Annual Women's Health Section
The birth of a first child can be a major adjustment for couples to navigate.
Understanding Marital Health After Baby
Over 3.6 million babies are born each year in the United States, and when born to first-time parents, usher in a season full of change. Bringing home a baby transforms daily routines and responsibilities; for many couples, the challenges that accompany this adjustment can take a toll on their relational health. In one study, 67% of married couples reported a decline in relationship satisfaction in the year after the birth of their first child. With the majority of new parents struggling with an increase in conflict and decrease in closeness, it’s important to understand the stressors behind this trend and how to respond.
Stressors and Solutions
Common stressors that can strain marriages after bringing baby home include differences in parenting styles, increased responsibilities, finances, lack of intimacy, emotional exhaustion, and loss of sleep.
While parents may not be able to eliminate these stressors, they can control how they respond to them. Implementing healthy practices can help couples avoid and defuse conflict and draw closer to one another:
- Communicate expectations. Whether it’s parenting styles or balancing responsibilities, an open dialogue about expectations can limit misunderstandings that lead to conflict.
- Bring up problems gently. Disagreements are inevitable, but enter the conversation wanting to understand your partner’s perspective rather than taking a combative stance.
- Set aside time to spend together. Intentional time spent emotionally connecting can build intimacy.
- Remember that you’re in this together. You and your partner are a team that can help each other find the solution to a problem.
Practices such as these can be helpful tools as couples navigate parenthood, and if needed, therapists can help guide discussions and provide insight to spouses during this transition. Prioritizing relational health benefits parents and baby alike as couples enjoy their growing family.