While there are countless beautiful things about having a baby, many new parents are surprised to find that this event can sap much of the energy from a good marriage. The common assumption that having a baby always brings a couple closer together is often sadly mistaken. Sure, some new parents become closer during this stage, but these are the lucky few. For most, early parenthood is a time in which the marriage must be put on the back burner in favor of the new child. This can be difficult for parents, but it does not have to be devastating.
It is impossible to predict how much stress a baby will cause. Some babies are relatively easy, while others are colicky. Some parents have particularly stressful careers, while others start out with a healthy work-life balance. Some marriages start out tense even before a baby enters the picture, and some are happy and loving with very little arguing. All of these factors influence how well a marriage will weather the arrival of a baby.
But there is one rule of thumb that most parenting experts agree on: if the marriage has problems prior to the arrival of a baby, the problems are likely only to get worse. That is why it is a good idea for couples planning to have a baby to assess the health of their relationship and seek marriage counseling if needed. Even moderately tense marriages can benefit from some counseling.
There are a few issues that commonly exacerbate marriage problems during early pregnancy, including:
- Poor sleep: We all get a little moody and irritable when we do not sleep well, and this can lead to arguments and tension in a marriage.
- Division of chores: Deciding who should do what baby-related tasks and household-related chores is a common source of tension, so try to approach these things diplomatically with your partner.
- Stagnant love life: There are many reasons why married couples’ sex lives often slow down after having a child, and while this problem is common, it should not be accepted as inevitable. Always remember to set time aside for some relationship intimacy.
- Deciding on parenting styles: Prior to the baby’s arrival, most new parents develop a rough outline of what kinds of parents they want to be. However, once parenthood becomes a reality, lots of unforeseen issues tend to come to the surface. Navigating these issues without serious disagreement is one of the most difficult things new parents have to do.
- Money: Poor financial planning ahead of a new baby can cause tensions to flare in the marriage. Try to work these things out ahead of time so that you do not have to make money-related decisions on the fly.
Post-Baby Marriage Survival Tips
Do not let things get out of hand. Now that there is a baby in the picture, it is more important than ever to make the household a warm and happy place. Here are a few things you can do to keep your marriage happy during this potentially trying stage.
- Always talk: Neither partner can read the other’s mind. If something is bothering you, raise the issue in a calm and respectful way. All problems can be solved through rational discussion.
- Spend time together: During the first few months of parenthood, you may feel that you have no time to spare. But when you do get those brief and fleeting quiet moments, spend them together as a couple. Curl up and watch a movie, talk about your days, or just lie in bed together. All of these things can work wonders for strengthening marital bonds.
- Share the load: Divide all responsibilities as evenly as possible. Of course, your work situation will play into this, but even if you are the parent who works more, always make an effort to pitch in as much as you can.
- Praise your partner: Whenever appropriate, give your partner a little positive reinforcement by telling them that they are doing a great job as a parent.
By Lisa Pecos
About Lisa Pecos: Lisa Pecos, a wife and well accomplished writer whom firmly believes in natural colic treatment for infants. She has authored numerous articles in Baby Care Journals on the topics of toddlers, kids and teenagers.
Photo by Anirudh Koul