Esther Perel, a renowned marriage counselor, says it’s ironic how the erotic creates babies, and babies threaten the romance that yielded them.
Every relationship goes through a journey of passion and loss of passion –the ups and downs regardless whether this marriage yielded children or not. One can argue then that kids have nothing to do with it. From a systems theory perspective, every child changes the dynamic of the whole system (family). Every couple that has children say their life has changed one way or another; the change is not necessarily good or bad, but there is a change. Research by Gottman and Gottman shows that it is common for couples that are adjusting to parenthood to exhibit “a dynamic in which the wife persistently seeks help and attention from her retreating husband”.
Here are six ways you can manage your marriage after having kids:
- Have realistic expectations
Know what you are up for once the wife is pregnant. Set reasonable expectations for when the child is born. This does not mean that your life is going to turn upside down, but more that you will have to make certain sacrifices –at least temporarily. Sit with your partner and discuss how you see your life changing after the baby is born. Agree on the changes that will take place. Express your emotional and sexual needs. You can still do that after the baby is born, and even as your kids are growing up.
- Don’t forget that you were a husband/wife before becoming a father/mother
Because kids are born so dependent on their mothers, the wife is heavily invested in catering to her newborn’s needs, and tends to drop at least some of her responsibilities as a wife. If a child is overly demanding, or a mother is overly protective, this phase can drag on for a long time, and the wife forgets that she is a wife, replacing her role of wife with that of mother. Some husbands are also turned-off by their wives, and when their fatherhood instinct kicks in it can override their husband role. Children have a strong role in changing the primary dynamic of any relationship between a couple from husband and wife to father and mother; however, we tell the wives to reconnect with the woman inside the mother, and the husbands to reconnect with the man inside the father.
- Make sure you stay happy
If you care about your child’s psychological wellbeing, staying happy is obligatory. Children want to see their parents happy. Make sure you give yourself attention, and do what makes you happy from time to time. Focusing on your children is the actual problem; you fall into a child-centered marriage. Your real problems are disguised; you blame it on the children and you end up frustrated. “The best thing you can do for your child is to take good care of your marriage,” says John and Julie Gottman.
- Set boundaries for your children
Teach your children that there is a mommy-daddy time that they need to respect, and not interrupt. You can only teach this concept if there is a mommy-child time, a daddy-child time, a family time, and a sibling’s time.
- Share the parenting and involve your kids
Wives, encourage your husband to take care of your kids, and don’t make them feel incompetent, and husbands, remember to give your wives your attention so that they don’t feel isolated. Don’t be afraid to involve your kids in important family decisions, you will be surprised by what kids can add. Don’t be afraid to go on trips with your kids because you are over protective. The more you expose them, the faster and more flexibly they will adapt to their world outside mommy’s womb.
- Plan for sex
Sex may not happen as spontaneously as before having kids, but remember that what led to sex was a certain mood. Plan for this mood away from the kids, and the rest will come naturally.