First Aid for Marriage
By Eric Bird of Family College for Marriage Resource
There are certain major events or periods of life, which have a significant impact on a marriage.
One of the biggest of these is the birth of a child. This always changes the shape of a family. Whilst a couple without children can spend much of their time doing what pleases them, helping and supporting each other, a couple with a child find they can't. Suddenly there is a totally helpless, messy, and demanding individual making life complicated. For the next 20 years or so this person will receive much from his or her parents, but will give little back, especially in terms of emotional support, finance and practical help! This is very draining for the parents, but little can be done to ease the situation. Either parent (but more often the father) may be jealous of the attention that the child is receiving. Either parent (but more often the mother) may feel unsupported and alone with the demands of the child. Unless couples realise that this disruption to their lives is normal, and that their feelings are mirrored in other families, it can cause so much resentment that it will
contribute to breakdown or even cause the marriage to end.
What can be done about it? First of all, couples need to be realistic about the seriousness of the impact a baby makes on their relationship.. They need to talk together about the consequences for each of them and the changes they need to make - without blaming the other for the baby's existence.
Selfishness and demanding behaviour from any child are normal. It is not the
result of some major genetic defect, unique to the "other" parent! The child will benefit if the parents co-operate and provide a "united front". If the parents do not agree over discipline, the child as it grows older will learn the technique known as "divide and rule."
There are other issues besides children of course, such as painful anniversaries, bereavement, redundancy, which are best simply talked through between the couple, if only they can do it without blame or scoring points.