Photo by Jamie Coupaud on Unsplash
Photo by Jamie Coupaud on Unsplash

Marriage after Children

Question

After spending years praying for a child, God gave us a wonderful little girl.  Unfortunately, our precious daughter has changed our marriage in some unexpected ways that have become scary for us.  Any suggestions on how to navigate these new waters?

Answer

A recent national survey showed that, after having a baby, 67% of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet.  I remember a headline several years ago that said, “Here Comes the Baby … there goes the marriage.”

Babies can be an answer to prayer, but if you aren’t prepared they can also be hard on a marriage.  You have less time, less sleep, less energy, and less money.  The more tired and weary you become, the more you will feel overwhelmed by confusing emotions.  Romance becomes more challenging.  It’s easier for husbands to feel excluded.  It’s NOT a recipe for success.

The good news is that there are a number of simple things that thousands of other first-time parents have found helpful.  Find specific ways to nurture your relationship and not just your child.  Take a marriage enrichment class that will help you refine your communication and conflict management skills.

Look up what God has promised in Psalm 37:1-8 & 84:11, Romans 8:29-29a & 37, Ephesians 3:20-21 and Philippians 4:19.  Read the verses out loud and remind each other of WHO you are because of WHOSE you are.

Count your blessings. Yes, and name them one by one, write them down and remind each other of them.

Exercise together.  Ride bikes.  Take long walks.  During these times alternate between a designated listener and speaker so both of you get adequate “air” time.

Talk to and even interview other couples with kids older than yours and find out what helped them.

The most important thing is to make time to pray for each other, pray with each other, and find at least three other couples who will covenant to pray daily for you..  Cultivate the habit of praying throughout the day, face-to-face, on the phone, in a text or email, while changing diapers.  It may sound cliché, but prayer changes things, prayer changes people, even when they’re changing diapers.  Really!

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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