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Marriage Counseling Myths: “Kids Will Improve/Ruin Our Marriage”
Marriage Counseling Myths: “Having a Baby Will Fix Our Problems”/ “Having a Baby Will Destroy our Relationship”
If you are trying to plan the best to start having kids, you and your partner are likely experiencing a lot of mixed messages. In fact that’s probably why you are reading a marriage counseling blog! From some people, you may hear how having a baby saved their already failing marriage. So, no need to worry, right?
But then you might hear stories of how a baby drove a normally happy couple apart and led to their divorce. All of these mixed messages might seem confusing and concerning for you and your spouse as you try to plan your family. (Related Article: Marriage Counseling- Tips for New Parents).
So, how can you know if you are making the right decision when it comes to having a baby? Are babies really that bad (or that good!) for your marriage? And how can you know if you and your spouse will be okay after the huge changes that come with a new child?
Today, you will learn about why these generalized ideas about relationships and kids aren’t exactly reliable. You will also learn about how you can prepare to have a baby with your spouse, and how marriage counseling can help.
Babies Can Challenge Your Marriage
To start, I think it’s important to acknowledge that having a baby is a huge adjustment for you and your spouse alike. And that makes sense. You are adding a new person to your family. New people in your family change the dynamic of how you interact, and can challenge your normal methods of problem solving. (Related Article: Relationship Counseling- Marriage After Kids).
Plus, as a new parent, you may find yourself “in the trenches” when it comes to caring for a newborn. Sleep deprivation, discomfort and pain from childbirth recovery, and fluctuating post partum hormones create many unique challenges for you and your partner.
It’s not unrealistic to assume that a new baby will challenge you both individually and as a couple. In fact, studies show that 67% of couples report that they notice a decrease in the quality of their marriages in the first three years after their first child is born. (Source). But what does this information really mean for you as new parents? And what can you do about it?
…But That Doesn’t Mean You Are Doomed to Fail!
Now, those statistics might sound really scary if you are on the fence about when or if you should have kids with your spouse. But it’s important to also realize that just because an experience is common does not mean it has to be the norm.
You and your spouse will experience challenges as new parents… And you can prepare yourselves individually and as a couple to make the experience better. What do the couples who don’t report a decline in their marriage as they transition into parenthood do to improve their experience? Is there a way you can prepare? Let’s talk about what you can do to have a better chance at a smooth transition into parenthood.
When It Comes to New Parenthood, Preparation Makes a Difference
The idea that you need to emotionally and mentally prepare your marriage for parenthood might seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t parenting supposed to come naturally? The answer is yes… and also no. (Related Article: Parenting- Back to Basics). Some parts of being a parent will probably feel natural to you and your partner. However, a lot of parenting tasks and responsibilities are learned through experience. But, don’t panic yet- that is a good thing! That just gives you more opportunities to prepare yourselves for a good experience when you welcome your new baby.
One of the best ways to plan for parenthood is to turn to your partner. Again, I see how that sounds odd. Why would focusing on each other prepare you to be a good parent? Let’s say you and your partner have just had your first child. Congratulations! You patiently waited nine months, went to the doctor’s appointments, and bought all of the newest baby supplies for your new addition. You get home from the hospital. Suddenly your life is turned upside down! You run headlong into sleepless nights and anxiety about your new roles as parents. That setting sounds like a perfect place for misunderstanding, conflict, and confusion, if you aren’t armed with the necessary communication skills to overcome it together.
There are many ways you can prepare your communication for your new baby. One great way to ensure less conflict and frustration during the newborn days is to make a game plan for the day-to-day. Newborns require a lot of small, tedious tasks. And your schedule will change drastically. You can sit down with your spouse and begin to strategize the best way to tackle these new responsibilities. If you set expectations ahead of time, you can avoid frustration and miscommunication later down the line. (Related article: Promoting Partnership in Marriage).
Setting Parenting Expectations
Here are some examples of things you can consider when you make your new parent game plan:
Do you have maternity or paternity leave? How long is your leave?
Will your family or friends be coming over to help with the baby? What expectations and boundaries do you have when it comes to this extra help?
How will you manage sleep deprivation? Is there a way to split responsibilities so you each get a chance to sleep sufficiently?
Are you each familiar with basic childcare tasks? Do you know how to change a diaper? Can you bathe the baby or make a bottle? This is a great time to practice those skills before you are trying to accomplish them with a crying baby!
How will you split your household labor? What do you need to change to accommodate for the extra responsibilities that you will have with your child in the mix?
Making a game plan, even if it is general, can help you and your partner have open communication. You can use this opportunity to set expectations and boundaries, and to get excited about the prospect of your new bundle of joy! (Related article: Marriage Counseling- Resilience). Making the time to prepare your marriage will help you and your spouse prepare to survive- and thrive- this challenging but rewarding time of your lives.
Marriage Counseling is an Invaluable Resource for New Parents
As you prepare for your baby, don’t forget marriage counseling! Couples therapy can be an invaluable resource as you prepare to care for your child. A therapist can help you work through anxieties and concerns about these big life changes. Therapy can also help you learn the communication skills that will make this transition into parenthood easier… and maybe even enjoyable. Imagine that!
Are you ready to get started? Start marriage counseling today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written by Lauren Adkins