In your effort to be the best mum and dad, striving to be a good spouse can take a backseat. Here's how to balance it all...
Making a marriage work is the responsibility of a mum and dad, but kids ruining your marriage can sadly happen. While it’s unfair to blame parenthood for the demise of a relationship, it is an issue worth exploring, as it affects many couples.
William J. Doherty, a family therapist and author of Take Back Your Marriage, tells ABC news that 70% of couples experience a decline in marital satisfaction after they have kids.
“After we have children for most of us our energy begins to drain out of the marriage relationship unless we put something back in,” he told ABC news. “If we’re married we simply must give some time and attention to the marriage if we want it to survive.”
He warns couples against “overfeeding your children and starving your marriage,” which is excellent food for thought.
A previous study published in the History of Human Sciences journal supports this claim, saying that parenthood caused a decline in marital happiness. The study also found that couples who planned pregnancies were more satisfied with their relationship.
Kids ruining your marriage: Why does this happen?
Relationship experts and authors of Secrets of Great Marriages Linda and Charlie Bloom believe that kids should not take center stage in a marriage. When this is the case, couples tend to neglect to care for their relationship.
Yes, children should be a high priority, but parents should be careful not to make them the ONLY priority. If this happens, “resentment, neglect, resignation, and alienation” can start to fester. This weakens a couple’s bond. Kids are more intuitive than we think; they can tell if their parents are unhappy or unfulfilled.
Some people learn about this the hard way, like one mum who shared her sad experience in an article for PopSugar. In the article, she recounts how “having a baby destroyed [her] marriage.”
She and her then husband were so busy looking after their baby girl that they forgot to “look at each other.” Not realising they were taking each other for granted, she writes how they found out they neglected to care for their relationship a little too late.
They ended things after 10 years of marriage.
8 tips to prevent kids ruining your marriage
Clinical psychologist Craig Malkin of Harvard Medical School believes that “kids don’t kill marriages.” In an article for Psychology Today, he writes how the demands of parenthood aren’t solely to blame for the decline of romance, but kids ruining your marriage is a very real possibility.
Dr. Malkin has worked with quite a number of couples and what he’s noticed is that their marriage seems to improve after having kids simply because becoming parents made them strive to be better people.
By cultivating a happy marriage, you are giving your kids a happy home. You also become role models for what a good relationship is and should be.
Couples should strive to cultivate their closeness even after having kids. Here are some ways to do this in order to prevent kids ruining your marriage!
1. Make an effort to stay connected
Don’t take having a weekly “date night” for granted. Make sure to greet each other and say goodbye with a hug and kiss. Go to bed early so you can rehash your day, sharing or even discussing issues you faced.
Make sure that before you say good night, you did something to make your spouse feel in tune with you.
2. Embrace the changes of being a mum and dad
Instead of missing the “freedom” that comes with having no kids, just embrace it as a valuable part of marriage.
Having alone time as a parent feels much more precious. Embrace this feeling of specialness and use this as an opportunity for closeness. Sit beside one another, hug while talking. Let each other know how you value their company.
3. Share the responsibilities
Exhaustion can easily happen when parents overextend themselves. Make life easier for your spouse by picking up after yourself. Help them with chores and other responsibilities. Divide tasks to avoid resentment to build over who does less.
4. Don’t baby your kids
When your kids are older, encourage them to be more independent. Not only does this help them become well-adjusted people, it allows you as a couple to have some time together.
5. Fight with love
Having a happy marriage doesn’t mean you never fight; it simply means you know how to fight the right way. Even if you argue, there is always love and above all, respect. You work through issues together and are honest without ever being mean to one another.
6. Schedule sex
Make time to be intimate! Sure, this seems terribly unromantic, but having a set date and time for sex pushes you both to make time for one another in bed. Sexual satisfaction is after all a key factor of marital happiness.
Reliving the times when it was just the two of you can help you feel closer. Why not recreate your first date? Not only will this break routine, it will help you appreciate having your beloved kids in your life.
8. Accept the stages of marriage
Value each phase of marriage, even if it can get difficult. Reassure one another that you will always be there.
Know that as you grow as people, so too does your relationship. Parenthood changes your viewpoint and priorities. It inspires you to strive to be better for the love of your kids. But what should never change is your love for one another.
Stop and appreciate just how far you’ve come and how you’ve both grown as people after you became parents.
How do you keep your bond strong in marriage, mums and dads? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.