We all know that marriage can be a challenge at the best of times. Constant compromises being made, endless amounts of patience being displayed and always having to worry about the needs of someone other than yourself. Throw some children into the mix and the levels of compromise, sacrifice and patience literally sky rocket. It’s so easy to only see things like that though, and not examine the other side of the coin. You see, in our 6 years of marriage, it is the last 3, since becoming parents, that we have become closer, more in love, more supportive and generally more bonded. Having children really has served to strengthen our relationship and here is why::

1.We learn to sympathize with each other more.

Whether it’s seeing your child sick or overcoming an emotional hurdle, we learn to sympathize with the human nature in each other. So often our expectations of each other become too high. We forget we are only human. We forget we need to be handled with care.

2.We learn to laugh a lot more.

There is something so beautiful about the simple innocence of how a child thinks. Laughing at a silly sound or dance routine, a corny joke or fun game, children always have a way of bringing out the child in us. There is something really liberating in learning not to sweat the small stuff. The amount of times my husband and I have been in a heated argument, to be interrupted by Noah doing something funny:. To realize we are both in hysterics. And its not limited to our own little worlds. To be constantly surrounded by their child like innocence in world tainted by greed, corruption, power and violence:.. well it’s refreshing to say the very least.

3. We learn the power of teamwork.

My man and I always thought we had this one waxed. We each had our jobs, our duties and shared responsibilities. There is nothing like the chaos that comes with having kids to blow all your pretty structure out of the water.  Men learn to be dads and this means getting your hands dirty with poop from time to time. As much as they have a job from 8-5, there is still stuff waiting to be taken care of when they get home. When a newborn joins the family your team working skills are put to the test big time. Suicide hour (which can actually range anywhere from 2-3 hours and start as early as 4.30 in the evening) has the ability to break the strongest of people. So having a routine or general plan can help. My trouble (like most of you moms out there) is that my husband often travels so I’m left to deal with this time on my own. Having said that, his role as breadwinner means his job is where he has to be and he is doing what he needs to for his family. When he is home, I’m privileged to have a man who is happy to take over from me with anything I need help with. If he needs help with something outside the office, i am there to help him too. We learn to assist each other and be flexible and accommodating. Small things go a long way and working as a team is certainly the recipe to a calmer, happier home. And thus a calmer and happier marriage.

4. We learn to fight properly. Or not all.

When things get heated and tensions arise, we have to be careful what we say and how we say it. Children pick up on these things and if we are trying to teach our children respect and forgiveness, we need to practice what we preach. There is really no point in teaching our children that its wrong to push their friends around on the playground when we are pushing each other around verbally at home. Children remind us to stop and think before we say things we can never take back. Before they come along it is much easier to allow things to escalate, to knit pick (who cares who said what about whose mother) or get aggressive towards one another.

5. We learn to make every moment alone together count

Before children we tend to take each other and time alone together for granted. Date nights are cast aside for lazy nights on the couch or girl’s night out for the second week in a row:. Somehow every night becomes the same and those special, intentional moments can become rare, or sometimes even lost all together. When children enter your life with all their gorgeous madness, your time is less of your own than ever before. This means that every waking moment alone together is gold. Precious sweet gold. The temptation to switch on the TV after a long day with kids is always there, looming over us but we know that choosing a candle lit dinner over watching rubbish on TV is a whole lot better for our relationship. If we can get out to a movie and dinner, well that’s even better:. Some comedy relief AND conversation? Yes please. My point? Date nights are rare so we make the most of them.

6.We learn to become more connected spiritually.

When we became parents for the first time any doubt we had about Gods existence vanished. We both find it impossible to deny there is a God when you see the miracle of your own children enter the world. When you look into your child’s eyes for the first time and the countless times after that, I’m not sure how the strongest of atheists can deny there is someone so much bigger responsible for all that joy, for all that new life. You also realize the importance of needing to be on the same page spiritually and growing together. Yes we all have our own journey and that’s great but we are also built to journey together and to raise our children with a common vision and shared values.

7. We learn to be romantic in the small daily things.

Before children enter the picture we have the time, energy and money to plan big, over the top and no doubt mind blowing romantic excursions. Island get-aways, long day trips to the winelands and spontaneous safari adventures (the key word here being spontaneous) But spontaneity is so certainly no longer an option, so you find small more subtle ways to be romantic and these small gestures go a very long way. My husband will do his best to plan an amazing night out for us every few weeks but when the grandparents are away or the kids are sick he will go out of his way to bring the romance home. My favorite bottle of wine, a new orchid (my favorite flower), an sms or phone call in the middle of the day for no reason other than to say ‘you’re special’ or ‘I love you’::leaving tooth paste on my tooth brush:. allowing me to sleep in till 8am ( yes folks that’s like lunch time in our house!) or telling me to go out with the girls, that he will wait up for me. That’s our love language now.  I’m not saying we would give up a trip to the Maldives but we have learnt to find romance in the smaller things.

So sure kids can steal the romance:. And take away from our perfect, neat little lives. Sure they can be the reason relationships take a whole lot more work. And they most certainly make things harder for you and your man on a Saturday night. But they can also do so much more for your relationship than you ever imagined. They bond you together for life through all their beautiful loveliness.  And I for one am a happier wife because of it. This is after all my happily ever after.

Hi I’m Leigh! Did you enjoy reading this post? I really hope so and would love you to stick around a little longer! Please feel free to browse my blog for other articles or to keep up with all the latest news and to be the first to hear about some great competitions, come and find me me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also email me directly at leeloobaggins@hotmail.com or simply subscribe below and never worry about missing out!