7 Tips For Surviving Being Married ... With Children

I once heard the leading cause of divorce is marriage. I'm now convinced, it's children that lead the pack to divorce. It's so hard to stay connected mentally and physically to your partner when your children are physically stuck to you while mentally destroying you.

We have watched many happy couples during the first few years of becoming new parents struggle with balancing their relationship and being parents. Sadly, many of those couples are now divorced. Now, infidelity, abusers, liars and fu@kwits are one thing, but for the couples that just fell out of love, I get it. The Aussie and I have had many, many ups and downs in our relationship since becoming parents.

Today, we are celebrating seven gloriously years of marriage. (Think: War & Peace meets dirty porn. Kidding... maybe...) It's been amazing, hard, annoying, fulfilling and as much as I want to throat punch the fu*ker sometimes, I am so happy and blessed to call him my partner in life. In honor of our seventh wedding anniversary, we wanted to share a few tips we've learned the hard way about being married with children.

1. It takes so much friggin' work. During the days leading up to our wedding, we asked people about the secret to a long marriage, all of them answered almost word-for-word, It's not easy, it takes work. They were right. Marriage is anything but easy. Marriage takes loads of compromise, putting yourself second, but not all the time, accepting an opposing opinion, alternating weekend days so you both get a morning to sleep in... Basically, when times get tough, you have to work through the issue as a team. You know, the whole United We Stand, Divided We Fall, thing, it applies to marriage big time.

2. Talk to each other, not at each other.  Communication is Key. You have to talk to each other, and not just about the shit that annoys you about each other. Talk about your day, current events, the neighbors, whatever, just talk. A couple of years ago we fell into a nonverbal funk. We both knew we were drifting apart, so we agreed to spend at least 10-15 minutes each night after our son went to bed talking. We migrated out to the porch, sometimes walked around the house, sometimes had a beer. To this day, we go outside together at night regularly. It's really nice.

3. Affection is what sets you apart. Nothing beats hella good intimacy in a marriage. I once read that the fastest way for couples to reconnect is to have sex every day for 30 days straight.  I can definitely get down with that. The couples that stick together, well, stick together.

4. Date Nights Are Not Optional. Date nights are essential for staying connected. Especially, if you have children. You have to get out monthly and be human together. Not parents, humans. The people you are deep down inside underneath the baby spew, yoga pants, football games, practices, and recitals. Leave all that shit at the door and go out like two kids about to wreck the town. TIP: Can't afford a babysitter and dinner? (Who can anymore?) Order takeout and have a picnic in the yard, set the patio table with candles or make a carpet picnic and play music.

5. Be Independent. There is more to life than each other. It's unhealthy for one half of the partnership to live only through the other. Both of you need friends, events, and hobbies outside of your marriage. No one likes to be smothered. TIP: At least once a month go out independently with friends, retail therapy, a walk...

6. It's Not Supposed To Be Onesided. It's not fair for one half of the partnership to be in charge of dealing with all the crappy stuff. No friggin' way should only one person always cook, clean, change diapers, drop off, pickup, control the TV, wake up early with the kids on the weekend... Nothing brings on resentment faster. Write out everything it takes to keep the ship sailing smooth and work together to share the responsibilities. Both of you deserve to sit down at the end of the day.

7. Say, I love you and makeout, every day.  Love and affection are such an integral part of marriage. Every single day take at least a moment to appreciate each other and your relationship.  Tell your partner in life, I love you. Look into each others eyes and reconnect. Makeout. Be there in the moment with each other. Let everything else fades away. Because, in the end, that's one of the magical things about your partner, when you're together, the world melts away.

How do you keep the marriage fresh? Were you surprised about the huge amount of stress children put on the happiest of marriages? Me too. I've written many articles over the years about the ups and downs of marriage here.

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com