Children and Marriage: And Baby Makes Three

by John E. Turner, LMFT and Sally Connolly, LMFT
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And baby does make three!  and sometimes 4 or 5. Introducing children into a marriage, moving from a couple of two to a family of three brings on many challenges.  Chief among them are lessened opportunities for intimacy or individual pursuits, lack of sleep, financial stress and more housework.  
Young couples, who generally are very excited to expand their family, may also feel overwhelmed, irritable or depressed because of the many changes brought about by a new family member. Add this to a time when many are building careers that require a lot of time, attention and stress and it is easy to see how couples can grow apart because of the lack of nurturing for the marriage or a struggle to find ways to negotiate the typical and expected differences that arise during this time in a couple‘s life.
Children may be very much wanted and loved and yet also bring a great deal of stress to a marriage.

This is the beginning of one of the highest times for divorces, as couples focus more on children and career and less on their relationship.

Plan for the changes that children bring to marriage
As spouses enter this time, it is good to establish plans for regular communication and problem-solving. If stuck places arise, it might also be good to get a consultation with an objective person … financial adviser, parenting coach or marriage counselor, to help negotiate the differences.

Children and Marriage require couples to nurture each other and the relationship
Find ways to nurture each other and the relationship through regular dates each week, checking in about what is going on in each other’s life while apart and finding opportunities for play as a family, as a couple and some time for each parent. Hard to do while balancing children and careers and yet, these must also become priorities. Focus on the good in each other and in your relationship more than what is missing.

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