Becoming parents is one of the most emotional experiences a couple can share. Parents routinely express that it is one of the happiest moments in their lives. During pregnancy, a lot of time is spent taking care of things for the baby– attending pre-natal appointments and child-birth classes, shopping, decorating the nursery, etc. – but are you taking care of your marriage?
According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal:
“Numerous studies have shown that a couples’ satisfaction with their marriage takes a nose dive after the first child is born. Sleepless nights and fights over whose turn it is to change diapers can leach the fun out of a relationship…About two-thirds of couples see the quality of their relationship drop within three years of the birth of a child…Conflict increases and, with little time for adult conversation and sex, emotional distance can develop…A key source of conflict among new parents is dividing up—and keeping score of—who does what for the baby and the household.”
Thankfully, studies also show that couples who engage in pre-baby relationship planning can avoid the decrease in marital satisfaction. The practical approach to problem solving found in marital mediation is extremely effective in preparing for parenthood. Couples can explore their beliefs on parenting and address their expectations in a relaxed environment. Marital mediation is an opportunity for expecting parents to address financial issues of starting a family, resolve certain childrearing issues, and even create a plan for dividing responsibilities. The experience can help strengthen marriages and ease the transition from couple to family.
When a new child is being added to a stepfamily, pre-baby relationship planning is even more important. Blended families often present a number of unique issues. For example, spouses may disagree on child rearing issues which results in children being treated differently. A couple must work together to establish clear rules, appropriate expectations, and acceptable standards for behavior for all children of the household. In marital mediation, couples can develop a unified parenting approach and learn necessary communication and conflict resolution skills.