The birth of a baby is a joyous occasion in the majority of couple’s lives. However, most couples are unprepared for the demands of parenting. Every waking hour is spent feeding, changing, and tending to the needs of the baby. Parenting is challenging on your body and mind because you don’t have time to get proper sleep, eat healthy meals, exercise, socialize, or focus on keeping the home fires burning. Approximately two-thirds of couples see the quality of their relationship decline within three years of the birth of a child.
As children get older, the demands change to overseeing homework, and taking children to and from sports, ballet, music lessons, school functions, etc. You spend so much time taking care of their needs that it is easy to neglect your own. Yours and your partner’s needs take a backseat to the children. Don’t let the stress of parenthood destroy your marriage!
Get the proper amount of sleep.
Experts say that your body needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day to function at its best. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are sluggish, irritable, and less effective. It will take you twice as long to do things, you are likely to make more mistakes, and you’re prone to getting into arguments without proper rest. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Since it can take a while for your mind to calm down enough to sleep, start setting the stage for bedtime by turning off the technology at least an hour before bedtime.
Share the workload.
Parenting and taking care of the household is tough to do alone. In today’s world, both parents may work outside the home or in a home office, or one may work while the other takes care of the household. Either way, both partners need to share the responsibility for the children and the household. AS an example, one partner may decide to take care of the cooking, laundry, and daytime childcare. The other partner may agree to take care of the outdoor maintenance, garbage, and nighttime childcare. Both of you may decide to share the household cleaning once per week. Carve out some time to sit and talk and come up with an equitable division that plays to your strengths.
Plan your calendar wisely.
There are so many competing demands for your time, that you need to become very protective of your time as a family and as partners. Don’t pack your calendar so tightly with activities and events that you neglect to leave time for yourself, your family time, and your marriage. Learn to say no to invitations for friends and relatives that take up too much time. If your kid’s activities are packing the daily schedule to tightly, learn to limit the activities. Schedule a block of time for yourself every day to exercise and just unwind. Your partner should do the same. Planning helps control the chaos and reduce the stress.
Prioritize your time with your spouse.
You need to make time to enjoy being with your spouse. This is the glue that holds your marriage together. Set aside time each day to sit alone together and talk about you and your marriage. This is not time to discuss your obligations, vent or spend time on your cellphones. This is time to enjoy getting to know each other better by communicating. Every marriage needs time for intimacy and romance. Schedule a date night once a week and treat that time as sacred. Get a babysitter and go out or put the kids to bed and have a quiet evening in.
Removing the stress from a marriage with children takes both of you planning and working together. The rewards, however, are worth the effort. Your kids will have parents that are fully there, you and your spouse will enjoy your family and your relationship, and you each can breathe a sigh of relief.
“Dad, can I go spend the night at Jerry’s house?”, asks your eleven-year-old-son. “I don’t know Jerry or his parents, so I think you need to stay home tonight.” “Oh, honey, I know Jerry’s mother and they don’t live far. I think it would be alright to let him go.”, says your wife.
Does this sound familiar? Does your spouse frequently contradict you in front of the kids? Do you and your spouse argue over parenting decisions often? If you and your spouse constantly disagree on how to parent your children, resort to undermining each other’s authority, and contradicting each other’s words to your children, your marriage is in trouble.
The result of fighting over parenting is that your children end up confused about who to listen to. Each of you become ineffective parents. Your marital relationship suffers. At some point, you have got to get on the same page.
In every marriage, there will be disagreements over parenting. How you handle those disagreements makes all the difference. You need to learn how to resolve disagreements productively, calmly, and out of hearing range of the children.
Here are 5 ways to Avoid Parenting Fights
- Back Each Other Up
You and your spouse need to present yourselves as a unified team to your child, or it will undermine your authority as parents. Make it a rule that if one parent disciplines a child, the other parent must back it up, even if the other parent disagrees with the punishment. Later, you and your spouse can talk about alternate ways to handle discipline.
- Address disagreements with your spouse in private.
Every time you argue with your spouse over parenting, the focus shifts away from your child’s behavior. The more this goes on, the more your child learns that they can get around your decision by playing you against your spouse. Keep the focus on your child whenever your child is present.
- Listen to Your Spouse’s Opinion
This is not a competition. The goal is not to win the argument. The goal is to arrive at the best decision for your child and maintain harmony in your marriage. Say your 15-year-old daughter is invited to a party at a friend’s house. Your spouse is not comfortable with her going because they don’t trust the friend’s parents to supervise the party. You don’t want your daughter to be “labeled” by friends. Your spouse says, “I feel strongly about this, and I need you to support me on this. I don’t want our daughter to be put in harm’s way.” While you may not agree with your spouse, try to see their side of things, and agree to support them.
- Don’t Throw Your Spouse under the Bus
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on a parenting issue, do not tell your child that “Your Father says NO” or “Your Mother Does Not Want You to Go.” You are setting your spouse up as the Bad Guy or the Witch, while you appear to be their friend. You are avoiding hostility from your child at the expense of your spouse. Before you say anything to your child regarding a decision, discuss it thoroughly with your spouse and agree that while you don’t agree with their position, you will go along with their decision. Don’t break your rule of unity.
- Discuss Parenting Issues Calmly.
A discussion is two people exchanging ideas and listening to one another calmly and respectfully. If the conversation escalates into sarcasm, put-downs, yelling, or fighting, take a time-out from each other. Ask your spouse if you can discuss this later when you are both calm.
Remember that this is your family. Practice listening to each other’s point of view without interruption or reacting. Just listen. Then ask questions of each other. And talk about why this issue is important. Try to understand each other’s point of view and find common ground. Then ask each other “What can we do to compromise?”