You might have heard someone saying that having children is the most beautiful thing that can happen to a couple – it’s the crown of your relationship. While this is somewhat true, parenting is also a major change that affects how we act, think, and feel. Adding one or more person to your existing dynamic is stressful as it is.
Add to it the stress that comes with bringing up children while maintaining full-time jobs, being socially active, and taking care of yourself. Not to mention the flood of parenting tips you’ll get from your friends, family, and the media.
Sounds exhausting, right? In this mess, there’s a risk of jeopardizing your previously happy and stable marriage. So, let’s discuss how parenting stress can affect your marriage and what you can do to maintain harmony and understanding with your spouse.
New Role, New You
As we age, we learn that the people we meet and befriend influence us to change, slightly or significantly. Our personalities remain the same, but there are some changes in habits and the way we think. When we have children, the changes are more drastic. We stop being just “husband and wife” and take on additional roles of “father and mother.”
We might perceive these roles differently and expect different things from parenting than our partners. In fact, partners can even have different views on how to raise their kids.
If you’re in this kind of situation, it’s important to show understanding to your partner. Make all the important decisions together, set common goals for your family, and discuss your expectations regularly.
Did you have some big plans as a couple at the beginning of your relationship? Did you want to travel the world or maybe start a business together?
Maybe you had plans of your own regarding your career or something else. Depending on your situation, it’s possible that you’ll have to postpone or even give up on those dreams now that you are parents. This can be very frustrating, and it can cause quarrels. It can be even worse if you keep these frustrations to yourself and don’t talk about them with your partner.
Acknowledge each other’s dreams and see which ones are realistic. Try to encourage each other to make the tiny steps each day that can help those dreams come true.
The psychological changes are not the only “earthquakes” that will shake your life. A lot of new, stressful, and time-consuming responsibilities come with parenthood. The initial adjustment period is exhausting for new parents because it entails changes to mealtimes, sleep cycles, and emotional availability. And just when you think you’re used to it, the children change.
The responsibilities are not the same with newborns, toddlers, school-aged kids, and teenagers. You will need to be constantly adjusting, but putting in the effort to do it calmly as a team with your spouse will help take the strain off your marriage.
The most important role of parents is to be there for their kids. This can be very challenging because you need to get to know the little person you created and let them get to know you. It’s a form of dating all over again. When your baby cries, you need to figure out what’s bothering them without them telling you. When your kids get to primary school and face an entirely new challenge – exams – you need to know how to help them cope with exam stress.
Naturally, your partner will drop on your priority list, as will you on theirs. However, it is important to show one another that you still care deeply about the other person and the relationship you’ve built together.
Having children shouldn’t be observed through the financial aspect, but we live in a world where that is inevitable. Another family member means another addition to your expenses. This is the reason why many couples fight about finances when they become parents.
They are not used to the new lifestyle and, particularly at the beginning of this phase, it’s possible to snap and say some things you don’t mean. Make sure you make it clear that money shouldn’t be the reason to argue. Create a financial plan to help you reduce uncertainties and stick to a reasonable budget.
Having Less Time for Your Relationship
What do children eat? Milk? Vegetables? Burgers? Money? No, children feast on time. Good parent-kid relationships are created by devoting time to children. You need quality time to show your kids love and affection. However, by devoting so much time to your kids, you will need to reduce some time as a couple.
This can be hard on couples who are used to sharing everything. Always remember that the need for emotional connection and intimacy is still there, and express it as frequently as you can. Have an honest conversation about this. Show your appreciation in different ways. You can even ask a friend or family member to help you out so that you can squeeze in a date with your husband, for example, once a week.
Children truly are a blessing. We are often in awe of the love we can feel for them. But we shouldn’t forget that they are a product of a different love – the one we feel for our partner. Relationships change and grow. We grow with them. There will be stressful situations. There will be challenges that seem impossible to solve. But it’s easier to overcome them together.