Of course you feel stressed out when bad things happen.
But what you may not realize is that you can feel stressed out when good things happen, too.
Life experiences that we consider momentous can cause a steep rise in emotions, which the body interprets as stressful.
The birth of a child is no exception.
There you are, in your early years of marriage, learning each other’s nuances and improving your communication, when The Day comes. The day you find out your family is expanding.
You are overjoyed! You instantly envision your new life as a family unit.
But it’s not all pink and blue booties. Whether planned or unplanned, the period surrounding the arrival of a child can be anxiety-provoking.
Beginning with pregnancy, the process of bringing a life into the world comes with its ups and downs. And I’m not just referring to hormones! From morning sickness to finding out the sex of your baby, there are a number of moments that cause a wide range of emotions during the transition to parenthood.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the entire experience can also affect how you feel about the man you love.
We expect childbirth to bring couples closer together, but it doesn’t always fulfill that promise. For some couples, having a child can drive them apart.
Research shows that couples generally conceive in the first 5 years of marriage, which happen to be the same 5 years that hold the highest risk of divorce.
The exact impact that parenthood during this time period has on the divorce rate is unclear, but many studies show that couples become less satisfied with their relationship after the birth of their children.
Some lucky couples do see stability or even an increase in relationship satisfaction after the birth of a child, but not all.
So how can you prevent one of the happiest moments of your life from turning your marriage into a statistic?
Here are 5 tips on how to keep your relationship strong despite the pressures of adding to your family.
1. Utilize Your Support Network
Something wonderful happens the moment you bring your new baby home.
Family and friends appear out of nowhere, offering assistance.
As your baby turns into a toddler, those offers of assistance may dry up. That’s when it’s time for you to ask for help.
Don’t be too proud to reach out to trusted friends and family members when you need a break. They’re often eager to help, and those extra helping hands can take some of the weight off you and your partner.
2. Check In on the Relationship
After becoming parents, couples often put the needs of their children over that of the relationship.
Their kids’ needs are so much more urgent than their own. There is seemingly an endless supply of diapers to change or spills to be wiped up.
Don’t forget that your marriage also has needs. It requires attention, too.
What does your relationship need that it isn’t getting? What do you need that you aren’t getting?
Sit down and talk to your partner about what you can do to fill those needs, including his.
3. Take Time Away
Your little ones are your precious bundles of joy, but they cannot always take priority over your marriage.
Whenever possible, carve out some alone time for Mommy and Daddy to reconnect and have some fun together. These moments restore intimacy and make the connection stronger.
4. Schedule Time for Yourself
With the marriage and children vying for attention, there is usually limited availability for alone time.
But it’s vital that each partner have a few moments to tend to themselves and enjoy some self-care away from the spouse, children, and loved ones.
Schedule some “me time” for yourself. Use this time to participate in activities you enjoy or pampering. You deserve some relaxation!
5. Discuss Co-parenting Expectations
There are many duties that come with raising a child, some fun and others not so fun!
These tasks are often taken on as they come and not defined as any one person’s responsibility. This can lead to an uneven distribution of tasks as time goes on, resulting in frustration and resentment.
A way to alleviate this situation is to make a list of all parenting tasks and divide them up between you.
The division may not be exactly equal, but writing it down gives more insight to the work each of you is doing. The task list can help you realistically discuss your expectations and the toll those tasks may be taking on your relationship.
After all, your relationship is why you had children in the first place. Happy children need happy parents! Invest in your marriage, and your big happy family will reap the rewards.
For More from Dr. Ayo
Watch Dr. Ayo’s interview with YBTV, where she discusses her “bad girl” philosophy on love.
Read more articles by Dr. Ayo.