Most relationships – long term ones, that is – go through a natural progression. After a period of dating, the couple may decide to get engaged, and then married over the course of a few years. Once those milestones are out of the way, of course, the discussion often turns to having kids. While bringing a child into the world is an incredible experience that ranks up there with the greatest parts of life, it can also be incredibly damaging to the relationship that two people have built. Once kids are introduced into the equation, things change dramatically – and not always for the better.
So what is it about having kids that can quickly cause trouble in what was previously a successful and happy relationship? Well, one of the difficulties is simply the number of different ways in which having kids can lead to trouble between two adults.
The problem can’t really be pinned down to just one issue – there are many different problems that can arise. Here are 15 ways in which having kids can ruin a relationship:
1. Differences in Parenting Style
We’ll get the big one out of the way right off the top. When two people have a child for the first time, they’re both thrown into a role with which they have no experience: being a parent. You can think in advance of what kind of parent you want to be, but you don’t really know how you will feel or what you will do until you are in the moment. If two people find that they have dramatically different parenting styles – and they aren’t willing to meet in the middle – it can be trouble for a relationship.
2. Change in Priorities
As a couple with no kids, it is easy to do as you please – you can go to movies, go out with friends, go on vacation, etc. There are essentially no limits beyond time and money with regard to what you can do together. That changes when you have a child. The planning of your day to day life revolves around the needs of the child, meaning you might not get to do the same things you used to do early in your relationship.
3. Uneven Workload
If one parent feels that they’re having to do more of the work than the other parent, trouble can ensue within the relationship. Raising kids is a hard job no matter how you look at it, and a healthy relationship will require a relatively even split of duties between parents.
4. No Sleep!
In the first year of having a child, you aren’t going to get very much sleep – that’s just how it goes. While living with a lack of sleep is something that can be done on a temporary basis, it does have a way of shortening everyone’s temper. Where you might have been able to look past your partner’s little quirks when you were getting a healthy eight hours each night, you may be more irritable and ready to argue when feeling exhausted each day.
5. Money Gets Tight
In addition to a lack of sleep, a lack of money is another issue that can strain a relationship. Of course, new parents are often in a position to have to scrape by each month, as expenses like diapers, food, health care and more can all add up quite quickly. Couples who are going to be able to work through the early years of having kids are going to need to be on the same page as far as the almighty dollar is concerned.
6. Lack of Personal Time and Space
You are likely going to be spending more time together as a family when you have children. While that is a great thing for families who get along nicely, it can be trouble when there is friction in a relationship. Everyone needs their own personal time and space on occasion, so building that in to your schedule when you have kids is important.
7. Stress Exposes Cracks
If there were already any small issues within your relationship, those issues can be expanded when you are put under stress – and there is nothing quite as stressful as having children. The problems in your relationship that you were always able to work around might not be so easy to navigate once you are also feeling the stress of caring for your kids.
8. No Time for Intimacy
Sex is an important part of a healthy romantic relationship, but it is also something that just isn’t going to happen much when you have young children – particularly within the first year or so. Sure, you might be able to find time on occasion, but your sex life certainly isn’t going to be the same as it was when you were a couple without kids.
9. Loss of Adult Conversations
When you have children, you may find that you start to live in a kid-oriented world where there is a lack of adult discussion and conversation. You certainly are going to have a ton of fun playing with your kids, but you also may find that it is hard to keep up an adult relationship with your partner when everything seems to be focused on the little ones. Maintaining a healthy relationship will largely come down to how well you can continue to focus on the adult parts of your life while also caring for your children.
10. Change in Friends
You likely have a social circle that you travel in while living without kids – but that group is sure to change when you have children (and others in your circle don’t). Most likely, you will end up spending time with parents of other children that you meet through school, sports, and other avenues. While there is nothing wrong with this, it can be difficult to keep your relationship moving in the same direction as it was when you hung out with your original friends.
11. Coming Out on the Other Side
One of the hidden problems that can develop when a couple has kids is the changes that will occur during the early years of the children’s lives. For example, you may be too busy to really worry about problems in your relationship when your kids are still small and need a lot of help. However, as they age and become more self-sufficient, you may return to your relationship only to realize that you don’t really have much in common with your partner anymore.
12. Dealing With Challenges
There are going to be challenges that come along with having kids, whether those come in the form of conflicts with other kids, trouble at school, or just about anything else. How you cope with those challenges, and how you respond to them, will go a long way toward dictating how healthy your relationship remains. If each parent comes at these challenges from dramatically different points of view, trouble could be waiting around the corner.
13. Sharing Time With Family
When you have a child or two (or more), your family is likely to want to see the little ones on a somewhat regular basis. While that isn’t much of a problem throughout most of the year, it can lead to conflict around holidays and birthdays. Where are you going to spend Christmas? How about Thanksgiving? Making these choices can be harder than you would think on your relationship.
14. The Taxi Service
As your kids get older, they are going to be involved in more and more activities. Of course, they won’t yet be able to drive, so it is going to fall on you and your partner to take them from place to place. That isn’t really a big deal; however, it does eat into time that could be spent together, and it can further erode your relationship that may already be strained from other factors.
15. It’s Hard
There is no other way to put it – raising kids is hard work. It is tiring, both physically and emotionally, and there are plenty of things to come up along the way that will test your relationship. It takes a solid and steady connection between two people to be able to weather the storm that can come along with the challenge of raising children. Having kids is likely the best thing you will do with your life, and it is also the hardest thing you will do in your life.