Remember this little poem from grade school?
Girl and Boy, sittin’ in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.
First comes love, then comes marriage,
then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
But what comes next?
Nobody in grade school, or any time thereafter, prepares you for the changes that come after the baby arrives. The baby in the baby carriage is definitely not the end of the story. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel the pressure of new responsibilities that a child brings.
Finances are one of the most common marriage problems, with or without children.
Having a child adds a new level to the dynamic of the family, which had been previously defined by just husband and wife.
There is no doubt having a baby changes things, but it can change things for the better. It can bring increased meaning and commitment to something that is already great.
Some of the most common troubles and questions that arise include:
When will there be time for us again?
Kids take a lot of time and energy. When they are first born, they are absolutely dependent upon and struggle being away from parents, especially Mom. It’s natural for couples to feel overwhelmed by new limitations to doing activities together, taking vacations, working, or being physically intimate.
Answer: When you make time and take time!
Couples that plan out dates and spend time caring for their child together can continue to enjoy time and romance together. Take advantage of the time children sleep to spend time devoted to each other. Turn off the TV and your electronic devices and simply enjoy one another.
Do you like the baby more than me?
Some of you may not have experienced this; but parents often feel some jealousy towards their child, especially men. Babies are so dependent upon Mommy, that Daddies can feel pushed aside, especially when it’s just been the two of you for a long time.
Answer: Reconnect with your spouse and connect with your child!
My second son seemed like he was not at all interested in spending time with me. He always wanted and demanded my wife’s time. I found that as I studied my son’s tiny features as he slept, or volunteered to help my wife care for him, I felt less jealous and more connected to both him and my wife. I learned to appreciate their relationship, instead of envying it. I also made an extra effort to show affection to my wife and connect with her. As a result, our marriage was strengthened – and so was our family.
Where did the money go?
Finances are one of the most common marriage problems, with or without children. When kids come along, those already tight finances can become even more of a struggle. Diapers aren’t cheap, and each new child is another mouth to feed.
Answer: Be a wise spender and approach money issues as a team!
The moment two people are bound in marriage, what is mine becomes ours. Financial decisions are best dealt with as a couple. Make a budget together. Stick to your budget and review it together, often. Always remember that whatever the financial issue is, address the problem from an us against the problem perspective, rather than me against you.
Who’s job is it?
It’s hard to know the difference between Mom’s job and Dad’s job when it comes to caring for the kids. In a society that is continuously more void of distinct role separation for men and women, it’s hard to know what is expected.
Answer: Talk about it and make a plan!
Whether or not you have distinct roles in your family, making a plan for what each parent can do to help care for the child is important. Make a plan together and write it down. This doesn’t mean that you can’t help each other, or that you can’t be a little lenient when the other person makes mistakes, but it does mean that expectations are clear.
Mom said you could do what?
As kids grow up, especially in the teen years, parents struggle with triangulation: the child art of pitting parent against parent in an attempt to get what they want. Disagreements about discipline can plague even the best parents and marriages.
Answer: Unify, and make decisions together!
Don’t let these discipline problems creep up on you. Talk about your parenting styles and background ahead of time. Create some basic disciplining techniques that you can both agree on. Test them and continue to talk about solutions – what works and what doesn’t. Don’t say yes or no to your child until you have talked with the other parent.
When parents address these problems actively, and in positive ways, marriages and relationships have the potential to grow and expand. When we address the new stresses in our marriage that come with kids, both our marriage relationship and our relationship with our kids blossom. The marriage relationship is one of the most impactful influences on how our kids perceive the world and develop their own skills and relationships. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. And then … comes greater love, appreciation, and teamwork.
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