As an experienced couples counsellor, I have found that many people report relationship struggles when baby makes 3.
It is at this stage where various problems in the relationship start to surface, leading to the couple drifting apart, becoming depressed or in some scenarios, extra-marital affairs.
I have been taken aback at how common it is for couples to express great dissatisfaction in their marriage after having their first child together, particularly during the time when the child is first born, up until about 2-3 years of age.
If you and your partner are going through this stage of relationships struggles, take heart as you are not alone! There are numerous others who have had similar problems, but have benefitted greatly from couples therapy.
Common Areas of Relationship Struggles
Typically what happens is that once the euphoria and joy of having your first child has faded, new parents begin to realise the magnitude of their new responsibility.
This can be a very stressful and trying period for each parent; what often happens is that the mother focuses her energy and time on caring for the baby, while the father finds it difficult to be involved in the care of baby when he returns home from work.
As a result, the couple finds they have very little time left over for each other, causing relationship struggles. This might lead to any of the following:
- Lack of quality time together;
- Poor communication;
- Lack of sexual intimacy
- Frequent arguments due to fatigue;
- The husband feeling like he is second priority;
- The wife feeling like she is not supported in taking care of the child;
- Husband withdraws and spends time on other activities;
- Wife becomes isolated and depressed;
- An increased risk of extra-marital affairs.
How Couples Counselling can help
If you are having relationship struggles, one of the most important things is having good open communication with your partner. This allows for mutual understanding and diffusing any resentment that might build up over time. A trained therapist is able to facilitate this open communication, and to teach the couple how to better express themselves.
The birth of a baby can also bring underlying, unresolved conflicts in the relationship to the fore. These issues might be longstanding, and resurface under stress. A psychologist is able to help the couple to address these issues by identifying them, and giving the couple the right tools and environment to resolve these issues.
Finally, if an extra-marital affair has occurred, extensive therapeutic support is usually required, and I do strongly recommend that you seek therapy as a couple.
All couples go through stress and strain in the relationship when they have their first child. It would be very naïve to assume otherwise. If you and your partner are having relationship struggles after the arrival of your little one, please take heart – you are not alone, and there is something that you can do about. There have been many couples that have come to therapy precisely because of the stressors identified in this article. You can make a decision today with your partner to seek some help – the benefits of a happy family and marriage are definitely worth it!
Author: Joey Tai, BA (Psych) Hons, Master of Clinical Psychology.
Joey completed his Masters of Clinical Psychology where his research involved Couples Counselling. He has good experience in counselling couples who present with a variety of problems and is non-judgemental in his approach. He is also married with children and can relate easily to the experience of becoming a parent!
Please call 1800 877 924 to make an appointment or book Clinical Psychologist Joey Tai online now.