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It should go without saying that having a child together is one of the most challenging and rewarding things a couple can do together.  Whether having a child was planned, or a happy surprise, new parents are in for obstacles they could never have imagined.  Many people report that having a child, or several children is one of the best things life has to offer.  The prospect of caring for a small child and watching them grow is something that couples all over the country want out of their relationship.  Despite all the potential love in making a family, there are pitfalls that can come along the way.  Let’s explore a little more about first-time parents, and how their relationship can be at risk as they become parents.

How having children can increase risks for divorce

If you have read our online articles in the past you may have heard that divorce is actually on a decline, and has been so for a few decades.  A large part of this is that younger couples are splitting up less often than they did in the past.  There is one subgroup of couples however that is at risk for a divorce, these are people who are first-time parents.  It is not uncommon, and quite normal for people to find that their relationship and marriage is put to the test once a baby gets involved.  Social scientists have made careers out of studying how new parents are challenged when a baby comes.  In a study held by marriage researcher John Gottman, 67% of married individuals found a decrease in their relationship as they transition from newlyweds to parents.  Women typically notice this decline around the 6-month mark after the child is born, while men tend to notice a decline around 9 months in.

What these challenges mean and what can be done

We are not implying by any means that you should avoid having children with the person you love.  Simply be aware that even couples who are perfect teammates together can find themselves at odds with one another if they don’t anticipate and work through their issues.  Below are some key items that Mr. Gottman states will help avoid the dissolution of marriage for new parents.

  1. Understand and evaluate how your identity changes as you become a parent. Making a “family” with the addition of children means that you will likely have an identity change as well.  Ensure that your partner understands the changes you are going through so that your lifestyle, values, and goals stay aligned and understood.
  2. Keep your communication open about the tensions the baby may bring.  You will find yourself in a position where you are not able to have much (if any personal time for yourself).  You may also be experiencing financial challenges due to the

It is commonly said that you should wait at least 1 year into your first child’s life before you make any other major life decisions.  This time allows you to have a perspective on how your life as a parent may be, and what needs to change in order to make things successful.

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