Marriage/Babies Won’t Fix Relationship Problems

These might fall under the category of “duh” but I consider them reminders worth repeating, so I’ll pass along:

If you’re engaged, and you think marriage will resolve problems in your relationship, sorry Charlie. Marriage generally magnifies–rather than diminishes–conflict or disputes. Do yourself a favor and hash out your differences in premarital counseling, allowing your marriage to flourish rather than crash and burn. Don’t be shy about it. Every couple has conflict; the ones who last merely learned how to move past them.

Secondly, despite the hopes of the young and naive, having a baby isn’t the solution to a rocky relationship. Quite the contrary, in fact. The year after the first child is born is generally one of the most stressful times for a couple. Take the time to work out your issues before taking the parenting plunge–or before having another child. (While you’re at it, be sure you’ve agreed on how you’ll handle childcare, work and home responsibilities.) For stable couples, parenting can be a complete joy, but for couples in conflict, the lack of time and sleep only exacerbate marital woes and may worsen feelings of anger and ambivalence.

Do you have experiences to share about these or other lessons learned prior to taking the next “big step” in your relationship? What do you wish you had known before you married or as a newlywed?

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7 responses to “Marriage/Babies Won’t Fix Relationship Problems

  1. I wish that a friend of mine had learned point number 2. She thought that having a baby would save her relationship with her husband. He didn’t want anymore children. So when she became pregnant, he moved out. They currently live separately {he is involved with his daughter}.

    I think those points are worth repeating, because apparently people haven’t grasped it yet.

    Is the year after the child born more prone to be stressful because of the lack of sleep/time together? Or is that more for couples in a rocky relationship?

    • Yes, I think the stress is usually because of lack of sleep, little time together, far less time to do your “own thing”, and greater work and responsibilities. However, in couples who have anticipated the role of parents and planned for what will come, the joy of having children far outweighs the hassles. The couples in rocky relationships will often find they just feel stronger about their needs not being met. That doesn’t mean the relationships can’t be repaired, but it can be more challenging and require sacrifice with a newborn in the home.

  2. Great advice. I’ve always been grateful that we waited 5 years before having children. Yes, we are now “older” parents, but our marriage is so much stronger because of it.

    I do wish I had known that even really solid relationships will experience a downswing after having children. It’s normal, but difficult, and requires a lot of healthy patience and communication.

    I also wish more parents could understand that your worst day as a parent is always better than someone else’s best day. That was not very eloquent, but what I mean to say is that even on a bad day, we have so much to be grateful for. My husband and I can now joke through a bad patch and say “it could be worse!”

  3. I got married after knowing my spouse less than a year and had a baby less than 2 years later. Yes there was conflict and there still is, but I don’t regret any of it!

    I just wanted to add that a baby can and does make a marriage stronger in a lot of ways – there are more opportunities to serve each other and support each other emotionally, etc… Yes, its stressful, and yes, it can exacerbate any unresolved relationship issues, but it does also bring you closer together as a couple.

    • I agree with you, Eric, and your comment led me to share my personal experience to clarify this point. The post was meant to warn couples that children can’t magically repair a relationship that has deep problems. However, I agree that children can bring a couple in good marriage closer.

  4. i had a baby to bring me and my boyfriend closer. it has totally backfired. i had to move out, live in a psych ward for a year and now mentally ill i have to start my life over again. i am scared sh*tless!

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