No one can argue with the fact that bringing a new baby into your home is a life-changing event. Most couples have high hopes for the happiness a new baby will bring, but few are prepared for the amount of stress that may follow as well.
A study of 2,000 new moms and dads found that parents who have a partner at home may have up to seven arguments a day, or 2,500 arguments in the year after their baby arrives. From who’s sleeping more to what has happened to their sex life, new parents can find plenty to argue about.
Top 20 reasons parents argue in the first year:
- Who had the least sleep / is the most tired
- Who should get up during the night with the baby
- Housework not getting done
- Having less money than usual
- One person being at work all day while the other is left alone to parent
- Who should be responsible for feeding, changing, burping the baby
- Someone not doing their fair share of the work
- One person going out and socializing more than the other
- Lack of affection
- Not having time to go out together
- One partner not putting in enough effort
- Not being able to soothe the crying baby
- Lack of sex
- Whether or not the baby should be left to cry alone
- Disagreement over relatives or in-laws getting involved
- One partner not talking to the other as much
- Pressure to have sex when you don’t want to
- One partner being bored at home alone with the baby
- Whether the baby is sick or not
- Amount the baby should eat or drink
The survey, which was created by parenting site ChannelMum.com and the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting event The Baby Show, conducted by OnePoll, revealed several other surprising statistics about the impact of all this fighting. About 30 percent of couples reported they’d sometimes go five days without speaking to each other. One fifth of new parents split up in the first year, while one in ten couples separated during their first year with a new baby but later got back together. Leading reasons for the separation ranged from “total lack of communication” to lack of sex and infidelity.
“It’s disheartening to see so many couples break up in the first 12 months of parenting—one of the most exciting times in their lives,” commented Zoë Bonser, show director at The Baby Show. “While it is a wonderful period, there’s no doubt about it, it’s stressful with the change in sleep patterns, routines and responsibilities and getting used to there being a third person around that you have to care for all the time.”
There are ways to reduce stress—and the number of arguments.
New parents face so many changes while welcoming a new baby, and lack of sleep can exacerbate even the mildest disagreement. It’s important that couples take time to recognize the huge change both parents are facing and nurture their relationship along with their new addition.
Discuss roles and responsibilities early, and make sure the load sharing feels fair to both parents. Give each other time to reconnect and recharge with friends, and take time for self care, even if you only have a few minutes here and there. Support from others can also ease stress during those early months, though only 23 percent of those surveyed asked friends or family members for help.
Reducing stress and heading off the main reasons for arguments before they become an issue can go a long way to keeping a relationship strong. Feeling that strong connection to your partner will help keep resentment and anger from taking root. Siobhan Freegard, founder of parenting site ChannelMum.com commented on the study findings by offering, “Making time for each other can be just as important as learning how to look after the baby, as happy parents will naturally result in a happy child.”