Maybe you’ve heard that your marriage will take a hit when you and your partner become parents. A lot of research has found that becoming a parent does initially cause a drop in relationship satisfaction, but a recent study found that some couples’ satisfaction levels only dropped a little bit while others’ took a nose dive. So here’s a few things to know about what your relationship can expect when you’re expecting…
1. Everybody’s relationship satisfaction dips a little at first.
All of the couples in the study experienced a decline in marital satisfaction when they had their first child, so if you find yourself initially feeling a slight lull in your relationship, this is completely normal. Having a baby creates added demands on time, energy, and resources (like sleep). That’s a lot of new stress and exhaustion you’re experiencing, so expect that it will take a little time for you and your partner to adjust and find your groove again.
2. New fathers are considerably more likely to show a steep decline in their relationship satisfaction than mothers.
This may be due to a few things:
- Decrease in physical intimacy in the relationship
- Sometimes Mom prevents Dad from being involved with the baby
- New stress of trying to balance work and family
So, new moms, try to let your husband be involved with taking care of your new baby as much as possible. New dads, be patient with yourself as you figure out the balance between work and family and if you can, consider taking some paternity leave so you can have time to enjoy your new family member without the stress of work. And both of you can benefit from finding ways to continue to show affection for one another.
**How to Prevent Relationship Distress**
Becoming a parent doesn’t mean that your happiness in your relationship will inevitably tank. Here are some key things that made a difference in whether the level of satisfaction in the relationship dipped just a little or had a steep decline:
- Mother’s higher self-esteem made for a smoother transition for both parents
- Mother’s stress level predicted husband’s relationship satisfaction – the less stressed Mom is, the more likely Dad is to be happy.
- Father’s level of anxiety and/or depression during the prenatal period was the strongest factor in determining Mom’s happiness in the marriage after the baby was born
Also, most spouses are likely to mirror each other in their level of relationship satisfaction, so if you are only moderately affected, your partner is likely to follow suit and vise versa. Remember, the transition to parenthood is a great time to check-up on your relationship health! Take RELATE today to get a comprehensive and scientific assessment of how your relationship is doing.