Having a baby can put a strain on even the strongest of relationships. In fact, study after study shows that two-thirds of new parents report a decline in their marriage relationship during the baby’s first year. Renowned marital researcher, Dr. John Gottman, calls the months following childbirth “a period of great joy as well as potential problems”.
It’s a joy to see a child grow but it comes with potential problems because marriage relationships tend to take a backseat. The romance centered marriage unknowingly drifts to a child centric relationship. The joy of bringing a child into the world temporarily substitutes marital satisfaction and dissatisfaction develops when the reality of parenthood unfolds. The couple embarks on a new battle of juggling marriage, child and career.
Should parenthood rob the joy of marriage? Is there a way to keep the romance alive and marriage relationship growing? The underlying truth of the matter is that essentially, happy marriages make for happy parents. All it takes is a few intentional actions and precautions to not only build the marriage but also to continue to grow as parents. All you need to do is firstly communicate, communicate, communicate, secondly prioritize your marriage and finally find a support system.
Communication the key to understanding
As blood is to the body, so is communication to marriage. No relationship can ever survive without this vital life-skill. Statistics prove that a couple talks to each other for not more than 4 minutes a day about each other. Here are a few essentials to note while communicating with each other:
- Avoid talking just about the children; take time to talk about each other and the new feelings that parenthood has brought about. The husband may feel neglected and replaced by the child while the wife may not feel as attractive post-pregnancy. Talk openly about what is ahead and the physical, emotional and mental strain resulting from 24/7 parenting duties.
- If you are talking about the children, talk about their activities, studies, actions, reactions, and feelings too. Agree together on the boundaries of discipline, instructions and rules. This kind of communication is very essential to keep kids from manipulating and dividing the marriage.
- Find time to talk about your frustrations, fatigue and even moments of anger. A healthy expression of emotions will strengthen your marriage and will also directly influence the kids. They will imbibe the way various emotions like anger, guilt, sadness, happiness, love, etc. can be expressed and help them to build healthy emotions.
Prioritize your marriage
Is your marriage everything you ever hoped it would be? Or has it been pushed down the priorities list since the children came along? Achtung ! ! ! Parenthood is a full-time job and it dramatically changes marriage relationships.
Parenthood can sweeten and strengthen your relationship. Marriage is the foundation upon which the entire family is built. If your marriage is strong, your whole family will be strong; your life will be more peaceful, you’ll be a better parent, and you’ll, quite simply, have more fun in your life.
- Consciously put your spouse first and learn to appreciate each other instead of criticizing.
- Find a way to spend time with each other. Child care is never ending and can be quite stressful. Get organized, plan a dinner or an evening out together.
- Avoid the tendency to blame each other for the changes. Put the need of your spouse first and appreciate him or her. Changes are but natural instead of making critical comments on do’s and don’ts, take time to appreciate each other’s efforts.
- Appreciate your partner’s parenting skills. Make a resolution to give your spouse at least one compliment each day.
Find a support system
Seek out friends who are open to share the struggles they went through during the early years of parenting. Just knowing that there are others who walked the same path can be quite reassuring and provide the much needed emotional support. A support system will help you realize you are not alone. None of the above is possible if the driving force is not LOVE. The elements of love need to be sincere and genuine for a strong and powerful marriage. This is definitely possible if the marriage is built on selfless love.
True Love gives instead of expecting to receive. Love that seeks to understand more than being understood. Of course it’s needless to mention that marriage as well as parenting can never be successful without the commonly available yet rare commodity – TIME. Take time to invest in your marriage during this crucial new phase of your relationship, you will never regret it.
The best gift we can give our children is a strong and healthy marriage. A model marriage greatly influences parenting while a weak marriage increases the struggles in parenting.