For most couples, becoming parents is a normal part of being married. They have committed to each other in a wedding ceremony and begin their life together as marriage partners. The natural progression of things is to begin a family. The couple believes that they have discussed having children and both are on the same page with it.
There are some fears about parenting but they are ready to take that step. They become very excited about the future and what having children will mean to them. Then the day arrives and the first child is born. What a glorious day! They have been anticipating this for a long time! The stay in the hospital is short and now it is time to take baby home and really begin being a family.
But being a family isn’t always as easy as it sounds!
Baby is very demanding and cries a lot and is awake when you want to sleep! The husband/father can’t figure out why his wife is so tired and doesn’t want to do the things she used to do. Every time he asks her to go somewhere or spend time with him, the little person who has invaded the house needs something!
The couple begins to drift apart, not intentionally, but because of the demands on time, especially on the wife’s/mother’s time. It seems the couple has no time to themselves anymore. Everyone is too tired at the end of the day to think of trying to spend any quality time together.
There is the thought that “we used to spend time going out together or watching TV together or just talking to each other. We don’t do any of that anymore.” Everything we do revolves around the baby or, as we add to the family, all the kids! Mom runs this one to soccer practice and dad runs this one to hockey or ballet. Plus, we have to make sure that the homework gets done and each child is progressing in school.
Each child added to the family takes more and more time away from the couple.
The energy involved in taking care of everyone is intense. There is no time for self-care or couple care. Often the husband/father gets jealous of the children because he doesn’t have his wife anymore. He feels left out.
This leads to conflict between the couple. Most of the time, the husband is at work all day and the wife is managing the household and possibly working outside the home as well. She is exhausted and he can’t figure out why! After all, he has worked all day and all she’s done is take care of the kids. Didn’t she pressure him to have these kids in the first place! He loves the kids, but really, it shouldn’t be that hard!
The couple often has conflict related to parenting styles.
She wants him to step up and be a part of what goes on with the kids and discipline them but, frequently doesn’t like how he does it. She may step in and take over when he is attempting to discipline or work with the kids. He becomes resentful and feels she doesn’t think he can do the job as well as she can. They enter into conflict over how they parent. They may even have that conflict in front of the kids. Now the kids know how to get what they want by playing one against the other.
Parenting also creates some financial burdens that the couple may not have considered early on. It takes more income to provide for a family than it does to provide for just the couple.
Children need food, shelter, clothing, toys, education, etc. Parents usually want their children to participate in some kind of sport or extra activity like dance, gymnastics, etc. All of these extra- curricular activities cost money. Parents often sacrifice much so that their children can do these things. They are also concerned with the future and that means, for many, providing money for college. The list can go on and on.
It is important for couples to discuss and continue to discuss how they will manage all of the issues that come up related to having children and how that will affect their marriage relationship.
- Make sure that neither of you becomes defensive in your discussion of the children.
- Couples have to become intentional about making time for each other in the midst of raising their children. If the only way to make it happen is to write it on the calendar, then that is exactly what they have to do.
- Make appointments to spend time together and treat those appointments as if they are the most important appointments you have. These appointments must not be moved or canceled because something else comes up!
- Taking care of the couple is the most important part of the marriage. If mom and dad are secure in their relationship, the children will feel secure as well. They will see how important the marriage is to their parents and feel the closeness that is part of that relationship.
Children are a true blessing to our lives. They can and do bring us great pleasure and joy. If we maintain open communication with one another and work at building the marriage relationship along with parenting, we will enjoy not only a successful family but a successful marriage relationship. It is possible to have both a great marriage and a great family! Both take a great deal of work and effort, but it is truly worth it.
Parenting is rarely easy, but always worth the effort as you see your children grow. You don’t have to struggle alone, we can help. If you’re ready, take the next step now and call 630-333-3202 for a free 15-20 minute phone/Skype consultation. We will tell you about how our process works and you will come away from that call with the information you need to make a decision about how we can best work together.