An op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled Till Children Do Us Part, suggests that being a parent can be hazardous to marriage.
“Over the past two decades many researchers have concluded that 3’s a crowd when it comes to marital satisfaction. More than 25 separate studies have established that marital quality drops, often quite steeply, after the transition to parenthood.”
It is not surprising studies have shown that the arrival of children can create a degree of strain on the marriage. Every parent understands that phenomenon. Children are not simply an addendum to the marital relationship. They reconstruct family dynamics.
Most couples are prepared for the actual childbirth and are unprepared for the demands of being a parent. With the lack of preparation comes worry and stress – two lethal components in a relationship. Furthermore, new relationships are being forged between husband and wife, parent and child – relationships that demand time and effort.
In light of these challenges it is important for Mom and Dad to commit time and energy to child-rearing AND to the marriage. Don’t be lulled into complacency if work and other aspects of life are going well.
Here are some practical suggestions:
• Schedule regular times to talk — an official meeting once a week or once a month.
• Purpose to have conversations with one another during each day. Do not let the kids continually interrupt.
• Go to bed at the same time each night. This provides another opportunity to talk.
• Plan an overnight getaway once a year. Moms, don’t stress. A substitute can do the job for 24 hours. That time away will benefit your children.
• Attend a marriage conference. You’ll have time alone and you’ll learn, learn, learn.
• Make a list of the things you appreciate about your spouse and refer to it often – put it in your journal.
• Be in community with other Christian couples – especially ones who can relate to your situations and who model Christ-like responses to the stresses of marriage and parenting.
Perhaps the most important take-away: A Christ-centered marriage is the best basis for raising children. A child-centered marriage is not. A healthy marriage gives your children the security they need to thrive in this world.