I've been thinking about something. Two somethings, actually. Marriage and children. About how these two things are so intimately bound at this point for me, and for so many of us. We are in the trenches with three young girls and it is literally hard for me to remember a time before they were here. But there was a time. And it was a wonderful time of freedom and discovery and self. A time when Husband and I were able to go to long, rose-soaked brunches at the original Bilbouquet, travel without packing car seats, sleep until 10am without little chubby fingers poking at our faces.
But now there are indeed kids. Three of them. And we love them to itty-bitty pieces even though they exhaust us and confuse us, even though much of the stress we feel in our lives relates in some direct or indirect way to them. Are they healthy and happy and thriving academically and emotionally and socially? Are they eating well enough and sleeping long enough? Are they treating others with respect and kindness? Are they watching too much television? So many things to think about and fret about.
But also so much to savor and celebrate. These three little creatures who came from us, who are ours. What a distinct privilege it is to have them in our world. They are our world. And they have brought us closer than anything else. We are forever tethered by these three people. What an incredible, deeply powerful, purely good thing that is.
But here's what interests me, a paradox of sorts:
Children qua children have the power to make or break a marriage.
What if the road to parenthood is littered with profound challenges? What if a child is born with health concerns? What if the arrival of children exacerbates financial woes? What if a child has a particularly tricky temperament? What if having kids stirs up tremendous conflict, predictable or no, between a couple? What if kids act out or develop in such a way that the parents are at a loss and take it out on one another? What if kids come along and romance dies and two people argue like cats and digs over how to raise those kids?
But what if the arrival of a child cements a bond that is otherwise on the weaker side? What if two people look at that baby and fall madly in love and commit to each other in ways they might never have before? What if challenges arise on the road to becoming parents or the road to raising kids that make a couple stronger? What if having kids entails a near-permanent circus-like domestic chaos that makes two people laugh and love each other more than ever?
I could go on and on, but I won't. What I want to know is what you think...
- Do you agree that children can both cement and challenge the foundation of a marriage and perhaps do both of these things during the course of a single marriage?
- Are you horrified (like I am) when you hear someone confess that his/her marriage is falling apart and says maybe we should have another kid?
- Has having kids helped or hindered your marriage or both?
- What did your marriage look like before kids? After?
Previous Posts on the Here Year/Marriage: