What Marriage Looks Like After Kids
What is romance for a husband and wife after kids? Listen to busy wives talk about the effort they put into their love lives and what romance means now.
Mariel Gutierrez, Host: You’re listening to Faith and Family, a Christian family community that aims to promote Christian values. I’m Mariel Guiterrez. Coming up [on] almost 12 years of marriage, the structure of our date nights have changed to say the least. My husband and I are all about that “Netflix and chill,” but heavy on the “chill.” It’s so chill that when we have any spare minute we’ll usually choose sleep over food or going out. But we’re so tired! We’ve got jobs, we’ve got a pet, we’ve got kids – but is this romantic? After kids, is dating even necessary? These are the things we’re talking about today on Tired Moms, a Faith and Family podcast. And here to weigh-in is our favorites, Bernie, Emirick, and Jewel. Hey, Moms!
Everyone: Hey! Hi! Hello!
Mariel: Ok, ok, so quick question before anything. Ready?
Bernie: Go ahead.
Mariel: Most romantic date you’ve ever been on with your spouse, go!
Bernie: We were at Walmart, and we held hands.
Everyone: Oh my gosh! So sweet! So romantic. Boom! Did you post about it?
Mariel: Oh my gosh, filters on filters.
Emirick: I’m trying to search in my brain the last most romantic date, and I would have to say… we go on frequent date nights, little pockets of just hanging out here and there, but…
Mariel: Oh, your anniversary just came by too, right? Happy Anniversary!
Emirick: Oh thank you. Oh yeah, that wasn’t too romantic.
Jewell: I think that’s why we’re struggling, Mar! When you say, go! What’s your most romantic… It’s like, oh my gosh!
Mariel: I didn’t have an answer. I had to text my husband!
Bernie: Have you got an answer yet?
Mariel: I did! After twenty minutes, he texted me back, and he was like … I think for me, there was one anniversary, a random one, I don’t know what it was, six? Seven? We just went to the drive-in movies and we bought five large fries from Five Guys and you know those fries are huge, right? And we just kind of like sprawled it at the back of the car and ate. But that to me was fun because I like food? But he texted me, and I was like what do you think was our most romantic date ever, in your opinion? And he said, getting lost in Saint-Denis, Paris. And I have to tell you, Saint-Denis is an unsavory place. That’s a place where you…and say hey don’t go there. But we ended up there because we got off on a wrong stop and he said it was getting lost in Saint-Denis, Paris because we had to stick together to survive.
Jewell: When you really want me to think about romantic dates, before kids, we would go all out, everything is full on massage, the whole nine yards.
Bernie: We’re going there people, we’re going’ there!
Jewell: But you’re right, with kids now, it’s like to me, that peaceful moment where it’s just you and your husband…
Emirick: Even just hanging out downstairs when everyone else is asleep!
Everyone: That’s true!
Mariel: Well, with that said, do you guys ever feel like you have to choose between who you give your attention to? Like your kids or your husband?
Bernie: When I was pregnant, women would come up to me saying you better know how to divide your time because your husband is going to get jealous, and he’s going to get needy, and blah blah blah blah. And so, after when we had the baby, and he was almost a year old, I was asking my husband, I know I don’t look the same as I used to prior to this baby, but do you feel a little neglect, or tell me how you’re feeling? And he was just like, “I’m totally cool.” And I don’t know if he was just saying that on my behalf not to let me worry, but I think because we had our child later in life, we were without kids for ten years, and so those ten years we were just all about each other. We didn’t know it was gonna take us long to conceive, so by the time our boy came, it was like this miracle that happened, so…
Mariel: So you both kind of understood that it was all about him?
Bernie: We understood [that] this is what it is. This is what we prayed for. This is why we went to church every day, and kneeled, and prayed. This is God’s gift, so God gave us our time to just be crazy, and go out on crazy dates, romantic, crazy, all of that. But now, it took us very long to have this boy, it’s just all about this boy! So, I mean, I check on him even now. Are you cool? Are we cool?
Jewell: It’s your maternal instinct to really cater to your kids, and then there are many times that Harmony [her husband] would feel like, ok – not that he felt neglected, but I don’t think he understood why if he was asking for any attention from me, it would annoy me. Because it’s like, seriously? I’m devoted to these kids, blah, blah, blah. But one thing I realized was… and we had a very great heart to heart talk. I realized in the last five years, I was pregnant, I gave birth, I was pregnant – because my kids are not that far apart from each other – and I was pregnant, I gave birth, I was pregnant, I gave birth. So my body, my hormones were just all over [the place].
Bernie: Oh, I can imagine.
Jewell: And there was this time where I realized, oh my gosh, and I told him. I said I don’t know why you still love me the way you do because I would not love me the way you love me if I was dealing with me. My husband is [still my husband]. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I still have to be a wife, so it’s a conscious effort that I can’t just use the kids as an excuse. Like, “oh, the kids, the kids,” because that was my excuse for a few years. Now I tell the kids, “Kids! We’re going on date night. Sorry!”
Bernie: You stay home with grandma!
Jewell: Right?! Seriously. Jasmine [her daughter] would be like, “Mommy, I don’t want you to…” Girl, I’m sorry. We’re going on a date night.
Mariel: Good for you! Good for you guys.
Jewell: So, now the kids are like, “Are you guys getting a massage again?!”
Emirick: It’s a good thing you guys still get massages! Awww!
Mariel: What does romance evolve into after a while? Is it still even necessary?
Emirick: Yes. It is 100% necessary.
Bernie: It evolves into something different. I mean I’ve talked to moms where they’re like,”You know what girl? He took out the garbage, put the kids to bed, gave them the bath. I got to watch an hour of TV, and read my favorite book. I love my man.” And to that mother, that was
Mariel: … romantic!
Bernie: He took care of everything. I mean she seriously said, “Girl, he took the garbage out, he put [the right bag] in the right recycling bin.”
Emirick: That’s big! If he puts the plastic liner after he took the trash out, you’re so romantic right now.
Bernie: When we’re… just my son, he’s doing his own thing, he’s playing, and my husband and I are sitting next to each other on the couch, and he puts his arm around me? I’m cool. I feel like I’m on top of the world! So, I think that it varies, but there are some couples out there that do want the whole, still, the gifts, fancy gifts, etc. It’s different from everybody.
Emirick: I agree. It has evolved [into] the little things. Even a funny text, just unimportant banter, it’s funny! And you’re like, “Aw he’s so cute, he’s so sweet,” just those little things.
Mariel: You guys [have] heard about the love languages, right? The five love languages?
Everyone: No. Can you remind us what they are again?
Mariel: Gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch.
Emirick: For me words of affirmation.
Mariel: Me too! I think mine is words of affirmation as well.
Bernie: Physical touch, heeeeey! That’s what I’m talking about.
Emirick: What are we talking about?! Acts of service? Like, I made you lunch?
Bernie: Am I saluting him?
Mariel: You know what’s funny? I went through this list with my husband, right? And I was like, “What would you say you do?” And I was like, “I’m definitely words of affirmation.” And he’s like, “How come you get to choose yours?” I said, “Ok, you tell me what I am.” And he’s like, “I think you’re words of affirmation.” And I’m like, “well, there you go.” And then he’s like, “What do you think I am?” I’m like, “I think your acts of servitude!” He’s like, “What?! What is that??” The thing with my husband is that he’s not so much a touchy feely or a words kind of guy. He’s more of a… ok, whenever my head hurts, for whatever reason, he always brings me food! And for the longest time—
Emirick: He knows the way to your heart.
Mariel: He does, and I’m like, “if I’m getting chubby, it’s your fault.” But that’s the thing, he’ll do things like that. And for a long time, I’m like, “I don’t understand why you keep bringing me food. This is not a solution. Give me a Tylenol. Give me like three Tylenol, and we’re good.” But, I’m beginning to understand that I can’t dictate the way he shows me his love, and then for the longest time, what I wanted was… I used to believe that if I show you this kind of love, you have to mirror it back. I honestly thought that’s how it went! And because I kept saying, all right, because I like words of affirmation, I’m not gonna lie, I love it. Yeah, tell me I’m awesome! Tell me I’m pretty! Tell me I’m still hot, you know?! So, I always tell him that, hey you’re handsome! And I’m waiting, and I’m like, “dot, dot, dot!”
Emirick: I agree with what you were saying earlier, Mar. I try to mirror what I want, and it’s like, I’m showing and telling you all these things, words of affirmation, I’m doing this, and how come you’re not doing that to me? It took a conversation during that time when we were having difficulty where he pointed out all the different ways that he loves me that I never paid attention to! You know?! Because he’s an “acts of service” kind of guy.
Mariel: Oh? They need to meet.
Emirick: Yeah! He will bring me water every night before I go to bed. He will make sure my keys are in a place that I could find them. In the winter, if he feels like the mist [has] covered my windshield, he will go out there, and wipe it off, and just do these things that I kind of took for granted because that’s how he shows his love. That’s his acts of service, and I never really saw it that way because I’m a words of affirmation kind of person. And I’m like, “you’re not doing these things that I am doing to you, and so, you don’t love me.” You know? And then when we have that conversation even before this whole you taught me the five love languages, it’s just profound, because when we did have the conversation, he said you don’t notice these are things I do because I care about you and I know you like to drink water every night and all these things. And I was just like “oh man”… I felt so stupid. Like “ok, yeah, you’re right.” It’s good to communicate and if you can express to your spouse “this is how I feel loved”, and they could say the same thing to you and you could take care of each other that way.
