Will a Baby Improve Your Relationship?
At one point or another, many of us experience a challenging romance, one in which we invest time and energy, pour a lot of love and, despite conflicts or compatibility issues, imagine a future of marital or family bliss. When we find ourselves in this situation, deciding to have kids with our beloved is usually dependent on a number of factors, including how well we resolve disagreements and how accepting we are of each other’s real or imagined shortcomings.
Usually. Yet, sometimes we’re so smitten, or codependent, or hopeful, or afraid there’s no one else out there for us, that we not only overlook major relationship problems and personality issues, we go a step farther. We convince ourselves that what our relationship needs, what will inspire the man or woman we love to be kinder, or more faithful, or more (fill in the blank), is to have a baby!
Having a child isn’t the only strategy we sometimes adopt to resolve relationship issues. We might decide to buy a house, lease a new car, get breast implants, etc. What these efforts have in common is the mistaken belief that external changes—buying or getting stuff, including a child—will positively impact the internal workings of our relationships or loved ones. We assume things can enhance compatibility or make our partners happier, less abusive, or whatever else we desire of them.
In truth, having a child can add to relationship fulfillment, but solely when we already have a lot of relationship positivity to draw upon. What the arrival of a baby can’t do is turn a bad relationship into a good one or alter personality traits, especially those we’d prefer someone didn’t have in the first place.
Despite our hope that a child will improve our connection, the greater likelihood is it will make matters worse. Research shows that anywhere from 66 to 90 percent of parents report a significant decline in relationship happiness after their baby is born. Those are daunting statistics for the happily coupled, never mind the unhappily so.
That’s not to say that all parents who continue to like each other after they have kids don’t have relationship issues or don’t ever find their spouses irritating. Plenty of fulfilled parents fight—actually, resolving conflicts well is crucial to relationship success—but that’s different from deciding to have a child to resolve problems or change each other.
Plus, if we have a baby for the sake of our relationships, that puts a lot of pressure on children to make us happy. We end up setting them up to fail, which is far from the bright start most of us yearn to give them.
If you’re thinking of having a baby to boost your relationship or improve your mate, consider getting help from an experienced marriage counselor or relationship coach. If your beloved won’t join you, do it yourself. Obtaining individual support is often the best way to improve our lives. Not open to therapy or life coaching? Then seek out a pastor, mentor, close friend, or family member whose counsel can help guide you.
Bottom line: We can always decide to have a baby, but doing so will never resolve our relationship issues. We can only improve our relationships and ourselves from the inside out. Following that path to parenthood offers us and our future kids the best chance for happiness, relationship or otherwise.