You always wanted to have a baby, and now you have one, but you dislike your spouse.
Research on marital satisfaction suggests that having children reduces happiness between spouses.
Studies indicate that during their first year of childbirth, new parents often experience unpleasant thoughts about their partners.
Apart from exhaustion and lack of sleep, why does this happen?
1. Women bear the grunt of housekeeping and childcare
Studies have shown that mothers provide more child care than fathers do, whether or not they are working mothers.
Mothers tend to face higher levels of marital dissatisfaction after having children due to additional responsibilities such as caring for the children, working and carrying out household chores. This leads them to perceive their marriages as one-sided and unfair.
2. Lack of sex
Another reason for marital dissatisfaction might be the lack of sex and intimacy. After childbirth, the sexual life of a married couple usually hits the roof. Though women can have sex six weeks after childbirth, they may not be ready for penetrative sex for up to a year. It takes time to adjust to a new body, routine, and baby.
Women who just gave birth and are still breastfeeding need time to heal. They also experience vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels.
3. Overbearing mothers
Some mothers manage their spouses’ interactions with their kids because they believe they are better parents; this can cause resentment in their husbands. This practice is known as “maternal gatekeeping” by sociologists.
For childcare responsibilities to be evenly distributed, mothers need to allow fathers to handle tasks their way, even if it differs from their approach, as long as the child’s safety is not compromised.
How to have happier marriages
Parental responsibilities and child care should be divided in a way that seems fair, not equal.
For instance, if one partner works longer than the other, they will likely spend fewer hours on tasks relating to the home and children. However, it is more important than household chores and parental responsibilities to be split between the two of them, no matter who works more. For example, the person who bathes the baby shouldn’t be the same person who makes breakfast.
While penetrative sex is important, there are many other ways to be intimate with your partner if they aren’t ready for sex after childbirth. Kissing, cuddling, holding hands, hugging, touching, fondling, and sucking are ways to establish intimacy. What are your partner’s erogenous zones or sexual needs? Plus, are you listening to your partner’s non-sexual needs? Do whatever it takes to keep the sexual spark burning.