Unhappy marriage after baby, have you ever heard about that? When I first heard about this, I’m quite shocked. I know raising a baby is not an easy task, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. And the result shown is based on research.
According to one study, normal persons who just had their first baby might be suffering unhappiness that is comparable to unemployment, divorce, or death of a partner.
And if you refer to the graph below, it is even worse.
Credit The Washington Post
This study has been published in the journal Demography, by Researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskylä. In the beginning, they follow 2,016 Germans who were childless until at least two years after the birth of their first child.
Then all the respondents were asked to rate their happiness 0-10 (0 is completely dissatisfied, 10 is completely satisfied). The question is “How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?” and the result is as per you can see above.
The researches found out that having a child reduced happiness by an average of 1.4 points in the following year, which is considered very severe. And only 30% of the respondent remained in the same state or become better in terms of happiness.
The researcher also stated, there are three main categories that affecting their decision to have another baby. And the most significant category was about “the continuous and intense nature of childrearing.” In other words, parents are exhausted due to trouble breastfeeding, depression, sleep deprivation, domestic isolation, and relationship breakdown.
Why Do Couples Fight After Having A Baby?
A newborn baby could be a symbol of happily married lives. But they also can cause strain and become one of the reasons why married couples breakout. Obviously, it’s not a baby fault, as a couple and parent, we are the one who needs to prepare ourselves.
Without having proper planning, having a baby might ruin your relationship. Another study conducted over the past 13 years by The Gottman Institute has shown that 40-70% of couples experience “stress, profound conflict, and drops in marital satisfaction” after the first few months having a child.
They surveyed 452 separated parent and come up with the main factor why did they break up. Most of the reason is because of pressure from parenthood, stressful condition, and insufficient communication. Which are almost the same reasons as the first study that I shared above.
Based on both research, we should realize that it is essential to pay more attention to this topic. Raising children is not an easy task no matter who you are. So it might be worth to prepare yourselves physically and mentally. At least you will be able to find ways to manage things differently.
To answer the question of “why couples fight after having a baby,” here are the most common problems:
1# Getting less sleep than usual
When you just had a baby, you will be getting less sleep for the first 6-8 weeks on average, or maybe more. It would be worse if one or both of you need to wake up early to go to work. And without you aware, you might be resenting your partner for getting more sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can make you much more susceptible to negative feelings. This fact has been backed by science. Lack of sleep weakens the functioning from part of your brain that is responsible for regulating your emotions. That is why you will be in a bad mood and feeling negative.
2# Who does more work
This kind of fight happens almost all the time. It might start from your bedroom, you will be arguing over whose turn it is to go to check the baby in the middle of the night. And if you combine it with my point no.1 above, don’t be surprised if you had the most unreasonable fights over sleep.
And then it will continue with who changed more diapers today? Who had to deal with more poop? Who needs to spend all weekend parenting and so on. When both of you feeling exhausted all the time, your temper can easily burst.
3# Lack of quality time
When you put all your time and energy caring for a baby, there’s almost nothing left for each other. The time that was once set for a short vacation, romantic dinner and exciting adventure is now allocated to care for your little one. Your child has become your highest priority, not your partner.
When you have less quality time with your partner, your intimacy level also will drop. And when there is no or little intimacy in a relationship, fights are more likely going to happen.
4# Financially changes
Having a baby is no joke, it is basically an expensive business. Even before the baby born, you’ve already spent a lot of money. So many things that need to be prepared. You need to buy diapers, baby clothes, breast pump and more. And there is also a potential chance of loss of household income if one of you decides to stop working.
In addition, newborns babies require extra attention and constant care which is come with a hefty price tag. Maybe you need to spend extra a few hundred dollars a week from your usual expenses. This financial strain can often cause stress, anger and ultimately a break-up.
5# Lack of sex
Sex is one of the top reasons why the married couple has an unhappy marriage after having a baby. There are many factors in the bedroom that contribute to poor sex life. Such as lack of sleep, lack of quality time and lack of attention.
In fact, with all the new duties you have to take care of the baby, sex can easily slip off from your agenda. Because you will be exhausted from duty and just thinking about sleep when you had a chance. Some women even feel less confident to have sex because they feel less attractive due to post-baby weight and fear of soreness.
So, some partners might find it difficult to adapt to this change and emotionally disturbed.
How Do You Keep Your Marriage Alive After Having A Baby
Not having kids at all is never a solution. Well, it is true that the first two years after your child was born will be though, but you can get through it together with your partner if you have patience and commitment.
