Does Life Stop After Kids?

I attended a wedding recently. Over dinner, my husband and I sat across from a newlywed couple we know. We started in on the usual chit chat. They asked us about our kids.

During our conversation, I misheard the wife and thought she had said something about having a baby. Her husband quickly and loudly corrected me. “No! No baby! Not anytime soon!”

We all laughed. They then explained some of their “baby hesitation” to us. They had a few couple friends who became pregnant and promised that having a baby would not affect their friendships or lifestyles.

However, once babies were born, their friends slowly disappeared. No more dinners, no movies, no evening hangouts. They vanished and were sucked up in the baby vacuum swirling with car seats, burp cloths, and the dreaded suburban nightmare: the minivan!

They asked us point-blank: “What have you not been able to do since having kids?”

Jonathan, my husband, and I paused for a second and looked at one another. Then we replied in unison… “…Nothing.”

“Tell me about THAT!” the husband exclaimed.

My husband Jonathan responded by saying, “The question people should ask themselves when having children is : Are children born into your lives or are you born into theirs?” (He’s a smartie, but he stole that quote from a book called The House Church Book)

Life after kids does not need to end. Since having children, Jonathan and I have not stopped doing anything we would normally have done. We take vacations, with and without children. We see late movies. We don’t miss family functions. We meet friends for coffee. We started a house church (we sound awesome, I know, right?). Yes, we have help. Our family provides countless hours of free babysitting, but we have also chosen to include our kids in what we like to do. Our kids are a welcome addition to our family, not the center of our lives.

Unfortunately, many couples have forfeited their lives after having children. I have seen and known many couples who lose themselves in their kids’ lives. They are no longer husband and wife but only mom and dad.

The order my husband and I attempt to maintain in our home is God first, marriage second, children third.

I know some moms who get all in a tizzy when they hear me say this. They assume that children should be their first priority. On some levels this is true, especially when your children are little. They do require a great deal of time, energy, attention, and energy (oh, did I say that already? ‘Cause I’m exhausted). However, marriage should be our first ministry. The strength of your marriage is what creates a safe and healthy environment for your kids.

And the reality is, kids grow up. They graduate and move out. Is your relationship with your spouse built on a solid foundation? Or is it your kids that are holding your marriage together? A romance built on changing diapers and little league is not likely to stand the test of time.

I admit it is not always easy to prioritize your marriage over your children. Nor is it easy to include your children into your life and not slip away into mommy/daddy oblivion never to be heard from again… but man is it worth it.

Do you agree or disagree? Should kids be the top priority in a marriage? How do you prioritize your marriage? Share.

14 thoughts on “Does Life Stop After Kids?”

  1. That’s exactly how my husband and I view our kids: an *addition* to the family we became when we married. Because we got all three of our kids at the same time, with only about nine days’ notice, we really were thrown into the deep end of parenthood while only wearing water wings. (Poorly inflated ones, at that.) Yes, because of the age of our kids at the time–not quite 3, and 18-month-old twins–certain things fell by the wayside. We had to establish a status quo with the kids before we could figure out how to make kids-plus activities work. We still got together with friends, but it was usually at our house, after the kids went to bed. We didn’t go out much, but again, that was because of the needs of the kids (and the stretched budget that didn’t allow for babysitting cash). They needed the stability of us always being there, and it was a sacrifice we chose to make for their well-being. However…it didn’t take long before we started doing things and taking the kids with us. We did “kid stuff,” like going to the National Zoo. We did “non-kid” stuff, like going out for lunch (where we routinely impressed total strangers with how well-behaved our little girls were). We haven’t attempted movies with them yet, but that’s mostly because I’m not sure they could sit still through the whole thing. My husband and I make a concerted effort to have time for “just us,” even if that means that the kids go spend the night with Gramma and Boppa (such a hardship all around). We know that we have to keep our marriage strong if we want to raise healthy, secure kids.

  2. Me and Ariel share the same views as you and Jonathan, but I’m still a little uneasy when it comes to kids. Honestly, I’m terrified of losing my wife to our kids due to some maternity instincts or something. She’s told me that won’t happen and I believe her, but my paranoia gives both of us the royal middle finger back.

    She always says I’m too selfish with her so we shouldn’t have kids, cause I wouldn’t let them get any time with her lol.

    We also plan to adopt when we’re around 27 though, regardless of whether we have our own or not.

    1. Chris, I love that you and Ariel banter about this subject! That’s good. My husband is super selfish with me. He gets grumpy when he doesn’t get enough time with me. The cool thing is, our parenting style allows for us to have lots of time together because we are not just mom and dad. We are also husband and wife, first and foremost.

      You guys can strike a great balance when the time is right and have a happy marriage and happy kids.

