A recent NBC news headline advised, “Secret to marital bliss? Don’t have kids.” While it’s true that the marriage relationship does undergo significant strain in the transition of having a baby, becoming parents can also be an opportunity for growth in a marriage. That’s what happened for us.
Here are 5 ways having a baby strengthened our marriage:
1. Forced us to grow up
Caring for an infant required us to address our selfishness and immaturity. When it was just my husband and me, I could ignore him sometimes and he could fend for himself. But my baby was completely dependent on me so I didn’t have the luxury of simply ignoring her when I wanted to do something for myself. As I became less selfish of a mother, I was also challenged to become less selfish as a wife.
2. Developed the rare quality of longsuffering
Longsuffering is mostly thought of as an outdated word these days. In older translations of the Bible, it’s listed as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. Most modern translations use the word “patience,” but when applied to the intense challenge of the first year of being parents, “longsuffering” is truly a more accurate word. As first-time parents, we had to learn to suffer with each other through the seemingly endless nights.
3. Gave us a common challenge to conquer
When soldiers return from the battlefield, they share a deep bond because of all they’ve experienced together. Caring for an infant is similar to doing battle. It requires teamwork and mutual encouragement to push through the hard times and to be on the lookout for each other’s well-being. Our love and respect for each other grew as we worked through conflicts and learned together how to be parents.
4. Gifted us with a common person to love
Our baby became a recipient of both of our affections. Watching her grow gave us a common cause for celebration. She was someone we could both be super excited about. We found ourselves swapping stories with each other at the end of the day, recounting all the cute, funny, gross and amazing things our daughter did. Before we had her, we connected in many ways already. But with her arrival, we had an extra special point of connection between us as husband and wife.
5. Made us desperate for God’s strength
There were countless moments when both of us were completely exhausted and the baby wouldn’t stop crying that my only solace was to turn to God for help. I knew that on my own, I didn’t have the strength to endure. Parenting brought me to the end of my limits over and over again. It reminded me that every breath I take and every day that I make it through is all because God’s grace carries me. In the same way, if our marriage is to be sustained over the long haul, it too will be solely by God’s grace.
If you are a parent, how has having a baby grown your marriage?
photo credit: Vivian Chen [陳培雯]