How Your Kids Can Ruin Your Marriage
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Tyke Troubles1 of 12
By Brett Smiley In between the joys and proud moments, the challenges of parenting can also unravel a relationship. According to family therapist, lecturer and bestselling author Michael Gurian, divergent approaches on discipline and different attitudes towards money are among the most common and potentially problematic matters in a marriage with children. Read on for his solutions.
Primal Bond2 of 12
The issue: Dad feels neglected/replaced when an infant enters the home. “Generally, the mother is the primary caregiver,” Gurian says. “I’m always counseling fathers that the mother-child bond is a natural, deeply biological bond.” Gurian urges that if a father is struggling with uneasiness or jealousy, that he goes somewhere and get help, because it’s challenging enough for a woman to manage a child’s infancy.
Different Disciplines3 of 12
The issue: One parent complains that the other disciplines a child differently or incorrectly. “Parents do parent differently,” says Gurian. “But there will be certain key areas where parents need to agree.” He advises couples to discuss how their parenting styles differ, especially their individual views on how one’s approach might be harmful to a child. Then, “Couples need to ascertain whether there’s real danger, [and which] situations require consistent parenting.”
Sex Deprived4 of 12
The issue: Children beget less intimacy. “One of the highest statistical times that a man has an affair is when a woman is pregnant,” says Gurian. “When a woman is pregnant and less available to a husband — sexually and emotionally — he [must] find other men or mentors to bond with during the normal-but-painful period.” Likewise, Gurian advises busy parents with older kids to schedule some time for intimacy. There's nothing wrong with a "sex date."
Pocketbook Issues5 of 12
The issue: Spouses butt heads on how to spend money on, and save for, the kids. “Money is a crucible for who you are and your personality type,” says Gurian. Often one spouse is a worrier and the other is not, or one saves and the other spends. Gurian says to designate a portion of the couple’s earnings as a “free-for-all,” but only as long as there's money set aside for college or emergency funds.
Break the Habit6 of 12
The issue: One parent is struggling with an addiction. Gurian treats addictions objectively. The first step is to get a parent immediate help, because addictions have serious ramifications, and they always impact the health of children. Alcoholism, for example, is a chemical imbalance, and it can’t be solved by the marriage. “Parents will need help on how to respond,” Gurian says.
Wound Up7 of 12
The issue: Raising a child creates a lack of “me” time. It’s natural to sacrifice everything for the child without “renewing” the self, says Gurian. “But every parent will feel they’ve gotten to a point where they’re going nuts.” When a parent reaches that insanity, he says they should take some time to renew, and in an intact family, the other spouse needs to help that person get some “me” time so they can come back relaxed.
Developing Problem8 of 12
The issue: Father takes the wrong approach with a girl’s physical growth, i.e., her personal attractiveness or weight. A mother and father’s different biological and social experiences create different reactions to a girl’s development, Gurian says. In a case where a doctor says a girl is overweight, a mom might try to protect a girl’s self-esteem, while a dad might take a pragmatic approach, like a healthier diet.
Duty Calls9 of 12
The Issue: All the parenting falls on the stay-at-home spouse. “If one parent is doing 100 percent of the parenting, that’s bad, but if it’s more like 80 percent because one spouse is working 60-plus hours, that’s realistic,” Gurian says. “The stay-at-home parent needs to decide three key areas they want the other spouse to handle.” For example, intervening with a teenager who’s started to smoke. Targeted parenting works well for someone with limited time.
Helicopter Parent10 of 12
The Issue: One spouse believes the other is overprotective of a young child (birth to 5 years old). “Nurture the nature,” says Gurian. “The dialogue should be: What is the personality of this child. Some children don’t need as much emotional or physical protection as other kids. That’s obvious. One parent might say the child needs more protection, while the other wants to give the more challenge. Meet somewhere in the middle.”
Boys Don’t Cry11 of 12
The Issue: Mothers and fathers expect boys to emote differently. “A mother might worry about [her son's lack of communication], to which a father might reply, ‘Yeah, but he’s 14,’ and see nothing wrong with it.” Guys are just not built to express themselves like women, quite literally, because men have testosterone and different chemistry. Fathers are often blind to emotion too, explains Gurian.
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