Every expectant couple would have heard the light-hearted quips about getting enough sleep while you can before the baby is born, and how romance and intimacy will take a backseat once the baby arrives. The general expectation is that life after kids is tough, and many (understandably) wonder if the stress and sleeplessness is worth it. But couples in healthy, thriving marriages tell us that adding children to their families has been good for their relationships. Parenthood has pushed them out of their comfort zones and ultimately made them even closer.
Here are some of the ways that having children can help strengthen your marriage!
Prioritize your marriage
Image source: iStock
It’s true that once the children come along, time becomes a precious commodity, and time with your spouse can be one of the first things to get dropped from your schedule. However, couples in healthy relationships recognize that this ‘crunch time’ is precisely when they need to connect with each other. In fact, once you have children, you can become even more committed to spending time together by scheduling regular date nights into your calendar.
Tip: Research suggests that injecting novelty into your date nights can help rekindle the romance and boost marital satisfaction. Make it a tradition to try something new rather than sticking to your standard routine during each date night.
Increases your resourcefulness
Parenting often brings with it a slew of challenges such as childcare arrangements, and couples often have to to think creatively to find workable solutions. Some parents find themselves negotiating flexible working arrangements with their bosses, while other couples might opt to start a family business to generate income while being available for their children in the growing up years. These couples take bold steps together that they likely never would have considered in their pre-kid lives – with rewarding outcomes!
Our Tip: Don’t wait until your parenting challenges are causing a strain on your marriage – discuss the possible hotspots even before the children come along. This includes how the care-giving duties will be split between you, and how you intend to manage your finances as a couple.
Raises your confidence
Image source: iStock
Embarking on parenthood and raising a well-adjusted child can seem like an intimidating prospect. However, when you work together as a couple and see your young ones flourishing in your care, there is an indescribable sense of pride and confidence that you take in your family. There is virtually no other area in life where you will need to work as intensively or closely together to achieve successful outcomes. Parenting indeed draws you closer together.
Raising children together also offers couples the opportunity to affirm one another’s parenting efforts. Parenting is made up of a multitude of moments of teaching, disciplining and meeting the needs of your child. This takes immense initiative that is usually only witnessed by your spouse! Taking the time to encourage and affirm each other’s parenting is an excellent way to take your relationship further.
Our Tip: Often, couples can fall into the pattern of taking each other for granted. Think of a specific area where your spouse excels as a parent, and thank him or her for it. Not only will you encourage your spouse, you’ll also establish a new pattern of appreciating each other.
Have healthy conflicts
Image source: iStock
While every couple will experience discord at different times in a marriage, learning how to have healthy conflict is the key to whether these disagreements will make or break your relationship. It’s guaranteed that differences in parenting styles, values and beliefs will surface in your parenting journey together. Author and relationship expert Dr. Greg Smalley writes, “Conflict has the potential for beauty, but at the same time, there is also a “beast” lurking in it if we mishandle our conflicts”. Identifying areas of disagreement, respectfully and frankly sharing your views and most importantly listening closely to your spouse are all positive techniques to manage conflict and will strengthen the way you communicate with each other in the long run.
Our Tip: If you have a recurring disagreement, give yourselves a breather rather than discussing it in the heat of the moment. Find a quiet time later to sit and talk through it together; you’ll both be calmer and more receptive to hearing each other out.
Having children doesn’t have to mean the death-knell of your marriage as you know it. Investing time and effort in your relationship can bring you even closer together than before. Parenting offers you the opportunity to work as a team, meet challenges and cheer each other on – ultimately building a strong and resilient family unit that can weather life’s storms together.
Copyright © 2016. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.
Join Dr Greg and Erin Smalley as they help you and your spouse navigate the roadblocks in your marriage and create successful communication patterns at the upcoming Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage seminar.