Happy Parents, Happy Kids: Tips to Strengthen Your Marriage
Learn why treating your partner like a child has damaging effects to your relationship and actually shows a lack of acceptance and respect. Bible pattern for the home & marriage: how family members should treat one another. What are the duties of the husband, wife, parents, and children?. Studies show marital relationships decline after having children. predictor of overall life satisfaction is one's satisfaction with their spouse.
So far, the results have been clear: After having a child, couples' marital satisfaction declines, negatively affecting kids emotionally and academically.
Staying Lovers While Raising Kids
But this downward slide is not inevitable. Some couples' marriages remain strong and happy, as do their children. What are these couples doing right? And why do so many relationships seem to suffer after children?
In an interview, the Cowans -- married for 45 years, with three grown children and seven grandchildren -- shared what they believe are the ingredients to a happy family. You say most couples become less satisfied with their marriages after having kids. How unhappy are they?
Family and Home Relationships: Husbands, Wives, Parents, Children
Are certain childrearing stages harder on relationships? Ninety-two percent of those in our first study described a gradual increase in conflict after having their baby. By the time their babies were 18 months old, almost one of four couples indicated that their marriage was in distress.
One stage is not harder on relationships than another. There is a cumulative erosion of satisfaction over time. Parents of school-age children experience less depression and personal stress than they did when their kids were babies, but marital satisfaction continues its steady decline for most couples.
When Relationship Partners Act Like Parents or Children Towards One Another
Yet some parents remain happily married. What is their secret? The key to marital satisfaction lies in how couples manage the decision-making process. It's not whether the couples have problems, because every couple does. But when babies come along, there are a lot more issues and differences of opinion to negotiate, and a couple's ability to do so with cooperation and respect can make or break the marriage.
It's also important for partners to hear each other's outbursts without immediately firing back or engaging in blame. And the one who's said or done something thoughtless needs to make amends later. Saying, "I made that comment out of anger.
I really didn't mean it," goes a long way toward repairing a relationship. You also put some expectant couples in groups with trained leaders and found years later that their satisfaction did not decline. Many people take Lamaze classes, learning how to breathe during childbirth, but few give much thought to what the next 20 years are going to be like.
Couples in our first study joined the groups when the wives were seven months pregnant and met weekly until the babies were 3 months old. The group helped them start thinking concretely about what life with the baby would be like and enabled them to talk about their ideas, worries, and confusion before and after the birth.
Six years later, the couples who remained married and had been in these groups were far more satisfied with their relationships. So when couples fight, what is it that they're usually fighting about? New parents say it's the division of laborthe who-does-what in the family.
- Happy Parents, Happy Kids
- Staying Lovers While Raising Kids
When children become school-age, the issues of money and spending time together become more important. Don't couples' sex lives play a big role in their marital satisfaction? Sex is a reflection of how the rest of the relationship is going. If you feel hurt or misunderstood, or you and your husband are struggling over but not resolving issues, that affects how attracted, nurturing, and ready to have sex you'll be.
The frequency of lovemaking declines during the early months of parenthood when mothers especially are exhausted, but we find that most couples' sex lives rebound within two years. During that time, though, some partners may not initiate even snuggling or touching for fear that it will give the message that they're ready to have sex when they aren't.
We advise couples to be perfectly clear: Many new mothers talk about feeling unattractive postpartum.
Family, Home, Marriage Relations & the Bible: Husband, Wife, Parents
But while a few men find it hard to see their wives as sexual after having children, most husbands are supportive about their wives' appearance. She clearly didn't realize how much times had changed. After all, when I was Aidan's age, family life wasn't focused on the kids. We used to play outside by ourselves all day and go to bed early.
My parents would routinely trot off to cocktail parties, and my husband's parents took weeklong, child-free golf vacations. The more I thought about it, though, I realized I couldn't remember the last time Dan and I had gone out alone on a Saturday night never mind escaping the domestic doldrums for a whole weekbecause Aidan would scream every time a babysitter arrived.
Dan and I weren't unhappy, but parenthood had more or less reduced us to a business partnership, complete with tax forms. We both worked, and we were like runners in a relay race, passing Aidan between us like a baton. We'd comforted ourselves with the fact that we were doing everything in our power to make our son's life educational and fun. We figured we had to: Aidan was a troubled sleeper and prone to acting out.
We worried that if we didn't devote what little free time we had to him, he'd be even more difficult. But I think my mom was right—we were shortchanging our marriage, and even encouraging Aidan's attention-getting misbehavior. We throw ourselves into parenting or work to avoid dealing with issues that cause conflict.
After all, when you put your marriage on the back burner, your kids can sense the lack of closeness between you. Think of your relationship as the emotional environment in which your kids live. Just as you want them to breathe clean air and drink pure water, you want them to grow up in a loving atmosphere. Consider the following ways to make your marriage more of a priority. Have a Weekday Update You always find time to listen to your best friend when she needs to vent.
But if your husband seems irritable when he comes home, you might just hand him the baby and rush out the door to do errands. In these days of tag-team parenting, those lazy hours spent talking about everything can feel like a distant memory. To stay close, Code suggests that you each share a highlight of your day like when your son winked at you across the room and a low point that parking ticket. Discussing your worst moments may seem like a downer when you have limited time together, but when you understand what the other person is going through, you'll be more of a team.
Don't Coast No matter how great your marriage was before you had kids, you can't just leave it on autopilot now. But I didn't want us to fight, so I stayed silent and got even madder. In fact, she'll be more likely to learn patience and resilience if you ask her to wait. Sunday breakfast is sacred in our family because we can all sit down together.
Dan and I like to read the paper and chat after we finish eating, but Aidan would constantly interrupt us.
So we put a clock with a timer in the family room and told him he had to play on his own for at least a half hour after breakfast. If he did, his reward was that we'd do something special as a family later in the day. After a few weeks, he started looking forward to making plans for his "Sunday-morning-paper time.