How to Survive As a Couple After Children Arrive

At an American Association of Pastoral Counselors Conference in April 2005, Dr. John Gottman said that one of the crisis times in all marriages is when children arrive.

For some time we have been two and now we are suddenly three or more. Whether the addition is planned or unexpected changes will be required.

Some will go from a two income family to a one income, or one and a bit income. Even, if you continue as a two income that income now has to support more people and babies come with a lot of additional expenses..

One of the biggest changes is the loss of time, both as individuals and as a couple. No more spontaneous trips to the mall, restaurant, movies or other fun places. Vacations will take more planning and weekends away will be harder to manage.

Then there are the pressures to nurture healthy children so that they become healthy adults. How do we give then the best start possible and still find time for ourselves?

We go from being a couple to being a family overnight and therein, I believe, is a lot of the problem and also the solution to the problem. In order to survive the addition of children we need to maintain and nurture the couple within the family. How do we do this?

  • Set aside regular time for sharing as a couple.
  • Let each other know each day what you like about each other as people (not as parents).
  • Call each other by your names, or love names – avoid calling each other “Mom” or “Dad”, and be cautious of “endearing” terms like “baby”.
  • Make time to play as a couple. When the baby is 3 months old go back to planning dates. Three hours w week of fun as a couple will help you not only survive the arrival of children but help you to develop a healthy, growing, divorce-proof marriage in which you can become great parents and raise healthy children.