Are children taking a toll on your marriage?
I met my wife, Rose, on snowy mountains in the USA. We were both students at the time, doing a three month work and travel experience over our summer break. Rose, from South America and myself from Africa. We were worlds apart in culture and approach to life. When we said our goodbyes, it seemed our short romance was destined to fail. The distance between our two continents seemed too great an obstacle to overcome.
Yet four years on we made a plan to meet up with each other again – this time in South Africa. Our relationship went from strength to strength and we were married three years later in Cape Town. We have since been blessed with two children, Oliver & Thomas (family photo above). Rose & I have come to appreciate the importance of working together to raise our boys. We’ve become a great team.
But the challenges of parenthood have definately taken their toll on our relationship. Between taking care of our kids and fulfilling work demands, there is very little time left for each other. And on the rare occasion that we do have time to ourselves, we usually don’t have energy left to enjoy it.
30 years worth of research confirms the toll children have on marriage. According to Professor Johnson of Binghamton University in New York, the relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along. Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples.
When it comes to parenting, there are no quick fixes. However, there are a few principles that have helped us to maintain our relationship through the tough times:
1. Rely on your support structures
We’ve all heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. It’s important for your children to develop extended relationships and this frees up time for you and your spouse. Plan time for parents, aunts, uncles and close friends to spend time with your kids.
Organise this well in advance – last minute arrangements create stress & can spoil the experience.
2. Remove distractions
Make the most of quality time. Get rid of distractions. Put away your cellphone, switch off the TV and forget about work. Be present and focus your energy on connecting.
3. Create engaging conversation
The drain of parenting can cause you and your spouse to drift apart emotionally. Share how you feel, your needs, your challenges, your victories and your defeats.
You can follow a structure to get the conversation going e.g. describe your days biggest challenge and what you were grateful for.
Life without your partner
Raising children has been our toughest life challenge thus far. Without Rose there is no way I’d be able to give my kids the emotional support they need whilst juggling the family finances.
Life cover provides the peace of mind that if something were to happen to you or your partner, the family can focus on healing – without having to worry about bills. It provides the freedom to take time off work and get the support required to get by.
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