Every couple should have a child

Relationship: This is how parents stay lovers

Couples usually underestimate the task

"The first year with a child is an extremely difficult time," says Barbara Reichle, former professor of developmental psychology at the Ludwigsburg University of Education. "Your whole life is turned upside down. You are no longer self-determined, but controlled by others. Much is unknown, planning is hardly possible at first. The different needs of three people have to be reconciled." Problems are inevitable. For many things, the pleasure principle no longer applies, a number of tasks simply have to be done - even those that are unattractive, are not paid or rewarded. "The central question is: who has to do what, when, how often and how much? The redistribution of priorities and duties and the coordination of the changed everyday life place high demands on couples," the expert knows from her many years of research on the subject. She has found time and again: Both partners clearly underestimate in advance how much strength and time a baby requires. And almost everyone expects more from the other than they are initially prepared to do themselves.

Sharing tasks fairly avoids disputes

So that starting a family does not end in a constant dispute, the division of the time cake should be negotiated with each other at an early stage: work, household, childcare, hobbies, time for two, sleep. Some things have to be cut down or postponed until later. It is important that both are constructively looking for solutions and a fair balance. Rich tip: Each partner should divide their own time and that of the other into pieces of a cake. Then a comparison is made and an attempt is made to find a solution together.

Many slip back into classic roles

A crucial point here: talk about the distribution of roles. Both partners are usually fully employed until the first child is born. Now it is time to decide: Who stays at home when and how long and takes care of the offspring? According to the father report by the Ministry of Family Affairs, around 35 percent of new fathers took parental leave in 2015, 58 percent of them only took a minimum of two months. Experts are still observing a slide back into the classic roles as soon as children come: Dad earns the money, Mum takes care of the baby and the household, including a career turnaround - often even if she was more successful professionally than her partner. "Many women feel more competent in matters of household and child-rearing. And the men like to give up the responsibility, out of comfort and insecurity. Just as women like to hand over the responsibility for the tax return or the car inspection," says psychologist Reichle. "Everyone has their own area of ‚Äč‚Äčresponsibility, into which the other does not enter." If both parties agree and are really satisfied with this solution, this model has the lowest potential for conflict.

An equal model harbors potential for conflict

However, if the partners strive for an egalitarian distribution of family responsibilities, washing up and baby food can quickly become a bone of contention. If someone just picks out the "raisins", the house blessing will soon be crooked. Even if the load pendulum is clearly swinging in one direction, frustration is widespread. Or when someone has to cut back on their job and personal needs more than they would like.

On the other hand, mothers who think they are more competent in everything and who set extremely high standards in terms of childcare, cleanliness and nutrition often keep willing fathers at a distance from the child. It would be better, however, to remain open, to have confidence in your partner and to enjoy the relief that this makes possible. And instead of pulling back pouting and sitting in front of the computer when something isn't going well, couples should keep talking. And talk to each other about what is important to them and plan together how and when the implementation can be organized.

Solving conflicts constructively protects the relationship

This includes admitting to yourself that something was wrong and apologizing or forgiving the other person. Otherwise the young family will not have good prospects. Even when old conflicts break out again, the partners aggressively resolve disputes or avoid any kind of argument, it becomes difficult. "In the first year the seeds are laid for later separations," said Barbara Reichle. "Anyone who does not learn to deal constructively with one another and to cope with everyday life during this time is putting the relationship at risk." Couples should take these signals seriously and seek professional help at the latest when constant arguing over trivialities, reproaches and disrespectful behavior lead to disappointment, hopelessness and withdrawal.

A happy child needs happy parents

However, it is better not to let it get that far in the first place. "Young parents should therefore not forget the love of a couple above all their duties. The child should not become the absolute center of life," says couple counselor Mary. "He will only be fine if his parents are doing well - even as lovers." It is therefore important to spend time together and to turn to each other. Lack of sleep and exhaustion will, at least initially, lead to a lull in bed. A walk, a bath or an evening together on the sofa also gives you new energy. Regularly hiring a babysitter and doing something as a couple also keeps love fresh: Whether dance class, sport or cinema - activities together weld together and enliven the relationship.

Ultimately, a lot of patience, serenity and tolerance are required until family life has settled down. Even if many are often close to it - couples do not separate more often after the transition to parenthood than in other phases of life. The state of the relationship before the birth and the ability of the partners to deal with conflict are decisive. If the relationship was stable and not burdened by major conflicts, says Barbara Reichle, young parents will cope well with the first year after.