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婚姻輔導系列 生孩子後才是婚姻真正的考驗 避免教養衝突 夫妻互相支持

Real challenge to a marriage starts with the birth of your children

The Real Test of Marriage Starts After the Birth of a Child

Couples Should Mutually Support Each Other to Avoid Parenting Conflicts

Many loving couples experience strain on their marriage after the birth of a child. As their life begins to revolve around their newborn, they may feel that their spouse has become a different person. Other than their child, a couple may have nothing in common to talk about and hence starts to drift apart. Gradually, they may feel that they are living like “housemates”. While a child is the apple of its parents’ eyes, it can also be a threatening “third-party”, especially when the parent-child relationship overtakes a couple’s relationship in terms of importance.

All parents would like to bestow their children, their treasured darlings, with the best they have. However, has it ever occurred to us that the best gift for our child/children is an intimate, healthy relationship between oneself and one’s spouse?

The establishment of a close intimate family hinges on a loving relationship between a husband and wife. This leads to a harmonious family life and flourishing children who are loving, and embody the qualities of gratitude and willingness to share things with others. According to the Attachment Theory in Psychology, children who feel secure are likely to be more proactive,  and possess the courage and confidence to explore new things. They are also emotionally more stable and optimistic and able to form positive relationships with others. Children from loving families tend to be more sensible, considerate, accomodating, and good-tempered. Furthermore, a harmonious family can have a positive influence on children’s behaviour and ways of communicating, and enabling them to better understand and trust themselves and others.

Differences in Parenting Style can Lead to Conflicts

 Many couples can put up with their spouse’s shortcomings before the birth of their child. But when they become parents, these shortcomings are often magnified. For example, a wife may argue with her husband as she thinks that his excessive playing of video games is a bad example for their children. Or, a husband may criticise his wife for being sloppy at doing housework, claiming that their daughter will thus mirror this behaviour.

Our family of origin strongly influences our lives. It shapes how we are educated, how we view ourselves and our parents, our lifestyles and values, etc. Before having a child, a couple may be able to accommodate their differences. Once they become parents, their parenting styles may differ due to their different family upbringings and influences. Such difference can lead to tensions, triggering disputes and conflicts between them.

Enhancing Family Bliss Through Mutual Support

To become good parents, a couple must first understand themselves well, and work on their inner conflicts, needs, and wants. They must also provide mutual support to one another. To do so, they have to first learn to listen, paying attention to each other’s complaints and feelings. Next, they should learn to be supportive of one another in times of need. Parenting is challenging and there will be times when we may feel discouraged or fearful. Examples of such instances include being worried about finances or concerned about issues on intimacy. These compelling concerns can exacerbate any pre-existing anxieties that may stem from own childhood experiences and extend to anxiety over their children,  causing further emotional distress. When a couple is open in their communications and understand each other’s fear or their shared common fears, conflicts can thus be avoided. This paves the way for them to work together to be good parents.

Just as our family of origin is important to us, we, being the primary family members of our children, are thus important in shaping their development. To offer the best to our children, we should make the efforts to learn and understand how to get along well with our spouses. If need to, make the necessary adjustments and work together towards a more blissful family life.

Four Childhood Attachment Styles:

  1. Secure: Views ownself and others positively; is self-confident and has confidence in others, optimistic, proactive, and appropriately dependent on others and not afraid of being relied on. 
  2. Avoidant: Views ownself positively but others negatively; is overly controlling, withdrawn, and does not trust others; tends to avoid social interaction and does not let others get close.
  3. Anxious: Views ownself negatively but others positively; long for love but afraid of being abandoned; is overly sensitive and gets hurt easily; others often complain that such child is overly dependent on others and does not give others space.
  4. Disorganised: Views ownself and others negatively; long for love but is fearful, and unable to trust anyone.

(It is best to consult a professional on ways to manage your child if his or her attachment style type 2, 3, or 4.)

The Companions
Chloe Cheung
Counsellor