One popular myth about parenting is that children can boost the happiness of the couple. While many couples strive to have children in their lives, having one doesn’t necessarily add to the overall happiness of the couple. In fact, having a child may even decrease that happiness.
Why Couples With Kids Become Unhappy
Research studies conclude that the happiness of a married couple is in jeopardy right after having their first child. “A lot of family life is about putting out fires,” says Linda Waite, PhD, a sociologist at the University of Chicago. “With children, there are so many things you have to deal with immediately, so you don’t work on your own relationship. The decrease in marital satisfaction among couples with children is twice as much with couples without children. With the decline of marital satisfaction also comes a reduction in the likelihood of divorce.
However, that’s not at all! Research studies also found out that the mothers typically handle the whole brunt of childcare. It is because many couples still use gender-stereotypical roles to determine the responsibilities of each parent in childcare. As a result, mothers are expected to be the “24/7 on-call” parent for their children.
With these things mentioned, how can a couple strengthen their bond after having children? Experts suggest the following tips.
Check On Each Other
If you and your spouse have time to ask your child on how their day was, do the same for each other! Reconnecting with each other will keep that spark alive in your relationship. Discuss your best and worst days or share short stories about your day at work.
Reconnecting doesn’t have to be done through a fancy dinner date or day alone at the beach. “A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity,” says relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D. of The Gottman Institute. You can allow at least 20 minutes of small talk and chat about this activity. Do it during the commute on your way to work or after your kid’s bedtime.
Share the Workload
“When both parents are working tirelessly on day-to-day tasks just to keep everyone going, they can become very businesslike in their relationship,” explains Dr. Alicia Walker, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State University. One common source of resentment among spouses is the workload. Most of the time, mothers feel like they are getting the short end of the stick in childcare. Caroline Bogeaus, of Agoura Hills, California was in that kind of position.
She always felt like she was taking the brunt of parenting. Angry, tired, and unsatisfied, she couldn’t look at her husband in the eye when he comes home from work. Fortunately, her husband noticed this growing tension and asked to talk about it. Now, both of them have the same workload in parenting.
With this example in mind, it is essential that couples don’t depend on gender-stereotypical roles to assign responsibilities in parenting. After all, a couple is not one man, but two. By having an equal share of duties, there is no source of resentment on who does more in the relationship.
Give Yourself Time Away From Your Kids
Parents and their children are always inseparable. However, in actuality, parents don’t necessarily have to be with their children all the time. It is vital that a couple encourage the independence of their children at an early age. Encouraging their freedom will not only teach them how to do things on their own but also foster patience and resilience.
And what’s more, parents can have more time with each other!