Jewell: Can I just share a story on that? There was this one time where we’re watching a movie and I’m like moving my neck “ah, my neck hurts” and he’s like “oh really?” And so I’m like, “oh ok the guy doesn’t get it.” So I move my neck on the other side. “Oh gosh, my neck and my shoulders are hurting”. And so we were watching a movie so he’s like “oh ok”. And I got mad. I’m like “honey, my neck is hurting” and he’s like “ok”. This was when we were first married so he doesn’t know yet, and so I’m like “aren’t you gonna massage me?” And then he’s like “honey if you want a massage just tell me to massage you”. And he goes “how many times have I said my back hurts, do you come rushing massaging me?”
Jewell: And that’s when Harmony made me realize we really have to communicate. ‘Cause what he thinks is a certain way is totally oblivious like we don’t even think about it and what we think is so crystal clear, they don’t really see. And so that communicating what makes you happy, what makes him happy is totally key. So I think that’s how we learned ok, this is how we show love and that’s how we show love. And I kid you not ladies, majority of the time, he knows how to show his love that way. So, I get pretty relaxed.
Emirick: Massage is nice. I hope you’re reciprocating Jewel.
Bernie: You guys have a deal right?
Jewell: Oh no, we barter. That’s what we do. That’s what ten years of marriage is, you call it bartering.
Mariel: That’s true. No you know what’s funny about communication is that I feel like for a long time, I used to over-communicate. Like you said, I’m “words of affirmation” kind of person. And I would be like, “hey, tell me you love me.” I would be that girl. I’d be like, “Do you love me? Do you love me?” Because I was so needy, especially after the kids, I was like I need to hear it. “Why do you love me? Tell me now.” And we’ll be like at Jollibee and he’ll be like “Uhh, oh my gosh.” I’m like “Now! What? You can’t even figure out why? Like one reason?”
Bernie: Before you order that chickenjoy, tell me you love me.
Mariel: “How do you know how to order extra gravy hella fast but not know why you love me?” I would get so offended, but you know what, like you guys said, communication. I found out that that hurts him when I do that. Like when I say, “Hey, why do you love me? Why do you…?”
Jewell: He probably feels insulted.
Mariel: He does, he did. He was like, “You know what I’ve been busting my behind here trying to show you in these different ways that I love you but all you can see is what you think you need to hear.” I was like, “Wow, I gotta grow up now.”
Emirick: I feel like we have the same relationship. I was doing the same thing. I wasn’t noticing the way he loved me.
Jewell: Do you find it romantic when you watch your spouse perform their duties?
Emirick: It is, my husband is an overseer and when he performs his duty, when he does his visitations, guards the chapel…
Bernie: Fill them forms out, fill them forms out.
Jewell: Our definition is so different from how others see it as.
Emirick: Cause he’s being a man, he’s being that leader.
Jewell: And I love how all our husbands are leading by example and it’s like we find it so attractive ‘cause you feel like “yeah, that’s the man of our household.”
Everyone: Yes. Mhm.
Jewell: I find it … so that’s when I think when I’m with him; I find so much comfort, so much peace. Our household is gonna be fine, so when he holds my hand, there’s that sense of he’s leading our…
Jewell: Yes, security! That he’s leading our family. That he’s leading our family in worshiping and serving God the right way. You feel me ladies?
Everyone: Absolutely. Yes, yes.
Emirick: It warms your heart. It gives you peace and you feel safe. Because of those feelings, I don’t know.
Jewell: That’s romance. I’m attracted to him. That’s what’s romantic for us. For sure.
Mariel: Absolutely. I think we can agree what is romantic is really subjective, right? We understand that. But when you promise to be with someone forever, we have to make an effort to make it exciting and a fun journey so we made that promise to our spouse in front of God, to be the best kind of wife for our husbands so that means we have to put in significant effort. Maybe instead of waiting for an opportunity to come up, we need to create opportunities. Steal those gazes, smiles, and kisses. And who knows, maybe on your next Netflix and chill, you might even be conscious. Thanks, Bernie, Jewel and Emrick for joining us today.
Everyone: Thanks for having us. Thank you. That was fun.
Mariel: I know, always so much fun. But maybe we need to book like two hours next time.