Fall in love, have a baby, watch your happiness and satisfaction plummet.
That’s what psychologists say becoming a parent will do to your relationship.
Gee, what a downer. Seriously?
Yes, the facts are facts. You can’t really argue them. For around 30 years, researchers have studied how having children affects a marriage, and the results are conclusive: the relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along.
Researchers have compared couples with and without children, and found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples.
But hang on a sec, could we be a little more positive about having children? Let’s refute that with some good stats…uh oh, wait a minute – a Google search didn’t really turn up any. Ok, I’ll try again. Nada. Zip. Nothing.
It turns out that positive research on the matter certainly isn’t in abundance. However, anecdotally real life couples report feeling closer and bonding more once their baby came along, despite the difficulties.
Yes, becoming a parent is hard on your relationship. Uh huh, it sure does change it. But I firmly believe it can affect it for the better if your love is solid and true to begin with, and if both parties are willing to work at it.
You’ve got to be willing to change through the difficult times when they arrive. Because they WILL arrive. Having a baby is a stressful, worrisome, nerve-wracking, exhausted, beside-your-self time. And speaking of time, you have zero of it. All of a sudden the afternoons and evenings you would spend lying around just ‘being’ with each other are gone. The sleep ins are gone. The romantic dinners are, largely, non-existent.
I say this from experience. My husband and I had trouble. Not ‘let’s get a divorce’ trouble. But becoming parents did take its toll for a while there.
We had two children within a short space of time. And we hadn’t been together that long when we decided to start trying for our first. But we just ‘knew’ we were made for each other.
It’s taken a lot of work along the way.
We went through a time where life was all about logistics such as which baby needed what, and what needed to be done around the house.
We had no time to ourselves, with my husband working a lot and me trying to work from home as well as look after the kids. It was rough. My husband felt like I didn’t care as much as I once did. Which was so far from the truth – but I don’t blame him for feeling like that because with everything I had going on I was absolutely exhausted and not able to give him any attention.
But it's better now. Some of that is due to having that newborn period out of the way. But we have actively tried some remedies, such as:
Getting support - if someone offers to help out, take them up on it. Don't feel bad. They wouldn't offer if they didn't want to help.
Have time off from being ‘parents’ to just be a couple - if you can, schedule in a regular date night. And stick to it. Yes, things come up. But make time with each other a priority. Find little moments in every day to appreciate each other.
ACTUALLY TALK - not just about logistics, but about how each other is feeling. Easier said than done, I know, when all you want to do at the end of a big day is veg out in front of the TV with a wine (or three). But turn it off, even just for 15 minutes and chat about your day.
Schedule 'us time', along with 'me time' for both parties - it sounds ridiculous, but we actually got out pen and paper and drew up a weekly calendar, writing on it when each of us would have an hour to ourselves sans-kids or work, and when we'd try to go out as a couple. It really helped.
Keep the romance alive - it might feel like the last thing you want to do, but try your best. Because afterwards your world will look just a little more rosy :)