So many couples think that having kids will bring them together. Sadly, research has found that the opposite is true. This probably isn’t something that parents want to hear, but it’s a cold hard fact that you just can’t run away from: there’s no better way to kill the romance in a relationship than by having kids.
According to The Conversation, studies over the last 30 years have confirmed that relationships suffer once kids come into the equation. Researchers found that couples who have children become more dissatisfied with their relationship than childless couples. If the pregnancy was unplanned, this makes the dissatisfaction even worse.
There is a silver lining though: even though parents report being less satisfied after kids, having kids also makes couples less likely to divorce.
So what can couples do?
Research from The Gottman Institute has found that almost 2/3 of couples become less satisfied in their relationship after having a baby. What were the remaining 1/3 doing right? Here’s a few things you can do to keep your relationship from taking a nose-dive.
1. Who’s got team spirit? We’ve got team spirit!
Parents need to feel that they’re in it together. To do this, they should focus on maintaining emotional intimacy by making more efforts to connect with each other. Instead of just asking close-ended questions (e.g. “Who’s driving the kids to practice tomorrow?”, “Can you take out the trash?”), start actual conversations with open-ended questions (e.g. “What do you think about what’s going on in the news?”, “How do you think we can become better parents?”).
Read more tips on keeping your marriage strong even after having kids on the next page.
2. Appreciate each other—out loud
It’s important that you stay positive and don’t become critical of each other. Give each other the benefit of the doubt when the other falls short. Thank your partner for every little thing. Words are powerful, and your kind words can really lift you and your partner’s emotions.
3. Solve problems constructively
When conflict arises, remain kind and gentle and remember that it’s not about winning the argument, it’s about moving forward.
4. Make your partner feel valued
You can do this in a multitude of ways. Ask for their advice and make them feel that what they have to say really matters to you. This makes them feel respected and lets them know that they really matter to you.
5. Make time for each other EVERY DAY
Don’t take your partner for grated. It’s essential that you catch up with each other every day, not just every now and then. By doing so, your connection will be continuously strong and stable.
READ: 10 Parents reveal how they “re-centered” their marriage after baby
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