Sometimes the addition of kids can lead to marriage problems that you may not have expected. It’s a common experience: You had a wonderfully romantic relationship -then you add kids to the mix and everything’s a little more stressful, less romantic, and less satisfying.

Challenges of Marriages with Children
The hard truth is that a large proportion of people find that children create a significant amount of stress in their relationship, particularly when the kids are young.
This dip in happiness doesn’t go away until after children leave the nest, and by that time, many couples have divorced or drifted apart. Here are some more specifics:
Children add stress to a marriage and marital satisfaction decreases sharply when kids become part of the relationship. Interestingly, this also happens to unmarried couples, so marriage itself is not the culprit in relationships that go stale.
Children create stress for parents as individuals, as well as the couple as a unit. Perhaps not surprisingly, mothers take on the lion’s share of childcare in most relationships. Also not surprisingly, this stress hits mothers in particular pretty hard.
Most women’s other relationships deteriorate to a degree as their bond with their children grows stronger.
The stress of children is universal. It’s not isolated to certain social classes or even to specific countries or regions of the world.

Stressors for parents
Many factors go into this dip in satisfaction, and they are not the same for everyone. However, certain stressors are particularly taxing on a relationship and an individual. The following stressors are particularly challenging.

Less Time Together
Because of the intensive caretaking required and the fact that any alone time that occurs during the baby’s waking hours requires the use of a sitter, couples naturally find themselves with less time to spend together. They usually have less energy to devote to one another when they do find the time as well.

Less Time Solo
Having kids often means that parents have less time to spend on themselves. This can mean less time for things like travel and hobbies, but also basic self-care including fitness and relaxation.
When parents have too little sleep and too little time to take care of their own needs (as often happens with a new baby or a high-needs toddler), they can become more stressed and difficult to be around.

More Demands on the Partnership
When a child enters the relationship, couples need to divide up responsibilities in caretaking, even if both agree that the bulk of the work should fall on the shoulders of one parent while the other focuses more on earning money.
This can lead to a feeling that the couple is more of a functional partnership than a romantic partnership as couples begin to feel a little more like roommates than soul mates.

Special Circumstances
Not everyone experiences the following challenges, but they can put a particular strain on a family. These are special circumstances that create significant additional stress:
A child with a high-needs temperament
A family member with health challenges, including physical and mental health issues

Extreme financial strain
A lack of practical support from friends, family, or neighbours who can offer assistance

What Children Add to a Marriage
The good news is that having children is worth the effort in other ways.

Children enhance our altruism: Giving to others and expressing altruism is beneficial for our overall wellbeing, and having children certainly provides opportunities to give of ourselves.
Children reduce the likelihood of divorce: This may be because they are more motivated to keep their partnership together for the sake of their children, but the increased commitment can help them weather the challenges they face and maintain their connection until happier times return.
Parents themselves say it’s worth it: While these challenges can be difficult for a couple to face, virtually all parents say the sacrifices they make are worth it and they couldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) imagine their lives without their kids. They say their children bring their life meaning.

Coping with Post-Kids Marriage Problems
If you’re feeling stressed or that there is some strain on your relationship, you’re not alone and you’re not necessarily doing something wrong. There are many things you can and should do to safeguard your happiness and your connection to your partner.

Find Social Support
Your partner isn’t the only one who can help you to increase your relationship bliss. Family members, friends, and even people you hire can help you to stress less and enjoy your time together more. Here are some ideas to keep things happier.

  • Spend time with your partner and do things together without your children.
  • Get support from people like friends, parents, family members, or neighbours.
  • Create an emotional support system where you can talk about difficult aspects of parenting and marriage.
  • Find ways to minimize social stress, such as competitive parents, unsolicited advice, or your tendency for social comparison.

Practice Self Care
It is important for you to take care of yourself and your own needs, and not just those of your children. It’s important to keep your body in good health so you have the physical and emotional stamina to do what needs to be done.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, even if it means asking someone to watch your kids so you can take a nap.
  • Eat balanced, nutritious meals. Find some time for yourself whenever possible.
  • Set aside time to do nothing if you can, but even running errands alone can help.
  • Spend time pursuing hobbies or interests that you love, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day.

Work on Maintaining Balance
Here are some important forms of balance to focus on.

  • Create a balance of kids’ activities, your activities, downtime, and sleep time.
  • Do enough fun things to create memories, but not so many that you feel overwhelmed—be honest with yourself about where you stand.
  • Eliminate tolerations when possible, find help when possible, and be present when possible.

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