Tag Archives: surviving marital crisis

Children Can Bring a Couple Closer Together

I’ve had several comments regarding the Marriage/Babies Won’t Fix Relationship Problems post that led me to clarify my thoughts on how children may affect a relationship. My earlier point stated that if you have a rocky relationship, a baby will not magically repair the relationship. It’s important to point out that children do not “cause” relationship problems. Stress coming from many different directions (demanding jobs, frequent travel, conflict with parents) can simply magnify the cracks in your relationship.

But children don’t necessarily cause stress or strife, particularly in strong marriages in which children are desired. On the contrary, it’s my feeling that a strong relationship can be made stronger when children enter the family. The year after the firstborn isn’t always difficult (although research shows it is a challenge for many couples). My own experience after my first child was born was quite the opposite. My husband and I experienced a real “high” for at least a month following his birth, and a closeness following that–based on our new shared role as parents and our intense love for our child. Children are a blessing, not a bother. But they do require a realistic look at your lives to determine how they will be properly cared for and how you will simultaneously manage your other responsibilities.

The first year after my second child was born was very stressful for my husband and for me, because unlike our first, our second child very rarely slept through the night until she was two and a half. She required more energy during the day as well, something we were lacking due to sleepless nights. Essentially, we felt like we were competing to have our basic needs met, and we didn’t have close family members to rely on for backup. We hadn’t really anticipated feeling this way since our first baby was so easy. But after we got through it, it also made us feel like a unified team. We love both of our children equally and feel extremely fortunate to have them in our lives. The love we feel for them and they feel for us is priceless. The laughter and joy they add to our home can’t be measured.

Still, we struggle with making time for the two of us, and as they are now school-aged, with not making our family life all about their activities. More tips on that topic to come! Also read: How Does the Arrival of Children Affect the Quality of the Marriage?

One of the keys to getting past a rough period in a marriage is being able to see to the other side of the dip in satisfaction you may be experiencing. Researchers refer to the dip as a U-shaped curve, with the lower portion sometimes passing through career-building and childrearing. If you missed this post, read Author’s Secret to a Long-Lasting Marriage, which explains the common trajectory of marriage and the good news for couples who make it to the other side of the U.

For those of you who are parents, was that first year after your children were born stressful or joyful? Was it worthwhile? For couples who do not yet have children, do you fear what they might do to your relationship? Do you fear not having time for yourself, your hobbies or job? Do you hear parents talking negatively about their parental responsibilities?

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Outlast Your Marriage’s Stupid Phase

The Honorable Leah Ward Sears, a retired chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, has had her hand in dissolving more than a few marriages. She wrote a thoughtful article last month sharing some of what she has learned about marriage during her 26-year career on the bench, as well as in her personal life. Her take:

  • Love, yes, but be committed to marriage. Marriage is always complicated. Divorce is almost always a tragedy, even more so when children are involved. She once refused a divorce to a couple after meeting with them individually and realizing neither wanted it, although the husband had cheated on his wife of 40 years. She ordered counseling, they worked it out, and he later came back to thank her. “I don’t know of any long-term marriage that doesn’t go through a ‘stupid’ phase,” she says.
  • Marriage is the most pro-child institution we have. She cites research that children living with married parents have higher self-esteem, are less delinquent, are more likely to delay sexual activity and have lower rates of teen pregnancy than children from single-parent families.
  • Judge Sears adds that married parents report being happier, more satisfied, and have fewer emotional problems than divorced parents. “For your children as well as ourselves, it’s time for our country to recommit to the institution of marriage,” she says.
  • After years of studying this nation’s divorce epidemic—and even pondering her own failed first marriage—Judge Sears has come to an insightful conclusion about what makes a marriage succeed. “They key to most successful marriages is when the couple is more committed to the health and longevity of the marriage than to each other. That way, during those times when they can’t stand each other—and those times surely will come, as no one is perfect—they have something to fall back on and remain committed to.” She says while love, laughter and common values are important in mate selection, commitment to the marriage itself is more important.

Judge Sears serves as a Distinguished Fellow in Family Law at the Institute for American Values. Read her complete article: Love, yes, but be committed to marriage.

What are you committed to? Your own happiness? Finding enduring romantic love? Your mate? Or  the health of your marriage?