Managing the impact of children on a marriage

john_makumbe_familyChildren are a blessing from the Lord, and every couple desires to have offspring. (Pictured: John Makumbe)

Yet the birth of the first child can derail a couple for a while. Researchers tell us that the temperament of a healthy baby has a significant impact, and can contribute towards depression, marital conflict, and general family stress. We need to remember that life is a rocky road with lots of hills and valleys. In Zimbabwe we would say life is a rough road with lots of potholes. It is a bumpy drive, but it is important to deliberately enjoy the scenery and the peaceful times on the trip. Seasoned parents can provide a few tips to younger couples to enable them to cope with this necessary but highly demanding phenomenon.

Rough times

It is important to try and learn from the rough times. Treasure every experience that you go through and learn something from it. As a couple, it is sometimes necessary to critique but not to criticise each other, and evaluate your progress as you go along. Build each other up rather than knock each other down when mistakes have been made. Remember, no one is ever born a parent; we are all born children and so we do not need to learn how to be children. But we all have to learn how to be parents. Give each other a break from looking after the baby, otherwise you will burn out. When Virginia and I had our first child, I used to take over the baby as soon as I got back from work in order to give my wife a break. She found this very useful as she really needed the break. I would do everything except breastfeed the baby.

You also need to protect your marriage partnership at this time. You need each other more at this time. It is not the time for the husband to go gallivanting and leaving the wife to look after the baby all by herself. Try to maintain a sense of humour. It is sanity saving device. Talk to the baby as well as to each other while avoiding petty quarrels at this time. If possible, join a support group. There is nothing like meeting with others who have been there. I remember my wife being shown how to wash the babys ears, and when she checked our baby she was shocked to find out that there was a lot of dirt around her ears.

Praying parent

Remember that children are not permanent components of your marriage but are visitors. They are not parties to the contract signed between the two of you. Sooner or later they will leave the two of you alone and go and make their own families. So try and avoid hanging too much of your marriage baggage on them. They are not a solution to whatever difficult situations that you may be experiencing. In this regard, avoid using the baby or children as buffer zones or excuses for not dealing with some of the issues in your marriage that need handling. Nothing beats the power of a praying parent when it comes to raising children. We need to pray for our children from before they are even born. We need to prophesy over them and to speak good things about them. We need to surround them with goodness rather than anger. In the final analysis, it is God who is able to keep them, deliver them, and deal with the m as individuals. Whatever happens, do not give up, never give up, never, never, never ever give up.

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