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When a couple welcomes a new baby into the world, their marriage can quickly slip to the back burner. Having children requires a lot of time, energy, and attention. It will completely change the life a couple once had. Therefore, couples need to be intentional about building a plan to overcome the struggles they will soon face. Doing so will ensure that their marriage will continue to grow, thrive, and stay strong in the midst of all of life’s crazy transitions. Here are some critical tips for safeguarding your marriage.

Talk about the upcoming changes.

This may sound like obvious advice, but it is the most forgotten by most couples. Before starting a family, a couple should get in the habit of intentional conversation. That means discussing more than just what the nursey should be painted or which type of stroller to buy. The conversations need to be deeper and have a purpose. Topics can include: “What do the rolls of mom and dad mean to you?”, “How do we think this will shift our priorities?”, or “What are your expectations of our marriage as it relates to a family?” These meaningful conversations, where you share your hopes and fears, need to continue long after the baby is born. As your life changes, it is crucial to communicate with your spouse openly and honestly.

Set a schedule to spend time together.

When children come into your life, it is easy to want to give you full, undivided attention to them at all time. Your children want to steal all your time, and likely do not care if that means sacrificing personal time with your spouse. As expensive as childcare or babysitters are, it makes sense that many couples slip into a pattern where date nights no longer exist, and alone time is out the window. But to safeguard your marriage, you must be intentional about carving out time for your relationship. This does not always have to be huge extravaganzas or vacations; even a simple 30-minute walk together each day or a monthly date can work wonders. It would help if you learned early on to prioritize time together without the kids around.

Lower your expectations.

It might sound depressing to say, but both spouses must lower their standards. Before having children, couples have all the time and money in the world to spend together, get dolled up to go on nice dates, and have fun whenever they want. Parenthood changes all of that. Stress levels rise, self-care gets put on the back burner, and the relationship will likely suffer more fights or distance. There will be no more nights of endless movie binges on the couch without interruption.  These things are inevitable to some extent, so each spouse must remember that these changes are expected. By lowering expectations of each other, you give your spouse space to process all the changes and emotions they are going through safely. Eventually, you both will work through it.

Create a budget.

One of the most common marital problems is finances. Before having children, create a monthly budget and stick to it. Review it each month and make changes as necessary to meet your 1-, 5-, 10- or 20-year goals. Every parent wants to buy their children the best of the best when it comes to toys, clothing, and more, but resist the urge to spend past your means. It will only cause fights between you and your spouse later when that money could have been spent elsewhere.

Discuss parenting styles.

You and your spouse may have wildly different views on how to raise a child, and much of that extends from how you were raised as a child. Talk openly with your spouse about the opinions you have on things like discipline, structure, and the like. Make it a goal to compromise with your spouse on different topics so that both of you feel comfortable in actions being taken. These conversations are likely to pop up throughout a child’s life, so starting them early will give you a great foundation to learn from.

Develop a support system.

Before you dive into the world of parenthood, make sure you have a reliable support system around you to help. Your marriage will fare much better when you have additional help from friends, family, or your community. This is also an important part of curtailing postpartum depression. Ask your friends to bring in lunch a few times a week the first month after the baby comes or hire someone to clean your house if you have the means. These small chores save a lot of time and help so that spouses do not have to lean on each other for every little thing. It could even give you time to sleep in a bed together again.

Becoming parents is a massive step for any couple. It can be scary to think about what harm a new baby could do to your marriage, but you can prepare for the changes and have an action plan to overcome them. Things will not always be easy, but with love, hard work, and dedication, your marriage will not only survive but will thrive.

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