When two people in a relationship get married and decide to have children, they rarely talk about how they plan to raise their children. When partners disagree about parenting, most people have firm beliefs based on their own experiences. The real issues begin when these two people have a child and their parenting styles create friction. Usually, when partners disagree about parenting issues, one parent tends to be stricter and the other tends to be more relaxed. At this time, the child learns how to play one parent against the other to satisfy his or her desires. Parenting issues will end up causing trouble in the marriage and make the partners feel extremely discouraged.
The truth is that children can create a significant amount of stress in a couple’s relationship, especially when the kids are young. According to research, relationship satisfaction decreases following the birth of the first child. Here are some risk factors to look for when you feel that your marriage is not going well:
- Disagreements over parenting styles.
- Parental control from one parent is too tight.
- Overprotection from one parent.
- Parental physical or mental illness.
- Parental alcohol or substance abuse.
Balancing marriage and parenting.
Couples soon discover that the joy of having a child can be replaced by many new challenges. Especially in the beginning, the transition into parenting is a huge adjustment for any couple. Partners who are raising children may not feel quite as close to each other as they did in earlier years. Parenting demands a lot of time and attention, especially when your kids are young. The problem with parenting issues is that they can cause parents to neglect their own relationship. It is not surprising that the divorce rate among couples has more than doubled in recent years. Maintaining a healthy marriage and keeping a balance between marriage and parenting is the most difficult thing to do. Let’s look at some simple ways you can help maintain a balance between your relationship with your partner and parenting:
Send the kids to bed early. It is important for parents to set regular bedtimes for their children. This way, partners can spend little time by themselves in the evening to reconnect.
Frequent check-ins. Partners should dedicate a few minutes each day to check in with each other, maybe just after the kids have gone to school or to bed. If you take time toward the end of the day, it’s a good idea to share the good and bad parts of the day and discuss any upcoming plans.
Show your emotions. It is important to express your emotions every day. Hug each other, hold hands, and say “I love you” every day.
Improve intimacy. Sex should be a priority, especially for new parents. It is a good way to strengthen the connection between partners. Therefore, partners should schedule regular sexual intimacy. Sex can reduce stress and improve feelings of comfort and security between partners.
Go on date nights. Partners should have regular date nights and leave the kids with a sitter or another member of the family. The date doesn’t have to be expensive or long-lasting. It is not the quantity that matters, but the quality and the time spent together. Date nights may include going for ice cream, taking a walk, or a romantic dinner together.
Set boundaries. It is good to love our children, but it is also important to know that good parenting doesn’t mean fulfilling their every desire. It is important for parents to let their children know that they are loved, but it is also important that they set boundaries.
Make decisions together. Partners should take important decisions together and listen to and respect each other’s opinions. Whether it’s a decision in regards to parenting or something else, partners should work together and support each other.
Discuss parenting issues. Many couples believe their marriage is strong because they rarely argue. Other couples believe that discussing problems will only create tension. But the real problems start when partners distance themselves from each other. Therefore, partners should feel free to discuss any topic, such as parenting issues, and find a way to solve them together. Though it’s not easy, it is important to sit down and calmly discuss small issues before they grow into larger problems.
Be grateful. Partners should always find time to appreciate each other and let each other know, even if it’s just a simple thank-you for cooking dinner or taking the kids to school.
Coping with parenting issues.
Couples who feel stressed or feel that they have a problematic relationship should keep in mind that they are not alone, and they are not necessarily doing something wrong. There are many things you can do to cope with these problems and improve your happiness. Managing the stress that partners face as new parents can help them maintain the happiness they have had and develop more positive emotions and experiences going forward. Partners don’t need to wait until their children grow up and leave the house to feel happy again. The following suggestions can significantly help new parents who are coping with parenting issues:
It is important for both partners to take care of themselves and their own needs, not just those of their children. It is important to maintain good physical and mental health by following a few simple steps:
- Eat healthy meals.
- Get enough sleep.
- Find some time for yourselves.
Finding social support.
Family members, friends, and other people in your community can help couples stress less and enjoy their time together more. It is important for new parents to create a strong support system that will support them both physically and emotionally. Partners should find people who can help them maintain balance and eliminate toxicity.
Focus on maintaining balance.
Maintaining balance means meeting your own needs as well as your children’s and partner’s needs; balancing time spent with family and time spent away from home; balancing work with play. Here are some things you can try to help find that balance:
- Create a schedule with your activities, children’s activities, work time, play time, and sleep time.
- Engage in fun experiences to create more memories.
- Eliminate toxicity.
- Try to enjoy every minute.
- Embrace positive experiences.
- Feel grateful.
- Focus on the present.
- Maintain friendships with other families.
- Have fun as a family.
- Be patient with your kids and your partner.
Give second chances.
Every human being makes mistakes. You and your partner are both going to make a mistake or make a bad decision every once in a while. When you or your partner make mistakes, don’t start accusing each other, especially in front of the kids. Take some time and discuss the mistake calmly. Then, learn to forgive. You are partners and you need to support each other. You are not enemies. It is important not to let parenting issues destroy your relationship. Listen to each other, respect what each other has to say, and compromise on what is important. Learn to agree that you are both on the same team.
Relationship coaching for parenting issues.
Relationship coaching can help new parents in various ways. Some parents get stressed out by parenting challenges or by small parenting issues. These challenges or parenting issues can be a one-time thing or a recurring situation. Some parents have a child with a mental health issue or behavioral problems. These parents may find the help the child needs but leave their own problems unaddressed. This can be detrimental for a couple’s relationship. The stress that builds up will overwhelm the relationship and destroy intimacy, slowly driving the relationship to a dead end. Furthermore, parenting issues can lead to depression, worry, irritability, and anger between parents and can also cause irreversible damage to the parents’ relationship as partners. In relationship or marriage coaching, parents can address their own problems and concerns. Relationship coaching can help parents by offering support and guidance and can teach them new skills to solve their parenting issues. When parenting issues and other problems go unaddressed, it will also affect your children. Relationship coaching can help address parenting issues and other problems, and may come in one or more forms:
Relationship and/or marriage coaching: Parents may find relationship coaching to be appropriate for them as it can strengthen their parenting skills, improve their emotional connection, and promote their partnership. Relationship coaching can also help by teaching parents new skills for resolving their disagreements about parenting their children.
Family therapy: Family therapy takes into consideration the entire system and includes every part of the family: parents and children. Family therapy can address issues that affect the whole family and can create the opportunity for each family member to bring up their own concerns that are connected to the family dynamic.
Classes for new parents: Classes can help new parents improve their parenting skills and their communication skills. These classes may ask parents to set specific goals, such as spending more time with the kids and helping their kids with studying.
Support groups: Parenting support groups can help parents during the difficult stages of a child’s life. These support groups usually consist of a professional and people who share similar issues. Sharing and discussing experiences in this group can be beneficial for parents as they learn from others.
Individual counseling: Parents may seek out a counselor that can help them individually for their own concerns. Individual counseling can help them develop themselves. Finally, a child development specialist can help the child individually by addressing the child’s issues.
Aasheim, V., Waldenström, U., Rasmussen, S., Espehaug, B., & Schytt, E. (2014). Satisfaction with life during pregnancy and early motherhood in first-time mothers of advanced age: a population-based longitudinal study. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 14, 86. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2393-14-86.