Is the arrival of a New Baby Hurting Your Marriage?

family therapy

Can your relationship or marriage withstand the challenges of taking care for a newborn baby? 67% of couples reported that their marital satisfaction took a nosedive after the arrival of their baby. For many married couples, their first child often arrived within the first five years of marriage. And this period in any relationship has been shown to hold the highest risk for divorce. How does marital or couple dissatisfaction happen after the birth of your child? Is it the sleepless nights, the smelly poppy diapers or the endless feedings?

Some research shows that marital conflict increases after baby arrives. Add to this, the lack of sex, reduced adult conversation, and exhaustion and it’s no wonder why emotional distance occurs between Mommy and Daddy. How does one little baby cause so much conflict and chaos between two grown adults? Well maybe it’s not so simple or fair to blame the arrival of a new baby for all this marital distress.

Many couples have a child even when things in their marriage are not going quite well. Sometimes couples believe having a child will improve their marriage. Adding additional stress, like a new baby only reinforces the problems or issues in your marriage.  If you didn’t know how to resolve conflicts before your new baby arrived, sleep deprivation and a crying baby are not going to help either one of you.

Improving Your Communication skills as a Couple

Couples who work on their communication skills and learn how to approach difficult conversations in a gentle non-accusatory manner are better able to manage conflict and can resolve disagreements without alienating each other.  One of the keys to resolve conflicts is to use “I” statements. Marriage or couples therapists in Ottawa often suggest couples try saying things like “I appreciate it when…” or “”I’m upset when…” types of statements. These types of statements are non-blaming and help you to bring up problems or issues without criticizing or blaming your partner. When you don’t feel criticized you may be more receptive to hearing your partner’s concerns.

Many couples also report they no longer spent time together after the arrival of their children. It’s an understandable challenge to find times for yourselves as a couple once children arrive. First there is the “first time parent” fear of leaving your baby with anyone else, then add to this “ but I’m breast feeding and baby refuses to take a bottle”, then there’s the “I’m too tired, can’t we just stay in”. There are a lot of obstacles finding “us time” for new and seasoned parents. But research does show couples who do manage to find meaningful together do better emotionally and are more satisfied with their marriage.

But it’s not just “date nights” without the kids that help improve martial satisfaction and make a couple feel closer to one another. Happier couples find receiving and doing small meaningful daily acts of kindness fro each other go a long way in having a positive impact on the relationship. Small meaningful daily acts of kindness can be the “Hey I love you” text messages or phone calls during the day, a big hug or gentle caress, to “I see your tired, I’ll take the kids so you can get some “you time”. Couples who are able to keep well connected after the arrival of a new baby often shared daily activities such as eating meals together, playing together with their child or cooking dinner together.

And if even these small changes don’t work at improving your communication and happiness after the arrival of your baby there is always talking with a marriage therapist or counsellor in Ottawa. A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showed that expectant couples and new parents who participated in a 24 weekly group counselling meetings experienced a much smaller decline in marital satisfaction over five years when compared with parents who didn’t have any marriage counselling. While the arrival of your baby is an exciting bundle of joy it’s really up to you the parents to figure out how to keep the happiness and joy in your relationship.