Married with ChildrenHaving kids changes everything, and this includes your marriage. Unfortunately, few couples realize how their marriage will change when a new baby comes home and how it will continue to change as their children get older.

How Does Parenting Affect Marriage?

Less Patience
Sleep deprivation, messes galore, and repeated discussions on why it's important to listen to the teacher may leave you too exhausted and cranky to gather the patience you need to talk with your spouse. Even the strongest couples find themselves snapping at each other over minor issues and forgoing pleasantries in favor of "getting it done."

Less Time
With one person (or more!) depending on you for everything from food to entertainment, you have less time for yourself and your spouse. This means fewer opportunities to relax and recharge and fewer chances to connect with your spouse and talk about your feelings and problems.

Less Sex
Between household chores and being the homeroom parent, a lack of sex may be the least of your worries. It's normal for sex to diminish after a baby's birth. It's also common for it to be an ongoing challenge as you and your spouse struggle to find a moment alone that won't be interrupted by an older child or your own thoughts about what needs to be done before the day ends.

More Cooperation
Running a household with children requires the ultimate in teamwork between you and your spouse. There's a lot of work to be done and a host of challenges that are bound to create conflict unless you each cooperate to overcome new hurdles.

Family and Opinions
Family members who were once silent may suddenly have an opinion on your life and how you should do things once you add children to the mix. Couples may not always agree on how much "help" from family is the right amount.

What You Can Do to Keep Your Marriage Strong
It's not all doom and gloom. The changes above are normal, and they won't last forever. Below are some tips that can help you to get through the rough times.

Talk to Each Other
No matter how tired you are, take a few minutes every day to share how you're feeling, discuss your problems, and listen to your spouse. It's important to keep the lines of communication open. Many books and workshops are available to help teach strategies for making your conversations effective.

Divide Up the Work
Few couples talk about who is responsible for the family chores until they find themselves resenting their spouse or arguing about doing the lion's share of the work. Before problems arise, talk about who will do what job and when.

Be Flexible
Understand that things will change, and this includes you and your spouse. When you bring people into your family, change is inevitable. Roll with the punches, even if it isn’t your style.

Enjoy Your Family
You planned your family—now's the time to relax with your spouse and grin at the life you've built together, even if it is over a pile of dirty laundry, in a van on your way to soccer practice, or next to a baby covered in cereal.

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