Having one child changes your life forever; having two challenges all your capacities to cope and presents a challenge to your happy marriage; but, after having the third baby, there’s a chance that you may end up facing a new set of challenges.
Why it happens is still open to debate in academic circles. But, the parents of three will tell you – it’s a combination of being outnumbered by children, having zero alone time, and directing all your frustration towards your spouse.
This article will scrutinize the phenomenon of the third baby, how it affects the marriage, and how the problems can be avoided or mended.
What children do to marriages
It’s a taboo to admit any sort of negative emotions towards your children. Yet, as a parent, it is totally natural to have those feelings now and then.
It’s unacceptable to our own sense of morality and to those in our social circles to speak of those days when you long for being a childless couple again. Or even a single person. And you do have those days because you’re a human.
Children are a game-changer. Here’s why.
The moment you enter parenthood, losing your freedom to an extent is part of the process. This can be a hard transition, one that can make us all crave alone time.
This is a realization that comes hard even for the least selfish among us. With the first child, you get to experience the amounts of stress and strain that were unthinkable to you before. And things don’t get easier with the second or the third.
When you transition into parenthood, you are highly likely to experience a serious decrease in marital happiness, research shows. There are many reasons for it, including:
chronic sleep deprivation
hormonal changes in new mothers
a conflict between the life roles
the discrepancy between the expectations and the reality, etc.
However, what the studies have revealed is the fact that marriages that were strong prior to a baby remain strong afterward. Having a solid relationship prior to children can be a major tool that helps your marriage stay strong after having a third child.
We will discuss this, and other strategies for maintaining a healthy marriage post-third child in the last section.
How having the third baby can be the game-changer
Interestingly, many parents notice that, although having children in general changes their relationship (unfortunately, for worse, at least temporarily), the third child can, at times, turn out to be one of the greatest risks to their marital happiness.
It seems that the balance tips over to the advantage of children, and most parents find it hard to regain their family harmony afterwards. This is especially the case when the children are all young.
All that applies to new parents and parents of two multiplied by three hundred when the third child comes.
There is now absolutely no alone time, not for each of the parents and not for them as a couple. When there is only one or even two children, one parent can watch over them while the other takes some time off, or they can each focus on one child. When there’s three, a single parent simply cannot maintain control.
Moreover, if one child has difficulties sleeping, or is a fussy eater, or is sick, or afraid of the dark, or any such thing, that is enormous stress for any parent.
If there are three children, it’s possible that you could be having one of these, or another kind of problem, at all times between each of the children. Often all of these all of the time. This makes it pretty difficult at times for the married couple to even remember that their spouses exist, let alone focus on maintaining their romance.
Here’s an interesting video where Emily Norris, a mother of 3 kids, shares the reality behind managing parenthood:
Things you can do to improve your marriage after the third baby
First of all, keep in mind that everything you are going through will pass. You will be more than a parent and a babysitter in a matter of years.
Yes, it might sound like a long time to endure given that you probably feel like balancing on the verge of sanity all the time. But, from the perspective of a lifelong relationship with your spouse, it’s really just a small fragment of time.
After you’ve taken some load off your chest thanks to the realization that this does have an end, you can focus on other important issues in your marriage.
Apart from the objective strain put on you by having three children, as the research shows, marriages tend to crack where the weak spots were prior to having children. Therefore, not all your problems can be attributed to the kids. And, luckily, they can be solved independently on them too.
Work with a therapist on your communication habits
The major issues that you should think about are communication and expectations. Work with a therapist to reveal whether your communication habits might work against you in these stressful times.
Final take away
Discuss your expectations and needs openly and with a lot of empathy.
Follow the above-shared tips and do hire a babysitter and make an effort to reconnect with your spouse romantically. You will soon find your marriage growing from strength to strength despite the parenting challenges thrown at you.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.