In a healthy relationship, when they are having the baby, the couple will work together to complete the housework, do the dishes, take turns parenting, comforting their partner and etc. They are aware of their responsibilities and always had each other back.
Marriage and kids are not easy, it’s come with big responsibility and patience, but the rewards are many. Don’t focus all your energy on the challenges, instead enjoys parenting as a couple. Make a conscious effort to appreciate a good time with your families, it is not easy but I promise you it will be worth it.
So here are a few tips that I compiled from relationships and parenting experts that you can follow to keep your marriage alive even after having a baby.
1# Make your own household task list
The first few months after having a baby is very challenging. If you are not getting enough support from your partner, you will wear yourself out. Start with not getting enough sleep, then you will have less energy, less patience and increase the chance of an argument.
To prevent that from happening, you can start making a list of all your household tasks. Don’t forget to include a parenting task to your list. Then have a proper discussion with your partner. Tell your partner that you need a hand in the household task and parenting.
Most of the experts believe making the list provides a way for parents to work together through all of the potential pain points. And the more specific you get with your list, the better result you will get. So, be specific!
2# Manage your financial changes
Making a baby budget can be very helpful. Set some time to properly discuss with your partner on how to allocate your spending. Create a separate list of needs and wants, so that you will know which item that you need to prioritize.
Do not burden your partner by asking something that is out from his league. As an example, instead of buying a new expensive stroller, you can just buy a second-hand stroller, the same quality but with less price.
As long as you can tolerate with each other, it should be no problem to manage your financial changes. In fact, managing money collaboratively can be a powerful way to build trust and commitment with your partner.
3# Spend quality time together
Having a new baby means less time for you and your partner. So, it is important for you to plan something that you both can have fun together. Spending quality time together is one of the ways to maintain a healthy relationship.
One of the common ideas is “date night.” This is where you go out and do something together. You can go watch late-night movies, have a romantic dinner, and watching your favorite games together. This activity might seem simple, but it is a positive way to build some variety back into your baby routine schedule.
Planning plays an important role here because it’s no longer the two of you, right now you are having a cute little baby that can ruin your plan 😜. So mark your calendar, free your schedule, and maybe you need to ask your relative to look over your baby for one night.
4# Redefine your sex life
It is understandable if your sex life taking some time off during the first few months after birth. But don’t keep sex off for too long, because sex is an important part of the relationship. It can build up a connection, emotional intimacy, and proof that you love each other.
If you still don’t feel ready, you do not have to start with sexual intercourse. You can start practice sensuality in your daily life through simple gestures like kisses and hugs. Or you can try to keep the physical side of things going, massages and intimate touching is a great example.
And if you ready to all out. You might need to check my other article, how to spice things up in the bedroom. You will get more ideas about how to enjoys sex with your partner without getting bored.
5# Communicate with your partner
Being a new parent can be very challenging. When you are new, both of you are likely to make mistakes, argue and create distance with each other. This is where communication becomes key to help you out from the misery.
You may struggle with parenting work, lack of sleep, less quality time and etc. All these things will make you emotionally unstable. That why proper communication is essential in your situation. When you don’t communicate enough with your partner, you can’t express your feeling to solve the problem.
You need to share your feeling with your partner, talk about how you’re feeling, whether you lonely, frustrated, stress or even horny! If you need help, discuss it with your partner. Get back to my point number #1.
Communicate effectively in a relationship can create a positive social interaction. Meanwhile, a lack of communication will lead to a negative relationship. Let me give you an example…
When you are asking help from your partner, try not to attack him with your word.
“You never help me around with the children.”
“You make me do all the chores and you did nothing.”
Words play a very important role in communication. When you use the words “You”, it rather seems like you are attacking him, or blame him. So the way he will response might be defensive.
So, please consider using the word “I” rather than “You”. As an example:
“I would love you to help me around with the children,”
“I am quite tired doing all the chores, do you mind to give me a hand?”
These examples actually tackle the same issue, but in a softer way. When you start the conversation with the word “I”, you are not criticizing your partner, you simply just sharing your own emotion and reaction.
With proper communication, your partner will be less defensive and open to discussion.
Final Option: Getting Help From Professional Third Party
If you still consider divorce during baby’s infancy, I highly recommend you to seek outside support. I know even the most well-prepared new parents can’t predict everything in the dramatic changes in demands, lifestyles, and pressure that come along with the newborn baby’s.
When a couple no longer can handle their relationship, outside advice and resource can be tremendously beneficial. It could be a marriage therapist, support group, online support, pastor, or anything that can help you avoid the devastation of divorce.
That all from me, if you had any other suggestion please leave a comment below. Have a nice day!