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Childproofing your Marriage

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 10 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Childproofing Your Marriage

All your life you dreamt of having a fab job, a fab marriage and fab children. Yet why is it that so many couples suffer marital problems directly after their first child comes along? It should be the most exciting and most satisfying part of your life. But all too often, kids can wreak havoc on a relationship. How do you childproof your marriage?

Tips to Childproof the Relationship

  • Make time for each other
  • Stop the bickering
  • Cure a flagging libido
  • Avoid jealousy

Make Time for Each Other

A recent American study found that marital unhappiness was at its height following the birth of Child Number One. It said that over 60 percent of women and 30 percent of men suffered a “drastic decline in marital satisfaction” after the child was born. The majority of the couples stayed together to have another child, yet when the kids turned four they often sought a divorce.

One reason for this is that couples so rarely make time for each other. The demands of children coupled with little or no sleep in the early years make it almost impossible for partners to spend quality time together. By not childproofing their relationship, they get cranky and irritable, and start taking their frustrations out on each other.

It's often difficult with competing demands of work and children to pay enough attention to each other. But it's vital for a marriage to work. Pay for a babysitter or swap babysitting duties with a friend and try to go on a “date” at least once every two weeks, if not more. Go out for a meal, to the cinema, or even just for a long walk. You'll be surprised how life away from the kids can bring you closer together, if even for just an hour or two.

Stop the Bickering

Couples with children, especially where both partners work, often fall into the trap of arguing over who contributes more to family life. How often do we hear: “I took out the rubbish, you do the washing up,” or “I bathed the children yesterday, it's your turn tonight!”

Scorekeeping, however, only serves to make a marriage weaker, not stronger – as nobody is ever the winner. Set up a schedule of who does what when or make a chart, if only to stop the squabbles. After all, when they escalate into real fights it's often too late.

Cure a Flagging Libido

Men's libidos rarely start to change after the birth of children, women's often do. Men, however, don't often realise that tired women need more than just a nudge to get their juices flowing. Make time for romance, and sex will follow.

Having children doesn't have to mean an end to romance. In fact, knowing the two of you share another special bond can make intimacy all the more special. Exercise, go for a walk, go to bed earlier – anything to get your energy levels up. It'll be worth it in the long run. You can childproof your marriage – and your sex life as well.

Avoid Jealousy

Jealousy can often rear its ugly head in a marriage once the children come along. It starts when the husband feels left out when his wife is pregnant, he can't breastfeed and doesn't get any maternity leave. Dads get jealous when the wife makes everything centre around her and the child, and he begins to feel he's not a real part of the family.

Involving dads from the very beginning can help, and having them assume responsibility for much of the childcare. Let him know that you also miss the time you spent together as a couple sans enfants, and that you miss him as much as he misses you. Hopefully, things will work out.

It's a myth that nothing will change when you have children. Of course everything changes, including the relationship between husband and wife. But with a little extra time and effort, you can childproof your marriage – and make it even stronger. Share the responsibilities, go out together as a couple now and then, and share enough intimate moments together. The rest will follow.

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