Your first major life change came when you found and married the love of your life. It was life-changing. You could hardly fathom how you could love anyone more or that your life could change even more. But then it happens—you’re having a baby.
Talk about a major life change.
The thing about a child is that it comes into the world completely helpless. It needs its parents in order to eat and just live. As it grows, it learns but still depends on you for everything. And it’s not like you can ever take a break from being a parent—it’s literally a full-time job.
Makes you wonder why people become parents in the first place. There just seems to be this urge to have children. Of course, there are hard parts to being a parent, but there are just as many amazing parts. The big thing many don’t consider, however, is just how much it can change your marriage. Perhaps it’s because no matter what the affect it may have, they want to become parents anyway.
There are many studies out there that tout that being parents causes a negative shift in a marriage. According to data from the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, about two-thirds of couples report that the quality of their relationship drops within three years of the birth of a child. Not very encouraging. But what really matters is how becoming a parent affects YOUR marriage. And you won’t know that until it happens.
Of course, any life change can have a big affect in you, for better or for worse. But exactly how does parenting affect your marriage? Here are some ways it could affect you and in turn, your marriage:
1. Parenting Changes You as a Person
The moment you become a parent, you change. Suddenly you’re responsible for this other person who you love more than life itself. Most parents have an inner struggle of giving enough to their child, but also allowing their child to learn what they need to learn. For a time, parents lose confidence in themselves. They may seek advice from books and others to figure out how to be the best parent. In summary, parenting changes you as a person because you are trying to better yourself. And that is definitely a good thing. It can then translate into a person who also tries their best to make their marriage great, too.
2. Parenting Changes the Dynamics in Your Household
First you were a family of two, and now you are a family of three. Just the fact that there is another body in the house makes things different. The fact that it is a part of the both of you makes it even more complicated. There are strong emotions tied to this child, and your parenting will reflect that. You may be tempted to give more time and effort to the relationship with the child rather than your spouse. This can definitely have a negative effect. Many spouses are understanding. They get it. But there is a definite adjustment period now and in the future as the needs of the child changes. Many times, it’s all about the kid, and the relationship between the couple takes a backseat, which for some couples just doesn’t work.
3. Parenting Can Increase Stress
Children are challenging. They don’t like being told what to do, they make messes, they cost money. They need constant love and reassurance. This can definitely increase the stress in your household, which can be a bad thing if not dealt with properly. When you were just a couple with no kids, you could do what you wanted and have some down time; but now as parents you may feel like you never have downtime. The stress can take its toll.
4. Parenting Can Change Your Perspective
Before you had a child, you worried about different things. Your hopes and dreams were different. But this really depends on the person. Maybe you are more hopeful because you have big dreams for your child. Perhaps you look forward to having grandchildren. Suddenly family becomes even more important. Your future looks different, and you get life insurance to make sure your child will be taken care of. Having a child really makes you look at life differently and consider things you maybe hadn’t before, which can be a good thing. It matures you.
5. Parenting Can Help You Become Less Selfish
With just you around, you could do what you wanted. When you married that changed because you then had to consider what your spouse wanted. But still, you had some independence. You weren’t necessarily tied down. You could spend more money on yourself and you were free to come and go as you pleased—you just had more “me” time. But then when your child comes, that changes overnight. Suddenly you have to rearrange your whole schedule, money, FOCUS on this child. As a parent you think almost nothing about yourself and you think everything about what your child needs. How does this affect your marriage? Hopefully, if you’ve become less selfish overall, then you’ll be more attentive to your spouse’s needs, too.