Having kids can strain relationships due to lack of time, shifting priorities, differing parenting styles, financial stress, old-fashioned gender roles, and changes in your sex life. To address unhappiness in your relationship, acknowledge your feelings, communicate with your partner, prioritise time together, tackle inequalities, focus on positives, practice self-care, and consider seeking professional help. Addressing issues can help you rediscover happiness together and strengthen your relationship.
Unhappy Relationship After Having Kids? Here’s Why – And What To Do About It
Having children together can be an incredible experiencer a couple, and it can also put a strain on your relationship. If you’re feeling unhappy in your relationship after having children, you’re not alone. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why you might be feeling unhappy in your relationship since becoming parents – and what to do about it to work on your relationship and get back to enjoying each other.
1. Lack of time and energy
Parenting is a demanding role – much more demanding than many of us anticipate! – which requires a lot of time and energy. This leaves many couples feeling exhausted and depleted. With less time for yourselves and your relationship, you might struggle to connect as a couple, and to find time to do the things you enjoyed – and which filled you up – before you had children.
2. Shifting priorities
Since having kids, some of your priorities have probably changed. You might find yourself more focused on your children’s needs and activities, leaving less time and energy for yourself or your relationship. This shift in priorities can leave you and your partner feeling disconnected, and maybe even neglected by each other.
3. Differences in parenting styles
Parenting can be a source of conflict for many couples. You and your partner might have different approaches to parenting, which can lead to tension and disagreements. These differences can make it challenging to work together as a team, and may leave you feeling unsupported and frustrated.
4. Financial stress
Raising kids can be expensive, and financial stress can put a strain on your relationship. You and your partner might argue about money, or feel overwhelmed by the financial demands of parenting. You might disagree about what’s most important when it comes to spending, which can highlight uncomfortable differences in your values.
5. Old-fashioned gender roles
Before children come along, most couples live relatively similar, often quite independent lives. After kids, many straight couples slip into traditional gender roles, with mums’ lives often changing much more than dads’. This can lead to disconnection and resentment, and couples often get stuck in cycles of criticism and defensiveness.
6. Changes in your sex life
Having children can bring physical and emotional changes that affect your sex life. Many mothers experience physical changes after childbirth and while breastfeeding, and the demands of parenting can make it difficult to find time for intimacy. This can leave you feeling disconnected, frustrated, and unfulfilled.
What To Do About It If You Feel Unhappy In Your Relationship After Having Kids
For all of the reasons above, having kids often puts a strain on relationships – despite its rewards. With the added stress and responsibility that comes with raising children, lots of couples experience difficulties in their relationships. If you’re feeling unhappy in your relationship after having kids, it’s important to address these feelings before they get worse. Here are some steps you can take to work on your relationship and rediscover your happiness together.
1. Acknowledge your feelings
The first step to addressing your unhappiness is to acknowledge your feelings. Please know that it’s very common to feel unhappy in a relationship after having kids, and it doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. Take the time to reflect on what’s causing your unhappiness – this is the first step to making the changes you need.
2. Talk to your partner
Communication is key in any relationship, and improving your communication skills can transform yours. If you’re feeling unhappy, it’s important to talk to your partner about your feelings. Be honest and open, and try to have a constructive conversation about what changes you’d like to see. Remember to listen to your partner’s perspective with the same compassion and curiosity you want from them.
3. Make time for each other
With all the extra responsibilities on your plate now you’re raising kids, it’s easy to let making time for each other slip down your list. However, we show what matters to us through how we spend our time. Prioritise your partner by planning time together without screens: at-home date nights; a weekend away when you can; or even just talking while you walk together. Making time for each other can help strengthen your connection and improve your happiness.
4. Address Inequalities
Old-fashioned gender roles are one of the leading causes of dissatisfaction in relationships after kids. If you’re unhappy with the roles you’ve slipped into, sooner or later you’ll become unhappy with your partner. Have regular conversations about who’s doing what, and how you both feel about it. See my free 7-step action plan out of resentment for more on this.
5. Focus on the positives
When you’re feeling unhappy, you’ll naturally focus more on the negatives. To feel happier in your relationship, it’s important to remember the positive aspects. Make it a habit to appreciate the good things your partner brings to your life and express your gratitude for them. The Gottmans have found that happy couples say twenty positive things for every one negative, so keep working on your ratio.
6. Take care of yourself
It’s extra important to take care of yourself when you’re feeling unhappy. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep (or at least rest), fibre (huge link with mental health!), time outside, exercise (just walking is great), and time to connect with people you love outside your nuclear family. The better you take care of yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to address difficulties in your relationship.
7. Seek professional help
Sometimes it can be difficult to work through issues on your own. If you’re struggling to address your unhappiness, consider seeking professional help. Couples counselling or relationship coaching can help you and your partner work through your difficulties. You can also work with me on your own to improve your wellbeing and work on your relationship satisfaction from your side.
Feeling unhappy in a relationship after having kids is a common experience; in fact, the Gottmans have found that two-thirds of couples report a decline in relationship satisfaction in the first three years after becoming parents.
It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and communicate with your partner. Making time for each other, focusing on the positives, and taking care of yourself can all help improve your happiness in your relationship. Often the best thing to do is to get some professional help to work on your relationship so you can find happiness together again.
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