This is a bad news / good news kind of situation.
The bad news is that 70 percent of all couples experience a precipitous dip in marital satisfaction in the first three years of parenthood. And some couples never recover.
The good news? This is completely preventable and reversible. Science shows that, with the right tools, couples have a very high likelihood of staying happy and healthy in the midst of parenthood. The even better news? One couple (brand new parents themselves) took all those scientific tools and exercises and put them into a couples counseling app called Lasting to offer an easy, empowering way to help your relationship.
So how can you tell if your marriage is headed toward that cliff—and what can you do about it? Read on for eight warning signs to watch out for as you enter parenthood, plus expert advice from Liz Colizza, MAC, LPC, NCC, a seasoned couples and family psychotherapist and head of marriage research at Lasting, on how to not just survive but thrive in your relationship as new parents.
Signs Your Marriage Needs Help
Sign #1: When everyday conflicts explode
We all get into little tiffs now and then, but when small disagreements (for example, why didn’t you do the dishes?) cause you to snap and prompt a major fight about something entirely different (say, financial debt from 10 years ago), it’s time to pause and take a closer look at what’s happening in your relationship.
Sign #2: When you’re finding it difficult to trust your partner
In all relationships, trust can be built and broken. In fact, Lasting data suggests roughly 32 percent of married people don’t trust their partners. But the good news is that it can also be rebuilt over time. If you’re finding it difficult to trust your partner, something must have happened in (or against) your relationship that damaged the sense of support and partnership you once felt. Trust is a key factor in your relationship—especially when you’re raising a child together, because the more trust you build, the easier it is to sacrifice and compromise for each other.
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Sign #3: When you can’t forgive your partner
Don’t get us wrong—forgiveness isn’t easy, and you can’t force yourself to move past something if you’re just not ready. But if it’s been a while and you still find yourself unable to get over what your partner said or did (or didn’t do), then whatever happened is a big deal and needs more attention.
Sign #4: When you fight about the same thing over and over
Feeling stuck in conflict with your partner over the same issues is exhausting and infuriating. It can feel like you’re spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. When partners get stuck, toxic patterns of relating can form and one or both partners can slip into unhealthy communication styles. This kind of conflict erodes relationships and makes partners feel disconnected and dissatisfied.
Sign #5: When your emotional connection feels “empty”
What do we mean by that? An empty connection feels different for different people. Some report not feeling “known” by their partner. Others feel their partner doesn’t understand them or doesn’t care. However it feels to you, underneath it all is a sense that your partner is incapable or unwilling to be there for you emotionally. According to a Lasting survey of 5,000 married people, only 34 percent felt they had a healthy emotional connection in their marriage—and that percentage dropped to just 28 percent of respondents who were parents.
Sign #6: When…
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