Relationships are never easy, but there is compelling evidence to suggest that having kids is likely to put an insurmountable strain on even the strongest of couples. 40-70% of couples report huge stress in their relationship after a baby is born. If these problems are not dealt with, tiny fissures soon lead to major cracks in the relationship and studies show that around 30% of couples split after their first child.
Sadly, broken families are the norm in today’s society. One in three children now lives in a single parent family. These children are more likely to grow up with health issues and are nine times more likely to commit a crime. Some would argue that allowing a relationship to break up is robbing our kids of their future, but how many couples really try to fix problems when their relationship is under threat following the birth of a baby?
The truth is that it’s all too easy to walk away rather than do the hard work needed to repair a rocky relationship. We would rather throw in the towel than accept we might be to blame for problems within the relationship. Marriage counselors can’t apply a magic sticking plaster to a relationship damaged beyond repair, but they can work with couples struggling to deal with the problems caused when a baby arrives.
When Two Becomes Three
When it’s just the two of you, self-care is relatively easy. After all, you only have each other to please, so if you decide to take an impromptu trip to the beach or stay in bed all day, you can. When a baby comes along that focus shifts, particularly for mom.
Tiny babies require a great deal of care. You have to be on-call 24/7, feeding, changing diapers, deciphering different cries, and devoting your undivided attention to this small person who is utterly dependent on you.
Cracks in the Relationship
Fathers can feel neglected by a lack of attention from the mother of their child. They understand that their spouse has to prioritize the baby, but on a subliminal level, they may feel abandoned. There are also financial pressures to face, particularly if income is reduced because one partner may have given up work to take care of the baby. Then there is sex – or rather a lack thereof. A new mom may feel unattractive and too tired to have sex, so her husband will miss the intimacy he’s gotten used to. However, whilst all of these issues come to the fore when a baby is born, for most parents, the hardest part of taking care of a newborn is the lack of sleep. Is it any wonder many couples are at each other’s throats within a couple of months?
When you’re tired, stressed and struggling to cope, tiny problems soon snowball into gigantic issues. You might begin to question why you two ever decided to have a baby. Your husband might even look for attention outside of the relationship. Resentment builds up and conflict becomes the name of the game.
Ask for Help
If this sounds like your current situation, and you find that fixing things on your own isn’t working, it’s time to look at marriage counseling. Having relationship therapy with a trained counselor provides a safe environment for both parties to air their grievances. They can help you find constructive ways to deal with the many changes you are both dealing with at this momentous stage in your life.
Change is good, but only if you have the toolkit to cope with it. Be honest with your partner and if you are struggling to cope with the stress of a baby, accept that you both need some outside help. Don’t become a statistic – you can make it work if you stick together.