  3. We absolutely feel that marriage comes before kids. My hubs is my other half, the most important person in my life…how could I possibly neglect that?! Being military and moving around often, we don’t get the luxury of free babysitting from our families like so many. Lucky for us, we’re ok with it most of the time!! We have taken our kids everywhere with us since the first day and almost never decide not to do something “because of the kids.” We take them to movies, plays, concerts, fancy dinners, long road trips, long flights, romantic vacations, backpacking, etc. We love having our kids with us and feel that they shouldn’t miss out on any of the stuff we do. Kids are so portable, they can go anywhere! We are very thankful for the good friends that God puts in our path at each new place, though. It does give us a night out alone occasionally :)

    1. Laura, so well said! I love that you take your kids with you in the things you would naturally be doing. That is awesome. it teaches kids that mom and dad are fun, adventurous, and cool, but also that mom and dad are in love with each other. That speaks volumes to our kids!

  4. Amen!!! As a single woman who one day hopes to have a family, I have to say that this is so refreshing to hear! This order of priorities (God, marriage, kids) is how I hope to live my life when I get to that season. It makes so much sense, and yet our culture, though it paradoxically seems to devalue the family, also exalts kids to an unhealthy level of priority. Plus, it seems like there’s so much freedom in this model! I have a very real fear of losing the person I am when I become a mother, and in the model you have described, it seems as though you still get to be you, first and foremost, which carries into your role as a mother. Also, as a daughter of a woman who has made her kids her number one priority, I have seen the toll this can take on a parent. You have to take care of yourself (in your relationship with God) before you can be the best possible wife and mother that you can be. Thank you!

    1. Audrey, man you are so right in saying that this model produces freedom. What a great insight. It does. Moms, more than so many others, can so easily be swept up and away into a world of babies and bottles. But when we prioritize the right things, we maintain our identity and, as you point out, we can take care of ourselves and our relationship with God.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing Audrey!

  5. Nicole, I have to say, you make having kids seem less, hmmm …. overwhelming? We both know I’ve never wanted kids, still don’t, but your approach to parenting is awesome. This is how it should be: “Our kids are a welcome addition to our family, not the center of our lives.” That’s how my parents brought us up. Life is about balance, right? And that includes the family element, too. Great post.

    1. Thanks Alissa. I can honestly say that if I didn’t have the type of parenting philosophy that I do, I would never have had three kids. I would have become one of those strung-out, exhausted, angry, bitter moms whose kids run their life. No thank you.

      I much prefer sanity and a social life. Thanks Lis for reading and commenting!

  6. While I do feel that my life was highjacked for a couple of years, I think I am finally starting to get back on my feet. There has definitely been times where I was not able to do the things I wanted to do because it wasn’t age appropriate and I couldn’t get a sitter, but I have to say those times are far less common than the times I was able to do things I wanted to do and be who I felt I was in addition to mother.

    I have to say a supportive extended family has made all the difference in the world, they have loved on our kids when we have gone off globetrotting. In addition, my husband is super supportive of giving me the space to pursue additional interests (and yes, he IS as awesome as he sounds). As far as priority, the marriage is definitely the priority, but you have to work at it. It comes much more naturally to pay attention to the whining, crying, fighting, mewling children than the stoic husband, and I have to be intentional about it or it doesn’t happen.

    I can see easily how husbands can feel freaked out, because the children demand SO MUCH ATTENTION when they are little, and mom is limited in all ways. Fortunately, it is a short season and if you go at it with purpose, I feel like I can still be a good mom, a great wife and all the other things that make up who I am.

    Thanks for the post!

  7. Ok, I’m bookmarking you pronto, this is such a good post. I figure I’ll get married at some point and I’ve always wondered about this. My conclusion was that I’d wait as many years as possible for marriage and kids so that I can actually live some life. A lot of the married women I know are completely given to their children and I look at them and think, yeah I’m gonna be so bad at this… but this puts things into sensible, practical perspective, finally!

  8. yes after you have kids, you start supporting your kid’s life and you stop living your own. No time for sports, no time to go out, no time to see your friends, no time for sex, just work, family and doing whatever you kids need.

  9. I think you summed it all up in your one statement: you have family members that provide countless hours of free babysitting. That’s it. That’s all of your ‘success’, summed up. It’s not you, your wisdom, or your order of importance. You have breaks, and apparently money, because you’re not paying more to a babysitter than your meal costs. For the rest of the world that has degenerate parents and no and/or useless siblings, we do all the parenting ourselves… *no breaks*. When we do a kid-swap who people that we met through our children’s social circles (throw in a move or two and you won’t actually have any friends that don’t have kids the same age), then you get rewarded with double the kids when it’s your turn. Just turn on the news for a minute to see why I wouldn’t trust many Other people with child-minding. I would’ve said to that couple that they were absolutely right. Do not have children in western society until you are ready to give up ‘you’. ‘Nough said on that!

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