At Peace With Your Spouse
By Julia Tolliver Maranan
Every couple has disagreements, but having children presents new challenges. John W. Jacobs, MD, a psychiatrist and couples therapist in New York City and author of All You Need Is Love and Other Lies About Marriage (HarperCollins) offers insight into the most common sources of conflict for new parents and explains the best way to resolve them.
Time and energy
Children require an enormous amount of time and energy, and both you and your husband may feel like you're not getting enough help from each other. Unmet expectations often lead to tremendous disappointment and resentment. To diffuse this tension, talk openly about the division of labor and look for solutions that work for both of you. "You're solving a problem of limited resources. Sometimes...you have to make sacrifices you never wanted to make," says Jacobs. That may mean giving up some social activities or working fewer hours. Recognize the limits of what you can do comfortably, and ask for help (from each other or others) with the rest.
Lack of sleep and energy can wreak havoc on your libido. And men often feel displaced, unimportant, and desexualized by their wives' focus on the children, Jacobs says. Talk it through openly and try to identify the underlying issues. Stress saps desire, so look for ways to lighten your loads. If your husband feels neglected, set aside time daily for the two of you, whether you play a game while the baby naps or set Junior in the pack 'n play and cook dinner together.
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