Parenthood is supposed to be an exciting time, right? We are often told that “parenthood is hard, but it’s so worth it.” Is this the truth? By looking at Facebook and other social media sites, you would think, yes, it is so true. Having children must be blissful, the picture of happiness! It must be so fun to be a family.
The truth is, it has long been studied that child rearing actually takes a toll on relationship satisfaction and happiness. Why is this? Here are some possible reasons why:
1. Raising children can often take the spontaneity out of your marriage or relationship and out of your life. So, now when a couple wishes to have an evening out, instead of calling up for a reservations the day before, oftentimes a babysitter will need to be lined up in advanced. Child rearing oftentimes also takes the spontaneity out of sex. The baby’s schedule takes precedence. Add in sleepless nights and long days, the window for those intimate moments may be fleeting.
2. Faulty expectations. It is common for parents to be surprised by the demands of parenthood and the difficulty of balancing career, kids, marriage/relationship, family, and what’s left for a social life. If you add the stress of the partners having different expectations about child rearing and how it should be done, that can further drive a wedge between the two partners
3. Demands on time and money. This is pretty self-explanatory. Children are expensive. Children take up a lot of your time.
4. Hyper-focused on the kids. This tendency to only talk about and only worry about the kids can take its toll on happiness and partnership as well. Especially if the child requires special care or if there is a crisis.
So, now that I have deflated people’s balloons, we can talk about what to do to combat this.
PREPARE!!! Some people do pre-marital therapy before they get married. Why not try and seek guidance for child rearing? If that’s not something you are interested in, then talk, communicate, budget with your partner. Tell them your expectations of them as a partner in parenthood. Ask them what their expectation are. LISTEN to each other. Put a plan into place for crisis situations, job losses, money problems. Ask for support from your family regarding preparation. Ask them how they handled the transition of partner to parent. Look at your partner as your teammate in the adventure of parenthood, not as an adversary. Laugh. Play. Find things that make you happy, that relieve your stress, and implement them while waiting for baby, so when baby arrives, you have an artillery of coping skills.
And lastly, realize that you are not alone. Parenthood is contagious after all. The professionals at Texas Relationship Therapy are also here to help!
If you have any further questions about this topic or to schedule a session with one of our clinicians, please CONTACT US.
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