Becoming parents is one of the most emotional experiences a couple can share. During pregnancy, a lot of time is spent taking care of things for the baby, but are you taking care of your marriage?
Studies have shown that a couples’ satisfaction with their marriage takes a nose dive after the first child is born. Thankfully, studies also show that couples who engage in pre-baby relationship planning can avoid the decrease in marital satisfaction. Here are some important tips to get you started.
1. Managing Lifestyle Expectation.
Understanding that your life will be different in every way is one of the best ways to prepare yourself – there will be sleepless nights, times of frustrations, and other times you wish you could just get up and go without having an added responsibility. Keep it in perspective. This is just a stage – it will pass. Instead of trying to get your old life back, embrace the chaos and absolute wonder of parenthood wholeheartedly. Increase your social support network that can help you as a new parent. Learn who you can look to for help, understanding and sound advice.
2. Managing Financial Expectation.
Babies come with big expenses. Between the cost of diapers, formula, child-care related cost and other things like doctor’s visits and the unexpected, it can easily add up to a few hundred each month. Plan and manage a family budget that includes baby needs.
3. Managing Childrearing Expectation.
Learn about child development so you can approach parenting your child with positive and realistic expectations. Try to stay focused on the big picture and adopt a ‘good enough is good enough’ perspective. Pursuing perfection can propel you into a cycle of “it’s never enough,” which just eats away at your marital happiness. Realise that there’s no way to be a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a great one.
4. Managing Household Chores Expectation.
With a baby in the house, the workload explodes. Make a list of everything that must be done, from washing the dishes to earning a living. It’s the work that’s the enemy, not each other.
5. Managing Couple Relationship Expectation.
For the husband – Be a partner, not a helper. Engage fully on the domestic and parenting fronts. Show appreciation and validation. Tell her “You’re a fantastic mom; I don’t know how you do it.”
For the wife – Your husband needs sex. That is how he connects emotionally with you. Show appreciation and let him hear you say, “Thanks for working so hard, babe” and “You’re a great dad.”
For each other – Realise you are not alone.
The early years of parenting are challenging for most couples. The realisation that these issues are universal, rather than personal, can change how you deal with them. Most importantly, make time for each other.
TOUCH Family Services, an affiliate of TOUCH Community Services, conducts regular family life education talks, workshops and courses to enrich and equip individuals in the area of interpersonal relationships, parenting skills, as well as marriage preparation and enrichment.