Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Having Children Can Be Good for a Marriage

Married couples often find that the first year of parenthood is the hardest, whether dealing with a first baby, a second, or a third. Your “together time” is diminished, your sex life is put on the back burner, your own needs may go unmet for quite a while, you’re cranky due to lack of sleep . . . need I go on? The fact is, having children can be very stressful on a marriage! But it can also be a time of great discovery as you learn more about your partner than ever before. Seeing your spouse through the lens of parenthood can give you a whole new appreciation for each other. By focusing on the following “positives” of having children, you may find after getting through the initial adjustment period that your marriage is better than ever!

You’ll Realize the Fulfillment of a Dream: Nothing is more bonding than sharing a dream. When athletic teams share the dream of going to the playoffs, they bond together as never before to pursue that dream. The same holds true for married couples. When you mutually choose each other to become the other parent to your children; when you save money, buy a house, and make plans so you can have a family; when you talk about what to name your children and the family traditions you hope to share with them—these are incredible togetherness experiences. A shared dream gives a marriage purpose and meaning. It unites the two of you in a powerful way.

You’ll Establish a Bond That Will Forever Link You Together: The dream doesn’t stop with the goal just to have children. Married couples continue to bond through the goal of continuing to give their children the best life possible. You work together as a couple to ensure that the family you’ve created thrives and prospers. Having children—and wanting them to grow up healthy and happy—is a goal that will unite you for the rest of your lives. No matter what directions your lives may take or how much your interests might diverge, you will always share the special bond of sharing a child and making her your highest priority.

A Baby Will Take Your Relationship to a Whole New Level of Commitment: Once you have a family, you’re more motivated than ever to make your relationship work. There’s so much more at stake—not just your own happiness, but that of your children as well. When problems arise, parents don’t throw in the towel so easily. Even troubled couples or those that don’t plan to marry are now bonded together for the welfare of the baby. The consequences are greater if things don’t work out, and so they go the extra mile to get through the rough spots. They are no longer just committed to each other, but to their family. It’s not as easy to walk away when troubles arise.

A Baby Makes a Family: What do you share with your partner that you share with nobody else? Your children. You are the only two people in the world who have the joy of being these children’s parents—together. You are a family unit. You are their mommy and daddy—the two people they want to be with more than anyone else in the world. You are united in this very important role. No longer are you just a couple; you are now a family. And as Dr. Joyce Brothers has wisely said, “When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.”

So, when your marriage hits those rocky patches brought on by the stresses and strains of parenthood, just remember that it took the two of you to create this very special child—visible proof that you have an incredible bond that’s worth preserving!

Adapted from Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year ©2006 by Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D., Susan M. Heim, and Jennifer L. Youngs.

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