Divorces are happening before one of your kids turns 2
In the beginning of your relationship, there are a couple of phases that are super critical for the chance of having a long-lasting relationship.
The first phase is when you move in with each other. In this phase, you learn more about yourself and about your partner than in all the months or years of dating before.
No longer can you now ignore the un-tidiness of your partner nor the way they like to organise things. During your time of dating, that might have been a small annoyance – now it is visible in plain sight.
And even more crucial than tidiness or organisational talents is the way your partner handles money.
Because moving in with each other is – even in the 21st century – also an economic decision. A major part of your living costs (rent, groceries, and insurances) are now shared.
The second big change in both of your lives is when you fall pregnant and you both slowly realise that his life will never be the same.
Until then, everything you did in your life was reversible. Moving to a different city? You can move back if it doesn’t work out. Starting a job? You can switch to another if need be. Dating or falling in love with the wrong partner? You could break up and search for a new one.
Becoming a parent is a life-long responsibility and joy. You can’t give it back to where it came from.
For men especially, this change can be very daunting.
They not only need to come to terms with their new role and that there is little creature totally depending on them, men also need to accept that their partner might have changed during the process of becoming a mum.
Maybe the pregnancy was not all fun? Maybe she gained more weight than she ever thought possible and does not like her body? Maybe breast feeding does hurt? Maybe the delivery of the baby took endless hours and she needs weeks to recover?
All this time he watches in bewilderment because he does not know what is going on.
A new born baby has an influence of everything in your normal life.
Less sleep, less sex, less freedom to do what you want.
And if men don’t embrace the role of being a father, they may struggle with the loss of freedom, sex and sleep big time.
For some relationships, that might be enough pressure and change to have you both reaching breaking point already.
It might not be an immediate knowing of something not feeling the same, it might not necessarily happen in the first six months. It’s all brand new and both partners may hope that the changes will calm down and everything will back to normal.
In some cases, that is exactly what happens. The baby starts to sleep more and more hours at a time and that gives you both back the sleep and the chance for more sex. Your freedom is still limited but that is starting to feel okay.
Let’s now look at the next crucial phase in your young relationship: the second child.
You both thought, how can this be different? We managed the first one. Let’s have another one – it can’t have that much of an impact.
We thought the same when our first born was only eight or nine months old, we decided to have a second child. My wife fell pregnant immediately – and then everything was different.
Your second pregnancy might be different, but your sleep and sex life will undoubtedly be affected again during this time.
Then the delivery of the second child might be more complicated than the first one and leave more scars – physically and mentally.
So again you work through the phase with less sleep and hardly any sex.
This time around it is even more complicated because the first-born child demands your time and attention too. And rightly so.
You both now have to juggle the interrupted nights, the new baby, the first born child, the work, the daily chores around the house and at the same time you both want time for yourselves and time and opportunity for fulfilling sex.
And for a lot of couples, this burden is too much.
And after six, nine or twelve months, one or both of you may be at the point of a breakdown. What follows are heated arguments and fights.
Until you realise – this can’t go on like this and you file for divorce. Your youngest child still under two years of age.
What could you do?
This all comes back to communication and awareness.
What I suggest to my clients to do is what I call the 168-hour challenge.
Each week we have 168 hours available. Just make a list or pie chart like the one above where you sum up all the hours in a week you spend working, sleeping, cooking and so on.
As a rule of thumb, your work takes up one third of your day and sleep takes up one third as well. In other words, that leaves you with only 56 hours per week for everything else you need to achieve.
Once both of you have allocated your 168 hours of time, you can now compare the two charts.
Every time I do this with my clients, they have a huge ‘aha’ moment. When you compare both your time-charts, you will immediately see that they are completely different after the children are born.
What becomes most obvious to many people here is that there is no me-time anymore once the babies have arrived.
But you need time for yourselves. You need to have the chance to centre yourself and respect and love yourself.
You can only give what you have yourself.
If the pregnancies and the care for your young babies affected your respect or love for yourself – how are you supposed to love your partner and show respect?
This is the first step – the awareness.
Now that you have the facts and the data in plain sight, you can talk about this with less emotion.
From awareness you then can start to communicate and express how you would like things to change to create the relationship and the parenting style you both want.
Talking about your emotions, wants and aspirations is so much easier when it’s done outside of your day to day life and in a safe environment.
That’s what my coaching provides. The safe space for you to create the loving, intimate and respectful relationship you both deserve.