The Key to a Happy Marriage After Baby [by Ashley LeBaron]

the key to a happy marriage after baby

Happy Marriage After Baby?

Every parent knows that a baby changes everything—including your marriage. The stats can be really discouraging if you’re hoping for a happy marriage after baby: After the birth of the first child…

marital satisfaction after baby

2/3 of couples’ marital satisfaction drops

1/6 stays about the same

But the one we don’t hear as much about? 1/6 goes up![1]

Yep! After the birth of their first child, 1 in 6 couples experience greater marital satisfaction than they did before the baby!

The Key: Love Maps

So what makes the difference? According to leading marriage researcher John Gottman: love maps.[2] In other words, how well you and your spouse know each other and what’s going on in your life—thoughts, hopes and dreams, stresses, hobbies and interests, daily successes and letdowns. All this information composes a mental love map. To have a happy marriage after baby, the love maps should be intimate, complete, and detailed; the best love maps are also being constantly updated.

couple2

This makes sense, since 70% of marital satisfaction for both husbands and wives is the quality of your friendship.[3] Love maps feed friendship and are necessary for a happy marriage after baby.

Babies, as wonderful and precious as they are, take SO MUCH time and energy. It can be all too easy for things (like your marriage) to slide. Time spent talking and kissing is replaced by time spent changing poopy diapers and catching up on much-needed sleep. If you don’t take purposeful steps to build and update your love maps, you could find yourself waking up next to someone you don’t really know.

Here are some steps you can take right now…

If you are married with children:

Set aside at least 20 minutes every day to have one-on-one time with each other with no distractions. Set aside at least 3 hours once a week for a date night: one-on-one time with no distractions. Use this time to build your love maps!

Here’s a Love Map Exercise from Gottman’s blog[4]. Taking turns answering these questions is a great way to get started!

  • Name my two closest friends.
  • What was I wearing when we first met?
  • Name one of my hobbies.
  • What stresses am I facing right now?
  • Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday.
  • What is my fondest unrealized dream?
  • What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios?
  • What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
  • What is one of my favorite ways to be soothed?
  • What is my favorite getaway place?
  • What are some of the important events coming up in my life? How do I feel about them?
  • What are some of my favorite ways to work out?
  • What would I consider my ideal job?
  • What medical problems do I worry about?
  • What was my most embarrassing moment?
  • Name one of my favorite novels/movies.
  • What is my favorite restaurant?

So…how’d you do? How well do you know your spouse??

couple

If you are married without children:

Build a foundation for your love maps now before baby comes, so it will be easier to update them after baby is here.

If you are not married:

Choose your spouse carefully! Don’t pick someone you want to spend the night with; pick someone you want to spend the years with. Also, building love maps is a great way to get to know people you’re dating.

As you build and update your love maps, you can be that 1 in 6 couple whose marital satisfaction goes up, resulting in a happy marriage after baby!

AshleyLeBaronAshley LeBaron is a Marriage, Family, and Human Development graduate student at Brigham Young University. She is preparing to be a professor and a mom. Ashley has published and presented research on topics such as emotional reconnection between spouses and how parents teach their kids about money. In her observation of families in 21 countries, she has found that family is where the greatest happiness and success is cultivated.

Sources:

[1] Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. Harmony.

[2] Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. Harmony.

[3] Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. Harmony.

[4] https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-sound-relationship-house-build-love-maps/

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