Guest blogger Rachel Pace breaks down what the pressure of parenting really looks like on a marriage and some tips and tools to overcome the challenges.
Parenting is fun and challenging, and sometimes frustrating, and usually exhausting. It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and also one of the most exhilarating.
It can also have a big impact on your marriage.
There are no two ways about it – parenting puts a lot of pressure on your marriage. Instead of just having each other to focus on when you’re both at home, you have one or more small dependent people to care for. You love them to bits – but sometimes you feel like your marriage is coming under more and more pressure.
Here’s what the pressure of parenting really looks like on marriage – and what you can do about it.
YOU ARGUE OVER WHO IS MOST EXHAUSTED
You’ve had an exhausting day with two children under the age of four, one of whom is potty training and the other of whom screamed blue murder every time you tried to put them down. You haven’t sat down, eaten, or had a moment’s peace all day.
Then your partner comes home and wants to tell you all about how stressful their day at work was and how much office politics is driving them crazy.
Understandably, you want to scream and tell them to walk a day in your shoes. Parenting is exhausting and it can soon become a contest of who is the most tired.
What to do: Suck it up. Accept that for the next little while you’re both going to be running low on sleep and patience, and do your best to make things just a bit easier for each other. If you pull together instead of fighting about it, this parenting gig will be much easier.
YOU FORGET WHAT AN ADULT MEAL LOOKS LIKE
Meal time used to be your time to catch up with each other and enjoy something home-cooked, or from your favorite take-out.
Now it’s time to listen to your kids bickering, while you try and persuade them to take the pasta out of their nose and try just one bite of vegetables, please, or there won’t be any dessert.
What to do: Feed the kids first. That way you can give them your full attention, and make sure they feel heard when they want to talk about their day. Then later, when they’re in bed, the two of you can relax with a quiet adult meal. Ah, bliss.
ALL YOUR PLANS REVOLVE AROUND SCHOOL
Once your kids reach school age, you’ll start to feel like a personal assistant, only with no medical, dental, or vacation pay. It’s exciting, and emotional, watching your little ones grow up, learn new things, and make new friends. But sometimes life feels like a whirl of school events.
Before long your marriage is overrun with paying for school trips, attending parent teacher conferences, making things for the bake sale, and constructing the perfect school play costume out of felt and glue.
What to do: Make some plans just for the two of you. Set aside a regular time (if you can’t do weekly, bi-weekly or monthly works great) for just the two of you. Get a sitter, or call in a favor from a trusted friend or family member, and head out for some kid-free time. You’ll both benefit from some time off, and your kids will benefit from having less stressed parents.
YOU’RE MORE LIKE COLLEAGUES THAN PARTNERS
Your marriage can quickly become very business like after you have children. It feels like all your interactions are about who needs driving to soccer practice, who is on time out and why, and who needs money for their latest class.
Add in doctor and dentist appointments, after school clubs, and music or swimming lessons, and before long you and your partner are treating each other like colleagues. You’re passing business-like messages and making arrangements for the kids like champions – but where is the romance and the time together?
What to do: Make time each day to have conversations that aren’t about the kids, and spend some quality time together. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t have to do anything particular. Just grabbing a coffee together each morning or relaxing together on the couch with a favorite show after the kids are in bed will make a difference.
Parenting has a huge impact on a marriage. Everything will change, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, learning to navigate parenthood together can bring you closer than ever before. Just remember to make plenty of time for your marriage, so it doesn’t become an afterthought.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.