Having a baby can put stress on even the best relationships. But procreating doesn't have to totally tank your marriage. Avoiding these bad habits that hurt your marriage when you're pregnant can prevent a lot of heartache later on. The final pre-baby weeks are a great time to supercharge your relationship and get it in great working order.
A stressful, life-changing event, having a baby can take even the happiest couples by surprise. A couple's satisfaction with marriage typically decreases at a higher rate when children enter the picture, explained professor of psychology and director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University Matthew D. Johnson, in The Conversation. Babies add a tremendous dose of new responsibility to a couple, and they pretty much change everything about the family dynamic.
This isn't meant to demonize babies, of course. They don't mean to be so disruptive, but they certainly require a lot of work from the parental units.
That said, many couples do make the whole parenting thing work in their favor, but it just takes some conscious effort from everyone. Read on to learn how to tweak your relationship now to ensure a better experience for everyone once parenthood arrives.
1. Expecting Immediate Change
Were you hoping a partner who's lax about doing the dishes or paying bills on time would immediately shape up? Eh, even the pending arrival of a baby won't change someone's general demeanor for the most part. In general, expecting a partner to change after marriage is misguided, according to Psychology Today. It's not going to happen in most cases.
2. Failing To Communicate
Expecting your partner to know your wants and desires, without any instruction from you, is a fast way to make everyone in the relationship disappointed. With this in mind, it's extra important to master the art of proper communication with one another before the baby comes. Communicating well involves the ability to state your needs clearly, listen to your partner's responses, and negotiate a solution that works for you both, according to the Better Health Channel.
3. Not Discussing Finances
Financial matters are a recurring source of contention for many couples. In fact, as many as one-third of coupled adults cite money as a regular cause of conflict in the relationship, according to the American Psychological Association. And when you consider the fact that raising a child costs about $233,610, according to the most recent United States Department of Agriculture report, then this is no light issue. Children are hella expensive.
As much as possible, make sure you're on the same page about spending on the kid. How will you budget for diapers, food, and clothes for the baby? Are you aware of the preschool costs in your area? Money isn't everything, but being on the same page about finances is crucial for all couples, especially those who are about to have a child.
4. Keeping Score
Keeping score in a relationship usually means playing a game that no one wins. Because keeping score often involves focusing on the most negative aspects of a relationship, it tends to bring about resentment more than anything, as noted in Symmetry Counseling. Simply communicating about the flaws in the relationship is a much more effective way to go.
5. Ignoring Your Own Needs
When you're busy preparing for the arrival of a baby, as well as working to baby-proof your marriage, it's easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside. But it's important to avoid this trap and make sure you have some solid self-care routines in place before the baby arrives. It's crucial to make sure your own needs are met first, because this means you're better able to care for the baby and also keep your relationship strong, as noted in Parents. (Also, self care is important for its own sake.)
6. Trying To Do It All Alone
If you're generally a take-charge person who manages her own stuff pretty well, then getting used to asking for help can be daunting. But caring for a baby is freaking exhausting, and you'll generally need some backup from time to time. Asking for help from your partner, relatives, and friends with childcare, especially in the early newborn days, is crucial, according to Today's Parent. After all, you need some rest and relaxation perhaps more than ever.
7. Fighting Loudly And Often
Hey, some people are just naturally loud when expressing any emotion, so a shouty argument is no big deal. But you may want to reevaluate your arguing style before the baby arrives. "Even a 3-month old will pick up vibes," said psychologist John C. Friel in WebMD. "Look at the intensity and frequency of your fights." If your arguments are vicious and potentially scary, then finding another way to express disagreements is crucial.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.