In a recent article in Wall Street Journal called “ So cute, So hard on a marriage”,the author suggests that the satisfaction level goes down in a marriage after a baby is born. It highlights the importance of preparing your relationship even before thinking about bringing a child into a relationship or at least before the child comes. They talk about how most couples spend more time decorating the nursery than preparing their relationship to deal with the changes.
I completely agree with the author on the importance on preparing a relationship before bringing a child into it. When you bring a child into the mix, the child takes all the attention as the law of nature is supposed to be. Babies require love, attention, care that takes time from both parents. When you add work, social life into the mix, it can get very complicated. More often than not, when you add sleep deprivation to it, the couple is barely getting through the day. I believe that there are ways around it to help foster a healthy relationship post baby and thereby fostering a happier family.
I view the relationship almost as a separate entity that requires time and attention. The ideal would be to start when you are thinking about having a child and expanding your family. It would be helpful to talk about expectations, communication, what your vision is of your life and lives together. It would also be useful to talk about finances, as it is often a big source of stress.. Doing this would allow a foundation on which other things can be built on which you can fall back on when things get stressful.
However, I also feel that no matter what preparation you do, a whole new set of things arises when a child is brought into the relationship. Like a plant requires periodic attention, care and time to blossom after re-potting , so does a relationship after a major change like having a baby. Now, most parents would say, “I barely have time to take a shower, I don’t have a second to spare, now you want me to take extra time to do something else like go out for an evening, just the two of us, that is next to impossible”.
I actually agree that it is much harder to take time out and do something exclusive. I am referring to spending even 10 min with each other that has nothing to do with logistics like who is going to cook, or feed the baby or take the dog out or pay a bill. It might mean a simple thing like greeting one another with a hug and/or a kiss when you see each other at the end of the day. It might mean a few minutes of giving each other full attention while you relate what happened in the day. Even if you are talking about chores, when your partner knows that you are attentive and interested, it will help foster that bond. It also means recognizing that one or both of you are going to be stressed trying to balance life and work. This includes talking to each other with love and compassion. When each of you recognize your stress level and advocate for what you need, it will not only help you but also your partner and in turn the relationship. Asking for what you need with clarity with no blame or criticism will help your partner give you what you need.
Remember that these small things can go a long way. The saying ‘a stitch in time can save nine’ holds true. When a relationship can be worked on as it goes through its different developmental stages, it will foster a happy life and allow for connection to continue between the two of you as life goes on.