Always strive to give your spouse the very best of yourself; not what’s left over after you have given your best to everyone else.
Adding a child to the family is the happiest of occasions. You feel bonded as you meet the tiny, perfect representation of your love. However, adjusting to the baby—or to the second or third baby—can be less thrilling. Women’s bodies change; maternal instincts come on strong. Exhaustion and a strong sense of parental responsibility can mean sex is a distant memory. Men may feel shut out, a stranger on the fringes of the mother/child bond. Is it time for parenting and marriage counseling?
Many couples struggle to regain their rhythm after baby changes the dynamic, but this isa make or break time in marriage. It’s crucial for couples to prioritize their bond during the parenting years. The recipe for secure family life calls for putting the marriage bond first, with children falling under that umbrella of love and safety. When Mom and Dad are warm and responsive to each other, children can relax, enveloped in the love that permeates the home.
Putting marriage before parenthood may seem counter intuitive. As we welcome children, we vow to be the best parent possible, to give our kids what we never had. Problems arise, however, when we think this vow means putting the children before the spouse. Such an approach disrupts the God-given structure of the family: parents as the unconditional dyad, children under their protection and authority.
When partners lose each other, they often place inappropriate expectations on their children to meet their needs for affection and companionship—needs that are meant to be filled by a spouse. A child may sense the parent’s reliance on him and take on feelings of obligation and responsibility that are beyond his scope.
Have you lost each other to the demands of parenting? Does one spouse feel shut out of the bond the rest of the family shares? Do you go weeks without sex because all energy is put into the care of children or because the boundaries between parent and child are weak? Marriage counseling can help you find each other again. You are meant to be on the same team, to cheer each other on and rely on each other during the child-rearing years.
Parenting approach can be another area of discord as each partner defers to their own family of origin’s style of parenting. It can seem like parenting philosophy is at the heart of the matter, but the root of discord is actually the sense of disconnection. Once the marriage is restored, partners find it easier to see eye to eye on family issues and can develop a cohesive parenting approach that is best for all.
Once you’re ready to examine your approach to parenting, you may be interested in the parenting classes I offer in my Woodstock office. These classes are based on the Positive Discipline approach to parenting.
Jennifer is a wife and mother who has walked through many of the struggles she sees in her office. She connects with empathy as she guides clients through the strong emotions that so often accompany family life. She knows what it means to feel stuck between how you thought life would be and how it currently is. If you are near Woodstock and need marriage or parenting counseling, call for a consult today.