People probably warned you about how hard marriage can be. And, when your first little one came along, there’s a good chance people warned you about that too. But, what a lot of people don’t tell you about is how hard it is to balance parenting & marriage. There are some common problems that marriages face as children enter the picture, and if you want to be still standing strong when your children are grown and leave home, there are some tips that can help you along the way.
Common Problems With Balancing Parenting & Marriage
There are plenty of areas where problems arise when trying to balance parenting and marriage. When a little one enters the picture, typically, both spouses are working on less sleep and busier schedules. There is a big adjustment period of having to find a new normal. Expenses increase, time seems to decrease, and everything starts to revolve around the kids. Here are some other common issues that can lead to problems within your relationship when parenting enters the picture.
Putting Your Spouse on the Back Burner
When you first met your spouse, they probably held all your attention. You wanted to spend all your time with them and couldn’t wait to see them. But when the first child comes along, this can change for many couples. Instead of your spouse being the most important person in your life, they are removed from the pedestal for the child. This can cause a lot of disturbance within a marriage.
Your child needs your care and attention, but when you do it at the total expense of your spouse, it opens the door for a few potential problems:
Having Different Parenting Philosophies
There are a lot of things that come with parenting that you just can’t be prepared to be still. As new situations arise, you and your spouse might have different ideas on how to handle them. And, if you both feel strongly about your idea on how to handle the situation, this can lead to disagreements and problems within your marriage. These are difficult things to overcome and compromise on because it often involves your values and what’s right or wrong in a situation.
Not Being Married
This article might be about “marriage and parenting,” but there are more and more couples that are cohabitating and having children that are looking for advice as well. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 40% of babies are being born to unwed parents.
This might not seem like a bad thing if you think that cohabitating couples live together, so the child has both parents in the home, but the statistics tell a different story. The Marriage Foundation conducted research that found that married parents are 57% less likely to split up. So, statistically speaking, your chance of successfully balancing your relationship with your partner and parenting responsibilities will increase if you take the step of getting married.
Tips on Balancing Parenting & Marriage
Now that we addressed some of the common issues that arise within a marriage when kids come along, here are some tips on balancing the two better.
Keep Your Spouse First
Don’t forget that without your spouse, those sweet little kiddos wouldn’t exist. And, if you are married to someone other than the other birth parent, remember that you are setting an example for your child through your marriage. They are watching how you behave in your marriage and are likely to act the same way on their own.
If you have a strong marriage, which involves prioritizing your spouse, your kids are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, experience mental health challenges, and quit school, according to the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
This doesn’t mean that you need to neglect your children. But it does mean that you don’t neglect your spouse either. If your spouse is talking and your child tries to interrupt, politely tell them that they need to wait their turn. Don’t drop everything you’re doing for your spouse or with your spouse every time your kids call your name. Show them that your spouse is a priority to you and someone that you love as well.
Enforce A Bedtime For The Kids
It’s hard to find time alone with your spouse when you have kids. They always seem to be around, and even if they’re in the other room, as soon as you try to sneak a moment with your spouse, they show up. This is why it’s helpful to enforce a bedtime for all kids earlier than you and your spouse will go to sleep. This provides you with precious time alone to have adult conversations and enjoy each other’s company.
If your children are older, you might not be able to force them to go to sleep before you do, but you can at least require that they are in their room and doing a quiet activity.
Have A Regular Date Night
The advice to have a regular “date night” when you’re married, and kids come along is not new advice by any means. However, it’s very effective advice that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the Marriage Foundation’s research mentioned above, they also found that married couples with children that dated each other each month were “significantly less likely to split up.”
Make Decisions Together
Making parenting decisions together will help to keep you and your spouse on the same page. But you must remember to back up those decisions when your spouse isn’t around. If you say one thing when your spouse is around and something opposite when it’s just you and the kids, you’re undermining your spouse and hurting your marriage.
Remember that these decisions and conversations aren’t always easy because you might have different opinions. But you must work through difficult conversations and remain a united force.
Don’t Fill Up Your Schedule.
Once your kids start to get a little older, it’s easy to feel like you’re running nonstop. Your kids might be in sports, dance, or have extracurricular clubs after school. And they want to have friends over or go to a friend’s house. If you aren’t careful with your schedule, you could end up driving them all around town every night.
Take time to talk with your spouse about the family schedule. Set aside time when you and your spouse can be alone (remember, date night from above). But you also want to set aside time when your family can be together without other people around. Remember, it’s OK to say “no” to your child when they want to sign up for something or go somewhere, and you think it’s going to be too much for your calendar.
Remember You And Your Partner Are A-Team
Your spouse is not your enemy, even if you have different opinions on things when it comes to the kids. Keep in mind that you’re on the same team and look for ways to work together. And, whatever you do, don’t allow your children to separate the two of you on an issue and cause division. A house divided will not stand.
Don’t Expect Perfection.
Things aren’t always going to go just right. That’s why you must know that perfection is not realistic. Finding the right balance between protecting your marriage and raising your children isn’t always going to be easy or possible. You and your spouse will make errors from time to time. But the important thing is that you continue to work together. Make sure to practice forgiveness and keep in mind that raising children is to help them become healthy grown adults. When this happens, they will move out of the house, and it will be you and your spouse again. Make this a time that the two of you can look forward to together by protecting your marriage now.
