Practice Patience: There will periods when children will overshadow your marriage. This is particularly true after the birth of a baby. Less sleep can take an enormous physical and emotional toll. There is likely to be less sex, fewer nights out, and shorter fuses. Keep reminding one another that the difficult times are temporary and you look forward to more time together in the near future. In the meantime, laugh (even at each other), hold hands as much as possible, and be patient with one another.
Recognize Signs of Trouble: While there is no definitive list of warning signs, Morgan recommends talking with your partner or a mental health professional if you notice the following:
- You feel increasingly isolated and alone. There is a palpable distance between you and your partner.
- You feel resentment and anger, even if you cannot pinpoint exactly why.
- One or both of you is spending markedly less time at home.
- You avoid eye contact. Rather than looking at each other, you and your partner gaze at the child.
- You and your partner make a habit of not going to bed at the same time (and you actually feel relieved about being alone).
- You have little or no desire for sex.
- You confide your feelings to friends or family, but not your spouse.
- You repeatedly ask yourself why you married your spouse.
Take Care of Yourself: You cannot properly care for your children or your marriage if you neglect yourself. when you're hungry, eat. If you cannot find time to take a nap, cancel an appointment and spend quiet time with the kids. Shoot for 15 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week. A vigorous walk with the stroller or working out to an exercise video work wonders. Once a week, reserve your kids' naptime for yourself. No sweeping, laundry, checking email, or scrubbing the toilet. Sleep, read a chapter of a good book, work on your novel, or call a friend to talk. Do whatever makes you feel lighter in spirit.
Ultimately, good parenting is not about putting either our children or our marriages first. It is about remembering—daily—to nurture them both. Before you know it, those kids will fly the coop. What will they leave behind: an empty nest or a couple of lovebirds?