For months, possibly for years, you have thought of how your life would change once you had a child. You imagine your schedule becoming busier, perhaps filled with playdates, parenting classes, and errands with your little one in tow. You probably assumed that you would get less sleep, but that your memories would be happier.
Chances are that you did not consider how your relationship would change. If you didn’t consider this, you aren’t alone. Many parents get swept up in the feverish bliss of their new addition that they ignore some of the major couple and marriage issues that frequently arise.
Plenty of statistics cite a dramatic drop-off in marital satisfaction once a couple has children. Adapting to the role suddenly means having awkward and uncomfortable conversations, making tough decisions about childcare and parenting together, and coming to terms with the less palatable details of having a baby. Sleep deprivation and lack of energy also take a big toll on your physical state.
You should know that, though it may seem that the odds are against you, many couples weather the storm and survive parenthood. Many even emerge stronger and more in love than ever before. Here are some of the most common issues that arise, as well as advice and tips to help you cope with the challenges you face.
Lack of Intimacy
This is often the very first negative thing that couples notice once they bring their precious bundle home. The spontaneous partner or spouse you may have enjoyed before is suddenly looking and feeling drained, lacking sleep. “Going to bed” no longer means something sexual. Furthermore, many couples choose to allow their babies to sleep in their bedroom for convenience and late-night feedings. This could easily translate to even less time alone, a harsh reality that few discuss openly.
The fix for this isn’t straightforward. As difficult as making time with your partner or spouse might seem, it truly is the best way to keep things moving forward as a couple. If scheduling a date night is an option, be sure to make them consistent and meaningful. Some new parents have a hard time leaving babies with family or babysitters, so even a stolen moment in another room or a cup of coffee enjoyed while the baby naps are worth the effort.
Engage in Self Care
One of the drawbacks of becoming a parent is that most mothers and fathers feel pressure to tend to their babies and children constantly. The result is a feeling of guilt whenever that parent decides to do something indulgent or solo. A parent who doesn’t make time to tend to their own needs cannot maintain balance in their relationship either.
Accept that doing something for yourself every now and then isn’t selfish. Rather, it’s a healthy expression of self-care and self-love that will translate into your relationship, as well. Push yourself to take a walk, go to the gym, take a nap while your partner keeps watch, or treat yourself to something you have wanted for a while. A more relaxed, happy parent can also make for a more relaxed, happy partner or spouse.
Bickering Over Chores and Childcare
Parenthood is a brand new experience for you as a couple. Nothing can possibly prepare either of you for the toll it will take on your finances, your household chores, your schedule, or your relationship. Many new parents report feeling resentful of their partner’s schedule, lack of assistance, or disinterest in taking part in daily tasks. Likewise, many also complain that they are locked in a power struggle, or arguing about the way things should or shouldn’t be done.
When tension rises and tempers boil over, the best thing to do is approach schedules, chores, and tasks systematically. A clear and concise chart for chores, late-night feeding duties, and running errands can help tremendously. Some mothers and fathers also feel resentment over their companion’s lack of effort, but don’t regularly ask for help. This may seem silly, but remember to talk to your partner and tell them how you are feeling. This way, resentment, and frustration are kept at bay and everyone is happier.
Marriage or Couples Counseling
Finally, if you’ve taken steps to improve your relationship and nothing seems to be working, finding a therapist who can help you engage and explore solutions together might be an effective strategy. Susan Block, LMFT offers supportive and caring counseling for couples who are experiencing these and other relationship and marriage issues. Call our office today and request a free consultation, or schedule your appointment: 954-675-1936.
Susan Block is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in marriage, family and individual therapy. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University in 1997 and completed her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2004. Also an active member of The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Susan Block offers Couples Counseling in South Florida, as well as online therapy throughout the state. Click on the link to find out more: https://coralspringscounselingcenter.com/counseling-specialties/online-therapy/