If one of your reasons to have a kid is to save your marriage, you’re going to learn quickly that you’ve likely just doomed a new human to a life of tension and sadness. Consider a study from the American Psychological Association which found that 67 percent of couples see marriage satisfaction tank after the kid is born. That’s at least 17 percent more than couples who split over which way the toilet paper roll goes (towards the front, end debate).
What’s Your Issue?
So why does the marriage get a right hook when the baby arrives? The reasons are varied but often include:
- Differing Parenting Philosophies: She wants the kid to cry it out. You want to co-sleep. She subscribes to the let it bleed philosophy. You prefer attachment parenting, but agree she knows her Stones albums.
- Communication Struggles: The bickering and blame isn’t going to be fixed when a baby arrives. It’s hilarious anyone would think that. Also, remember anytime you point a finger there are 3 pointing right back at you … and a thumb that’s all, “My name’s Paul and this is between ya’ll.”
- Unfair Labor Distribution: Ever heard of a game called midnight chicken? It’s when you both pretend to be deaf when the baby cries until someone is all, “Fine-uh!” It’s a bad sign. But at least better than Midnight Vultures, which is when Beck jumped the shark.
Fix It Now
So maybe you don’t feel confident about how the relationship is going to go down before the kid gets here. Maybe you dread the thought of slogging through early parenthood before trying to decide if your really do need marriage counseling. Lucky for you, you can get out in front of it with pre-baby counseling.
Pre-baby counseling can come in a couple of different forms. One outfit in Chicago sells a block of sessions that bridge the prenatal and postnatal periods. It is a bit pricey at $500 a pop, but you were probably just going to spend that on something silly anyway. Like a German-crafted, wooden, BPA-free baby-mobile that will distract your kid for between 7 and 12 minutes.
There is another (less pricey) pre-baby counseling workshop. It’s used by a smattering of counselors across the U.S. who are certified in the curriculum. This program was developed to focus specifically on issues of communication. It also places emphasis on a process of constantly learning new and interesting things about your partner by asking questions like, “Who are your main enemies and allies at work?” And then, presumably you teach her what you learned about what is best in life from Conan The Barbarian — i.e. crushing enemies, etc.
The key is to get on the same page and deepen your relationship now, before the kid gets here. You might be able to keep that love going for a full 18 years. Then you can resume your epic toilet paper roll feud.