It’s good to be aware of the new stresses that are going to bombard your relationship and to come up with a plan of attack for how to handle them when they do.
Are you ready for a cold, hard dose of truth? I’m warning you:
DO NOT READ ON IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN BLISSFULLY UNAWARE OF THE REALITY OF BEING MARRIED WITH CHILDREN.
To start this off nice and terrifyingly, let’s read a quote from one of my favorite books Brain Rules for Baby by Dr. John Medina:
“We now know that this long-term erosion is a regular experience of married life, starting in the transition to parenthood. Marital quality, which peaks in the last trimester of a first pregnancy, decreases anywhere from 40 to 67 percent in the infant’s first year. More recent studies, asking different questions, put the figure closer to 90 percent… Indeed, one-third to one-half of new parents display as much marital distress as troubled couples already in therapy trying to save their relationship.”
What’s more, that stress and distress felt in a marriage is also felt by the baby. Dr. Medina goes on to explain:
“Infants younger than 6 months old can usually detect that something is wrong. They can experience physiological changes–such as increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones–just like adults. Some researchers claim they can assess the amount of fighting in a marriage simply by taking a 24-hour urine sample of the baby.”
I can hear your internal screams and worries now:
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? HOW DO I STOP IT? IS IT INEVITABLE?
I had the same thoughts, fears, and panic. I love my husband. I love my family. What do you mean I have a nearly 50% chance of becoming miserable just because I had a baby? That can’t be!
Well, four months into parenthood, I can tell you, it can be. I’m not saying that it is. Hubby and I are actually doing really great. But, that’s because we sat down before our baby girl arrived and talked about all of this stuff. I’m not saying that we’re relationship gurus over here, and that our marriage is perfect. Far from it.
What I am saying, though, is that it’s good to be aware of the new stresses that are going to bombard your relationship and to come up with a plan of attack for how to handle them when they do. Dr. Medina, in his book, goes on to discuss the biggest struggles new parents will face and how to prepare for them. And yes, we have faced them. We’re still facing them.
But, we were prepared.
And, my hope with this post is to help you and your partner get prepared, as well. Our way may not work for you, but hopefully this will spark you to start having these conversations and figuring out your way to prepare for, handle, and make it through all the troubles of being married with children.