9 Ways Having Kids Can Change Marriage for the Better

For a lot of couples, kids make strong relationships even stronger.

Flickr/ V Smoothe

Having a baby can feel like lobbing a hand grenade into your marriage: The life you once knew is no more. Routines change. Regular sleep goes out the window. You see your social circle much less frequently, if at all. Relationship changes abound, too: Now, with this gurgly, wriggling bundle of joy/poop machine, couples must constantly pivot to the new reality. Communication struggles happen. So do small resentments. But, of course, this is part of the game. And becoming parents can bring partners so much closer. A deeper respect for one another builds. New attractions arise. Different and, often, hidden character traits surface. It’s a beautiful time for couples. As proof, here, nine dads open up about the surprising ways their marriages changed for the better after they had kids.

We Appreciate Each Other’s Company So Much More

We just enjoy spending time doing nothing more than before children. The quiet downtime that we have is no big trips, restaurant reservations, etc. We just chill. I don’t remember this much chill time before children. — Matthew, 35, South Carolina

We’re Much More Present With Each Other

I have a 10-month-old son, and after his arrival, one positive change in my relationship with my wife is that we’re more present with each other. Before the baby, we’d find ourselves being “alone together” more often — in the same room but staring at our phones.

Now we’re more inclined to put the phones away because we want to soak in the fun moments with our son and make sure he’s not getting into anything he shouldn’t. That’s led to better habits about putting our phones away when it’s just my wife and me, which helps us feel more connected. — Sam, 33, California

We’re Way More Empathetic

Having kids helps my wife and I truly appreciate our marriage and life generally better. They teach us how to love each other better and show empathy for one another. Having children has also helped us become a better team and given us the ability to create important habits and disciplines in our life, helping us maintain order in our lives. — Brandon, 28, Florida

We’re More Honest — And Have Far Less Ego

Our kids seem to have a knack for exposing every bit of selfishness and ego we had. I think marriage starts this process, and when kids come, they finish it. This can be rough and painful at times, and it’s lead to short tempers and unrealistic expectations between my wife and myself. But ultimately it’s led to some of the biggest positive shifts. We’ve grown to know each other on a deeper level. We’ve been through the late night trenches together and through things we never dreamed of. There’s a bond that grows when two people come together over something like parenthood. Ultimately our children have taught us how to be better, more efficient communicators with each other. — Grant, 37, Texas

Our Bond Has Never Been Stronger

I met my wife at work and we relish a good roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-into-it project. When you are both challenged on a cooperative mission, you grow together. Sometimes you fight and disagree and tensions rise, but then you learn how to tackle something bigger than yourself and become a stronger team for it. Do I need to say that raising kids is a big fucking project? Eighteen years (at minimum) and a new part-time team member that is very often at odds with you makes for one helluva a thing to bond and grow over. — Tyghe, 37, New York

Our Pregnancy Struggles Brought Newfound Respect

My wife and I had a horrible pregnancy with our daughter. She was diagnosed with Newborn Hemolytic Anemia. My wife’s blood was trying to kill the baby. She had to have five intrauterine blood transfusions to keep the baby alive. Going through this process brought us closer because we put aside the marriage BS and we talked more than we used to and we grew closer. We have become more of a united front and continue to complete each other instead of compete against each other. — Sean, 40, Utah

We’re More Devoted to Each Other Than Ever

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about being married after having kids is the feeling of truly being on the same team. Before we were devoted to each other and our goals. But now there are people here that really need us to work together. And the raising of the stakes makes the teamwork that much more important and rewarding. I would also say, watching someone grow in real time is great. You watch your partner rise to the occasion and that always feels incredible. — Evan, 31, New York

We’ve Become an Amazing Team

Before having children, I had a great relationship with my wife. We communicated well and both got what we needed from the relationship. After we had our two daughters, we became an amazing team. We play off of each other’s strengths and pick up the slack when needed. We appreciate each other for who we are and what we bring to the table. Are there moments where the team players get frustrated with each other? Sure. But we always come back to the drawing board to figure out the next play. — Paul, 40, Tennessee

We Make More “Special” Time for One Another

Since having children, we have grown closer because of the shared love and connection we have for the kids. Anytime I see my wife going the extra mile for the kids, it makes me appreciate her more and my love for her grows stronger. Also, since having children, we have implemented a weekly date night every Tuesday night. This keeps our communication strong and makes sure neither of us feels neglected by the other. — Vladimir, 45, Michigan