Kids Change Everything! How To Have Marital Satisfaction After Welcoming A New Child.
According to John Gottman, PHD, 67% of wives experience marital dissatisfaction once a baby comes into the family. The husbands recognize this once their relationship starts to change. To Gottman, the baby is like a grenade into the relationship. Reasons for the dissatisfaction have to do with anger, lack of sleep, being overwhelmed, and not appreciated. Throw possibly navigating a job or other life circumstances into motherhood and it could mean negative impacts on a relationship.
How can this be fixed?
For new moms, their whole life and identity has shifted. They have never experienced a love like this before, there is a new meaning to life, and she realizes that she is willing to make major sacrifices for her child. How have 33% of relationships been able to not only overcome this marital dissatisfaction but thrive through this change?
According to Gottman, the husband must follow his wife into this new place in life. When a husband enters the place of sacrifice, love, and wonder, then he will not feel left out. He will not feel like a husband that is missing attention from his wife, but a father that is caring and loving a child alongside his wife.
Here are a few tips to make this happen
Focus on your marital friendship. The better you are as team players, the better for your relationship. A husband that knows his wife will be able to tune into her and care for her as she enters this new world.
Don’t exclude Dad from baby care. Moms can sometimes fall into the role of the “supervisor" and chief decision maker when it comes to the baby. You have to remember that Dad is a parent of the child too. The more you treat Dad like he doesn’t know what he is doing, the less that Dad will feel confident in caring for this child. They then feel excluded and more distant from their wife and child. Gottman says that Mom must learn to not micromanage the care for the baby and realize that there is more than one way to “burp a baby.” Maybe there are some rituals that could be set aside just for Dad and the baby, where he can feel confident in his place in caring for this new child.
Let Dad be the baby's playmate. Some men do not feel a connection with the baby until the baby gets older. Moms tend to be more nurturing and Dads tend to be more playful. Go with it! Babies start smiling at 3 weeks. Dads who join in the bathing, diapering, and feeding often know how to make a baby laugh!
Spend time together without the baby. It's ok to talk about the baby during your dates. Spend time talking about each other's needs and how you can help meet those needs.
Be sensitive to Dad’s needs. In the early months, a baby needs Mom more than Dad. The more Mom affirms the work Dad is doing and reminds him that he is still central to her life, the more supportive he will be. The wife that does not have time for the relationship, will get a husband that is resentful and he will possibly withdraw.
Give Mom A Break! Mothers give a lot of their physical bodies. If she is a working Mom, she is even more tired. Showing your wife that you care for her needs to take care of herself goes a long way in a relationship. A willingness to change work hours, things you spend your time doing, or projects around the house, just to give her the space and time to care for herself will help your wife to feel appreciated!
All in all, a marriage that is a friendship and an adventure you joyfully go through together, will result in a marriage that lasts and has many fun experiences. It will also develop kids who feel safe and secure in their attachments to their parents.
Want to explore ways to find friendship and grow in your relationship? Connect with one of our marriage and family counselors here at Clarity Counseling. We help couples to deepen their relationships and find marital health through all the hiccups and challenges of life together.
Reference GOTTMAN, J. (2023). Seven principles for making marriage work. ORION SPRING.