With the rash of celebrity break-ups (Christina! Courteney! Elin!) come more broken homes with lots of little ones left to figure out what happened to mommy and daddy. And as we've pointed out before, a lot of those homes seem to be populated with the sippy cups and Elmo addictions that accompany toddlers.
Parenting small children is tough. Trying to keep your marriage a priority when little, adorable (yet parasitic) dependents are draining you of every last bit of energy is even tougher.
I talked to Ian Kerner, author of Love in the Time of Colic and publisher of the soon-to-be-released e-book, Sex and the Baby Years, which will launch in November. Kerner has some answers to the "Why couldn't they make it?!" wails of those disappointed by the Hollywood dream marriages and some practical advice for those of us in the trenches. The toddler trenches.
Why does it seem there are large numbers of parents of toddlers divorcing?
According to a recent study from Denver University, 90% of new parents experience a sharp decline in relationship satisfaction. The baby-years are like relationship boot-camp. Many couples survive, many don't. From stress and fatigue to being worn down by routine to the re-direction of intimacy away from each other and into the baby, couples need to learn how to prioritize their relationship above all else. In the end, we all want happy kids, but happy kids require happy parents, and happy parents maintain stable, loving relationships.
What can parents do to divorce-proof their marriage in the early days of raising children?
- Go on a date-night once a week as soon, or as close to the birth of the baby, as possible. Too many couples wait a year, even two, before going out for the first time. Big mistake.
- Have sex once a week. After the birth of a child, couples generally have to wait a couple of months before having sex again, so it's a self-imposed rut. But many couples, especially moms, lose sight of the importance of intimacy with their partners (as they're getting so much intimacy out of their relationships with their babies), but a healthy sex life keeps a couple tuned-in to each other and turned-on.
- Do your best not to co-sleep. A couple's bedroom needs to be just that, and not a family room. Co-sleeping is easy, but becomes an intrusion into the intimacy of the couple. From being able to cuddle with each other to simply having a little bit of space and separation from your baby, it's important for your child to sleep through the night in his/her own room.
How do you protect your marriage from the toddler assault?
Image via CarbonNYC/Flickr