What to Do When It Feels Like Too Much
Sometimes the balancing act feels like too much. The daily stress might be getting to you and your spouse. If you find yourself in this position, individual or couple counseling can be helpful. A licensed therapist can help you get your priorities back in line, learn strategies to cope with the stress of balancing life, and help you and your partner stay connected through it all.
If you’re interested in online counseling options, check out ReGain to find the right therapist for you.
Remember, marriage and children are a blessing and something to be grateful for. The balancing act of keeping it all together isn’t always helpful, but there is help out there for you if you need it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you balance parenting and marriage?
It can sometimes be difficult to balance parenting and marriage. Raising kids comes with a lot of responsibilities. When a new baby comes, your marriage can sometimes take a backseat. It’s important to keep a balance to make your marriage work and set a good example for the child. This is often easier said than done, but you don’t need to choose one or the other; it’s possible to have both. Some ways to balance parenting and marriage are to keep a consistent routine for the child. This will create stability for the baby and allow you to set aside some time for you as a couple. Schedule a regular date night for just the two of you. Oftentimes new parents get lost in parenthood and forget how to be a couple. By setting time for just the two of you, you can recharge and have a positive parenting experience. Try to greet each other with affection every time you come or go and hold hands regularly. Don’t always let the child come between you two. If you’re watching a movie as a family, sit next to your spouse and cuddle up. A healthy balance in parenting and marriage makes for a happier, stronger family unit and shows the child what a healthy, loving marriage is supposed to be like. If you’re experiencing difficulties balancing parenthood and marriage, a relationship therapist can help guide you and offer support to get your family back on track.
How does parenthood affect marriage?
Parenting can sometimes take a toll on a marriage. It’s no longer just about you as a couple. You may have once felt you had a great marriage, and then you throw yourselves into parenting. When the household duties increase, it tends to cause more bickering in couples. Sometimes your parenting styles clash, and you can’t agree on ways to raise your child, which ultimately leads to more arguing. Time as a couple becomes much less, making your relationship less intimate, leading to less sex. Lack of sex and intimacy in a marriage can sometimes negatively impact and be a real marriage killer. You no longer feel like a couple, but only co-parents. Children are expensive, and money sometimes will become an issue that can affect the marriage. When family duties are overwhelming, it can feel as though you no longer have time to yourself anymore, and that can cause resentment towards your partner. Studies have shown that marital satisfaction declined for both partners after a new child arrives. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Studies also showed that marriages with a strong foundation of friendship and were consistently supportive and loving had increased marital satisfaction after marriage. It’s important to keep the marriage strong and loving to foster a strong family and be the best parents you can be. If parenthood is affecting your marriage, speak to a trusted relationship therapist for support. They can help.
How do I keep my marriage strong during parenthood?
Parenting is often hard on a marriage, but there are ways to keep your marriage strong. Set boundaries from the beginning and have regular talks about checking in with each other so you can express your needs, keep your values in check, and be on the same page. Discuss household chores and parenting duties to limit resentment or over-exhaustion. Expressing gratitude to your partner can be an easy, simple way to make your partner feel seen and appreciated. New parents can become so focused on the child they neglect their partner. Regularly expressing gratitude also sets an example for your child of what a loving, supportive relationship is supposed to be like. Make alone time for you as a couple to keep the romance alive. Many new parents become co-parents and lose affection for one another. Remember you are best friends and a team. Speak respectfully and listen to each other so you can understand each other’s needs and expectations. Let your partner know you appreciate them and their feelings are valid. It’s crucial to prioritize your marriage. Your life together doesn’t need to revolve around the child. If your relationship is strong, everything else will work and fall into place. If you feel your marriage has taken a toll due to parenthood, a marriage therapist can help. Talk to a trusted professional today.
How do you rekindle romance after children?
Raising kids is very challenging. Whether you have young kids or your kids are grown, children can take a toll on intimacy in a relationship. After children, it’s important to try to rekindle the romance and prioritize your marriage to keep the marriage secure. A loving, supportive partnership will create a strong and happy family dynamic. First and foremost, start with yourself. To care for your partner, care for yourself first. Take some time for self-care. Focus on intimacy with your partner. This doesn’t necessarily mean having sex. If you are not ready, do not feel pressured. But showing loving, nurturing touch and affection to your partner regularly will increase intimacy and desire again. Make time just for your partner and have a date night so you can feel like a couple again. Be sensitive to each other’s needs and supportive when they need it. Let them know you appreciate them as a partner and a spouse. After children, it is normal to feel growing pains in your relationship. Give it time, and do not get upset if things are completely the same as before.
Do couples fight more after a baby?
Many couples believe their marriage is strong until a new baby comes along. A new baby can cause a lot of new challenges in an otherwise stable marriage. When a new baby arrives, your life will change drastically, and there are many more things to fight about now. A lack of sleep and an excess in household duties will definitely contribute to more arguments. A difference in parenting styles, expenses, a lack of intimacy, and a lack of alone time can all be new reasons to fight. As a couple, it’s important to be a team, listening to each other, and communicate your needs regularly. Communication and awareness are key. If parenthood has made you and your partner fight more, there are ways to get you on a better path to a great marriage. Talk to a relationship therapist for support.