At first, having kids seems like a vital ingredient to achieving a stronger, better marriage. Many couples have unrealistic expectations as to what their life would be by the time a baby arrives. Kids are often looked at as the meat in a couple’s sandwich – the force that ties them together and binds them closer than ever before.
However, studies tell otherwise. According to a research of Berkley psychology professors Philip Cowan, Ph.D., and wife Carolyn Pape Cowan, Ph.D., 92% of their respondents, which are married couples, described a gradual increase in conflict after having their baby. Raging hormones, severe lack of sleep, limited time for talks or sex, struggles to make ends meet, and opposing views on “how to and not to raise a human being” – all these converge to forge a gap between you and your partner.
A leap into parenthood does test many couples but that does not mean this is the start of a dull, bland, and brittle marriage. There are ways to nurture your marital life despite having children,
Changing your kid’s diaper every four hours is often as draining as your long day at work. Likewise, both of you need a break. The most important ingredient to intimacy is finding time to reconnect.
Reenergize yourself by spending quality “we” and “me time every once in a while. As a couple, you may hire a babysitter or leave the kid with your trusted friends or parents, and set a weekly date. Have a romantic dinner. Watch a movie. Go to a concert. Stay at hotels. Have sex. Binge-watch series together. Or simply find time to snuggle on the couch after putting kids to bed. Associate your relationship with fun and intimacy on a regular basis to keep the fire burning.
You should also take a break individually, by arranging an hour or two for your partner to watch the baby while you hit the mall or while you do the things that you love – the things that’ll make you feel human again.
To say that having children is expensive is an understatement. If you have clashing money styles prior to having kids, then there’s no way those differences will be resolved after the baby is born. Get your financial act together, including your saving and saving habits and long-term goals before your bundle arrives.
It’s hard not to blow up at each other when you’re exhausted and frustrated. And besides, it sometimes feels to have someone to shout at after a long, stressful day. However, throwing up accusations and harsh words, even when you don’t mean them, shouldn’t be exercised.
When you argue, try to be specific about what you need. Saying “I had a long day and I’d really appreciate you feeding the baby tonight” is definitely better than saying, “you never help!” Additionally, speak to the situation at hand, not bring back the one that happened a few months ago.
To raise agreements in a calm, rational manner, make sure to steer clear of the following: direct criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Doing these allow you to solve the problem and find some common ground effectively.
We tend to have far more compassion, patience, and understanding for our kids than we do for our partners. You try to keep your cool when your toddler cries for no obvious reason and do everything to soothe her, but you often snap out when your partner is starting to get needy and demanding. But take note that, adults pampering too – not the babysitting kind of attention but the simple gestures that make them feel special.
Cook for him. Give him a massage. Express how much you love and admire him through simple yet sweet approaches. Continue to learn about each other’s needs, not just daily routines and personal preferences, but the things that make them genuinely happy. Taking the similar compassionate approach you have for your kids and giving that to your partner will go a long way.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for The Relationship Room, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and therapies for couples and families. When she’s not using her pen in writing self-help articles focused on love, dating, and relationships, she spends her time creating poems and screenplays, painting, and making music.