How to Have Children and Maintain a Healthy Relationship
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
For women, having a baby can offer up particular challenges with relationships. They may feel less confident in their bodies and sex may be painful for a while, especially if they had a difficult birth. Breastfeeding and the other physical demands that children make on them may mean that they feel 'touched out'. They may suffer from post-natal depression and if they give up work, feel isolated and unable to connect to their partners.
What is the solution?
Given the above, how on earth are parents to keep their relationship healthy and happy while also taking good care of their children? The first thing to remember is that it is important to recognize that it is OK to feel overwhelmed and unhappy sometimes. While the advertising men would like us to believe that family life is always picture-perfect, anyone who has a family knows that is not always the case. Of course, it can be utterly wonderful and life-affirming, but it is often hard too: physically, financially and mentally. If you have yet to have a baby, discuss this before it arrives and talk about the need to tackle problems together once the baby is here. If you have children already, you are not a failure because things aren't quite as you imagined they might be. You are normal: talk about it.
It is actually easier than you think to keep your relationship together and have that happy family life you want.
Here are three ways you can make sure that happens:
1) Value each others' work
This sounds so basic, and you probably think you already do it. However, when you are busy with children, it is easy to forget basic things. If you have different roles in the home (especially if one partner is the breadwinner and the other the homemaker), remember that each others' role is equally important. And if it isn't, look at how you can re-balance things so that you are both contributing equally. If you both work full-time outside the home, then you should split household chores down the middle. If one of you works and the other doesn't, talk about how you both feel about your different roles. It can be incredibly tiring and lonely being the sole caretaker of children while the other partner gets away when they work. Equally, being the only person bringing money to the household can be stressful. You might not be able to change your roles, but understanding how each other feels about them can help you avoid arguments and feel more connected.
2) Find time for yourselves and each other
Before you had kids, you probably went out socially as a couple, and separately. After children, the main carer gives up their social life along with their job, and feels miserable as a result, while the working partner continues to see friends regularly outside the home. Sometimes both give up their social lives, including going out as a couple. Neither is healthy.
Have romantic nights alone: get a babysitter, or if you can't, have 'date nights' at home. Do the things you enjoyed before you had children, whether that is to go and watch a horror movie, or to have a peaceful walk around a park. Spend time on these things and you should find that you enjoy each others' company again and keep your sex life healthy. Also have nights away from the home without each other. Everyone needs break and everyone needs more than just their partner and children in their lives.
This cannot be stressed enough. Talk to each other about your worries and problems. Talk about your hopes and dreams. Keep communicating and everything else should fall into place.
by featured guest author Melissa Tang
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