Kealia Watt Says Relationship with Husband J.J. Has Changed Since Welcoming Son

"A baby is not something that makes your relationship so much better and easier," the soccer star tells PEOPLE

J.J. Watt #99 of the Arizona Cardinals talks with his wife Kealia Watt and son Koa Watt prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Santa Clara, California.
Kealia and J.J. Watt with son Koa. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty

Kealia Ohai Watt and J.J. Watt know how to be great on the field and, now that they are parents, they are learning how to be the best teammates to each other off the field.

Kealia, 31, opens up to PEOPLE in this week's issue about how she and her husband's lives and relationship have changed since welcoming son Koa James in October.

The soccer player says having a new baby at the same time J.J. also stepped away from the NFL has been a "huge adjustment."

"We have grown so much as a couple and as partners through this whole thing," she shares. "We've really figured out how to be a good team and to work together and work with each other."

But the National Women's Soccer League player notes it has not been easy as the spontaneity of the romantic aspects of their marriage like last-minute date nights and trips away have been replaced with time with baby Koa.

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J.J. Watt and Kealia Watt
Amy Sussman/Getty

"That affects your relationship, and you really have to communicate and find time for each other, because the first couple of months, it's like that goes out the window because you have no time," the pro soccer player says of the change in her almost three-year marriage.

"A baby is not something that makes your relationship so much better and easier," she admits.

Kealia and her newly-retired NFL star husband have been putting in the work to ensure they are showing up for themselves, each other and their son.

"We have really gotten into a good groove of things to make sure that we're communicating and spending time together."

The pair also needed to get comfortable with parenting itself, which Kealia says has "been really hard" but Koa's smile makes it all worth it.

JJ and Kealia Watt rollout

"At the beginning, it's really hard as new parents, especially your first child, not to obsess over everything and stress," she says.

"And I definitely did that in the beginning. I was just so worried about every little thing, and we found a way to kind of relax into it and just we know we're great parents and just find time for each other."

The couple will also have more time for each other now that J.J. has retired. The former Cardinals defensive end played his final game last month and now, for the first time since the two sports stars met, they have a future with a clean slate.

"It's both so overwhelming, but also exciting to have just so much opportunity in front of us," Kealia adds, saying "it's been cool to just be with Koa and just enjoy time with him."

RELATED VIDEO: J.J. Watt Says Soccer Star Wife Kealia Ohai Is the Better Athlete

But schedule-craving J.J. can't help himself, and the "hands-on" dad has turned his focus to helping Koa follow in one of their footsteps.

"I know J.J. wants him to play football. I'm open to both... J.J. is saying he's going to be too big for soccer," she tells PEOPLE of the 3-month-old's possible future in sports. "J.J. is already having Koa doing standing drills, tummy time drills, and he's ready to train."

Kealia is a free agent after playing for the Chicago Red Stars and is currently working with Cord Blood Registry to share the benefits of cord banking, which can be used to treat a number of conditions including cancer, spinal cord injuries and, hopefully soon, Alzheimer's.

"Cord Blood Registry explained to me how it works, [and] it's incredible, it can help your entire family and is stored forever," says Kealia, who first started working with the company after her OB-GYN suggested she look into the practice which she says brought the couple "peace of mind."

J.J. and Kealia tied the knot on Valentine's Day weekend of 2020 in the Bahamas and the couple welcomed baby Koa almost three years later on Oct. 23, 2022.

For more on Kealia and J.J. Watt's life as new parents, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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