How Do Relationships and Parenthood Influence Each Other?

Do you make time to spend with your partner or is parenting all consuming?
How Do Relationships and Parenthood Influence Each Other?

Last update: 15 March, 2021

Becoming parents can be a major setback for a couple, who must adapt as a team to the new situation. It’s important to follow some simple guidelines to keep the relationship stable and not feel overwhelmed during parenthood.

For some people, parenthood is one of the most incredible life events you can experience. But this doesn’t exempt it from being a stressful event at the same time. Anything that can involve a major change in a person’s lifestyle, to some extent overwhelms their resources and causes stress.

The stress that parenthood can cause isn’t in itself negative, but it’s taxing and laborious. Because of this, the couple has to become a great team working side by side in order to enjoy all that the family has to offer.

Changes that occur

It’s inevitable that becoming parents will mean a change in the couple with respect to the previous situation. More than we thought before, becoming parents, the relationship is radically changed. In fact, the time available to each member of the couple as an individual is considerably diminished.

Therefore, having no time even for yourself, it’s very difficult to have time for the couple. Communication between the two can become scarce, as well as time for leisure and enjoyment. Suddenly, one goes from being a partner to being a “co-worker” and this, obviously, can be painful and difficult for both of you to deal with.

What’s important to consider is that this situation is finite. In other words, it won’t last forever. It’s true that life as you knew it will never be like it was before. Neither as an individual nor as a couple, since children become the top priority, even above yourself.

But it’s also true that, as the children grow up, the levels of demands decrease. Little by little, you resume your time, and your hobbies, as well as your interpersonal relationships and, in particular, the couple.

Family sitting together displaying parenthood

What’s going to happen with my partner when we become parents?

Whenever a major event in your life approaches, the best thing to do is to be realistic. This way, you’ll be more prepared to face all the changes that will come. This doesn’t mean that you should worry too much. However, it’s important to keep your feet firmly on the ground. In addition, you don’t get carried away by the idyllic messages that are usually sent to you about motherhood or fatherhood.

The first thing that’ll happen is that you’ll experience a small emotional shock. This shock will involve emotions of all kinds, both positive such as euphoria, the feeling of being in love continuously, family togetherness, etc. Then, there are others that aren’t so positive, such as confusion and sadness at times or anxiety, among others.

Getting used to parenthood

As time goes on, the couple will adapt to the new situation. However, during the baby’s first months, we may encounter certain adversities that we didn’t expect. For example, colic, inconsolable crying, sleepless nights with the consequent lack of rest, whether or not the baby gains enough weight, if the baby gets sick, etc.

All these circumstances, which, on the other hand, are normal, imply that the couple can become destabilized. Obviously, the anxiety that all this generates, together with an exhausting fatigue and lack of time together to enjoy or talk, can overwhelm the couple. They begin to argue or one of the two escapes from the situation, leaving the other in charge of everything.

It’s also good to realize that this situation has an expiration date. Knowing this allows you to exercise greater self-control when these situations arise. It’s best not to make decisions or lose control in moments of emotional heat, which you may later regret.

Little by little, when everything is on track and if you’ve overcome the previous stages, the family will be consolidated and the couple will be stronger and stronger.

What can I do in parenthood to help the couple?

To overcome the stages that we’ve discussed in the previous point, it’s important to carry out a series of recommendations or guidelines. These can help you to better cope with the situation so that the couple doesn’t suffer too much. They’re the following:

Be aware that what’s happening is normal and happens to most people

This point is essential. You shouldn’t idealize parenthood as if it were a bed of roses and you’re in wonderland, because it isn’t. Even though we see idyllic commercials on TV about diapers and formula with happy mothers or super happy fathers, that’s not total reality.

Being parents has precious moments and complicated moments, both are normal and are part of the process. You have to know how to enjoy the sweet moments, but also take control of those that aren’t so sweet.

Parenthood: know that this isn’t forever

You’ll probably miss your former life on many occasions. Nevertheless, it’s important to know that this situation will end someday. You’ll always have the role of a parent, but when you go through the initial shock, you’ll adapt to the new situation and start a new life.

Letting the other person rest

This point is crucial. Rest is extremely necessary for any human being. If you don’t allow yourselves to get enough sleep or rest, you can end up wearing yourselves out and this, in addition, will have implications for your health.

You can’t properly care for your children if you aren’t rested, healthy, and in a good mood. The couple should consider taking turns taking care of the baby while the other partner sleeps or simply rests.

Have a couple’s day once a week

At least one day a week, it’s good for the couple to enjoy each other. You can use babysitters, grandparents, day care centers, or aunts and uncles.

The objective is to refresh the mind and do alternative activities to parenthood. It’s of utmost importance to communicate, do leisure activities, have sexual relations, create a suitable climate, or do something that allows you to relax.

Feeling of guilt can appear, but it isn’t selfish to realize that you also have the right to live these moments with your partner.

Couple, with a man kissing her on the forehead.

Leisure time with other people

It’s also important not to lose contact with friends. Social support is a powerful stress buffer. Thus, meeting up with a friend helps to clear your head, talk about other topics, laugh and forget a little about the day-to-day life of parenthood.

Maintain routines

Routines aren’t only essential for children, but also for adults. In order to maintain order in the family and for the couple to have their space alone, it’s important to maintain certain routines.

It’s healthy for children to eat every day at the same time and in the same place, take a bath before bedtime and go to bed in their room at an early hour. Children need many more hours of sleep than adults, especially if they’re young. If you get them used to going to sleep early with positive routines from the beginning, the habit will be easily established.

Once they’re asleep, the couple can also have some time together. This can allow them to chat, watch TV, or just be with each other.

As you can see, parenthood is a time of major life change. In order for this change not to be too disruptive, it’s essential to cultivate time as a couple. They can also be with friends, as well as talk and rest.

As they get used to the initial shock, the couple will become more robust, more of a team. You’ll begin to enjoy family time much more, which will be the most wonderful thing you’ll have.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Belsky, J. & Rovine, M. (1990). Patterns of marital change across the transition to parenthood: Pregnancy to three years postpartum. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52(1), 5–19. doi: 10.2307/352833.
  • Boivin, J., Bunting, L., Collins, J.A. & Nygren, K.G. (2007). International estimates of infertility prevalence and treatment-seeking: potential need and demand for infertility medical care. Human Reproduction, 22(6), 1506-1512. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dem046.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.