How Children Impact Married Life

Do kids really change your life – and your relationship with your spouse – as much as some people claim they do? My spouse and I have been thinking about starting a family, but we're nervous about "taking the plunge." Are we worrying unnecessarily?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

The short and simple answer is yes. Children will change your life – absolutely, definitely, positively. In the beginning it will be mostly a matter of interrupted schedules and loss of sleep. Later on you’ll encounter the vexations and victories of potty training, discipline, and the first day at school. Before you know it, you’ll be saving for college and giving up the new car and corporate ladder-climb for braces or soccer practice. Make no doubt about it: whether it’s trading sushi for macaroni and cheese or driving to piano lessons for the five hundredth time, you can’t help noticing some significant changes when kids come on the scene.

The more important question, though, is the one you didn’t ask: are the changes worth it? Do the rewards of parenthood outweigh the costs and sacrifices? Here again we have to respond in the affirmative. Kids will change you, your spouse, and your marriage – that’s inevitable. But they’re also capable of adding a whole new dimension of joy and level of fulfillment you can’t find anywhere else. So if you’re assuming that the changes that come with parenthood are so unpleasant that you should abandon any childrearing plans, we’d encourage you to think again. Children are more than just an awesome responsibility and a tremendous blessing from God. They’re also an opportunity to learn, grow, expand your horizons, and experience adventures you haven’t yet dreamed about.

That’s not to mention that there are some things you can do to cushion yourselves from the shock. You can start by being prepared to adjust your assumptions. From a certain perspective, this is just another way of saying that you need to be open – open to whatever God has in store for you. Let go of your need to be in control. For example, if you’re planning to have a child but are under the illusion that the baby can simply tag along as you follow your usual schedule, you may need to re-evaluate. This may be a time when you’ll have to give up some of your usual activities in order to provide the structure your small children need.

Another way to say this is that you need to be ready and willing to make sacrifices. The truth is that you’ll lose some of your freedoms if you choose to be parents. If you and your spouse can’t picture yourselves making sacrifices, this may not be the right time to have kids. It’s one thing to be realistic about the price of parenting. It’s something else entirely to resent your child because of the things you’re required to give up for his or her sake. So if you’re thinking of taking the parental plunge, move forward with your eyes wide open – remembering that most parents find the joys of parenting well worth the sacrifices of redirecting time, money, and energy into their children’s lives.

While you’re making these sacrifices and adjusting to these changes, don’t forget to give your marriage the attention it needs and deserves. When kids come along, you’ll have to work harder at keeping your relationship strong and healthy. You’ll have to become intentional about connecting. In the process, just as your child grows through developmental stages, you’ll grow as a couple. You’ll still need outlets such as dating, socializing, and spending time with friends, but they’ll probably assume a different form than in the past. If tight finances put movies and restaurants out of reach, try window-shopping, hiking, or coffee at the kitchen table. The important thing is that you’re together – and that you don’t spend the whole time talking about the baby.

Be prepared to lose sleep. During infancy, a child depends on you to meet every need, and for some parents that means getting up several times a night. During this stage of parenting both of you are likely to be sleep-deprived. So be ready to see each other at your worst. Since the wedding, you’ve probably started to see some self-centeredness in yourself and in your spouse. When the two of you are required to fill the stressful roles of full-time parents and spouses, these tendencies will probably surface more often. So keep your eyes open, and decide now to consider your spouse’s needs as more important than your own (Philippians 2:3-4).

In the beginning, you can expect to feel torn and conflicted in a number of ways. But take heart: if you’re courageous enough to tackle the challenge of raising kids, things will get easier – eventually. The demands of parenting change throughout a child’s life span. As they get older, sleeping through the night may become more common. But there will still be interruptions: calls to help a little one go to the potty, calls from a first slumber party when your child wants to come home, calls from a date that’s gone awry and requires you to pick your child up. Parenting will never be stress-free, but there’s a deep satisfaction that comes from watching children grow and change, encouraging them to know and serve the Lord, and developing an adult-to-adult friendship with them.

Obviously, we can’t touch on every aspect of this question in a brief response of this nature. Because of this, we’d like to offer an alternative. If you’d like to discuss your hopes, fears, apprehensions, and concerns about parenting with a member of our staff, we hope you’ll feel free to give our counselors a call. They’d be more than happy to spend some time talking with you over the phone.


Related Video
How Children Impact Married Life: Gary and Barb Rosberg discuss how a newborn affects a marriage and especially the sexual relationship.

If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

The First Five Years of Marriage: Launching a Lifelong, Successful Relationship

Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care

Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies


Preparing to Start a Family

Excerpted from The Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, a Focus on the Family Book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 1997, 2007, Focus on the Family.

Talk to a Counselor

Focus on the Family offers a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.