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How Parenthood Changes Marriage

How Parenthood Changes Marriage

Having a baby is both exciting and terrifying – and brings you and your partner closer together. Watching your spouse bonding with your newborn will bring tears to your eyes, even in the midst of dirty diapers, sleepless nights and spit-up on every item of clothing.

That's not to say that parenthood is all about the tender moments that you and your spouse share. It can put a strain on even stable, happy marriages. There have been studies done on married couples during their first year of parenthood, and two-thirds of them report that their marriage was sometimes strained. Besides the demands of caring for a tiny infant, both partners may find that their needs and wants change.

It's very common for new fathers to feel jealous of the baby: up until now, dad has had mom's undivided attention. A newborn demands a lot of time and energy, and dad can feel rejected and ignored. Sex will probably take a backseat as both parents adjust to their new lifestyle and responsibilities.

So, what can couples do to minimize marital strain during baby's first year? First, new moms need to recognize that their husband won't automatically know what to do when baby comes. Many mothers get angry at their partner if it seems like he's not helping out enough with childcare or laundry. Take the time to sit down as a couple and discuss how domestic responsibilities will be divided, and what each person needs from the other. If dad isn't “getting it,” leave him with the baby for a day or two – once you feel comfortable  – with no backups.

Try not to criticize your mate if things aren't done exactly to your standards. Let dad learn on his own, and shush your maternal instinct when the outfit doesn't match or the diaper isn't changed the “right” way. Learn to appreciate the help and don't forget to praise your spouse for putting in the effort.

Don't let things deteriorate because you feel you're too busy or tired. Marriage takes work, and even more so when you have a baby.

Pay attention to your sex life once your doctor gives you the go ahead. Dad needs to be aware too – a mom who has a chance to take a hot bath while he takes care of the baby, and who feels loved and appreciated will be more likely to be in the mood for romance!

You can keep your marriage strong after you have a baby. Both partners need to be aware of the others' feelings, and work on nurturing their relationship while raising their child.


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