childcare option, it's still important to work date nights into your budget. Studies show that children of parents who are still together often obtain high levels of education and income. So make time for fun with your spouse!
3. Babies can make tension disappear
Babies can add stress to a marriage. It can be hard to keep your cool when you haven't slept in what feels like years, and you don't understand why your husband's hearing seems to get so bad at night that he doesn't notice the baby wailing in the other room. I promise you, though, that even if you didn't have kids, your husband would still find a way to irritate you. Having a cute baby around can actually make you like him a little more!
Sometimes, I'll be in the kitchen doing dishes, and I will be on the verge of yelling at my husband. (Because really how hard it is to scrape the food off of your plate before you put it in the sink?) Then I'll turn around and see him holding our daughter, telling her a story while she gazes lovingly at him with a huge smile on her face, and my anger melts away. It's hard to stay mad when I'm feeling so much love, looking at this beautiful, happy girl that we made together.
4. Babies teach you how to care better for each other
Bringing home a newborn pushes new parents to rely on one another. You have this precious, vulnerable, tiny human that you have to take care of, and you're looking at each other like, "Okay, what do we do now?" To be successful, you need to be a team. When it's ten pm, and you still haven't showered, and you're not sure if that spot on your shirt is food or spit up, you're going to cherish having a spouse that takes the baby and lets you take a relaxing bath.
The other day I woke up at nine am in a panic because our daughter usually wakes me up before seven am wanting breakfast. It was my husband's day off, and he had let me sleep in, while he made our daughter breakfast and watched cartoons with her. Then when I woke up, he made me breakfast. An extra two hours of sleep may seem like a small thing to some people, but I felt refreshed and renewed. Just that little amount of stress that he relieved me of that day was a godsend.
5. Babies teach us to appreciate each other
No one else but my husband understands what I have gone through in our journey raising our daughter. She was born prematurely with complications, and at one point the doctors told us she might not make it. I remember my husband and I clinging to each other, crying together. It was the worst time of our lives, watching helplessly as our baby fought to survive. Luckily she made it through, and hopefully most parents won't go through a situation as dire as ours was. Still, raising children together, loving them together, will bring you closer to each other than anything else will. You will feel your love for your spouse grow as you watch them love the tiny people you have made together.
Raising children is hard, but it's also rewarding. I know one day I'll be old and gray, and look back on this life that I've had with my husband and children as the greatest adventure I could have ever gone on, and I won't regret it one bit.