The coming of children to a marriage can be experienced either as a loss in the couple’s relationship or an expansion of it. The evidence that we have from marriage research reinforces a sober picture that parenthood puts a strain on a marriage. For parenting to be a positive experience for the couple, as well as for the children, the health of the couple’s relationship needs care and support from many quarters. While it will be helpful for parents to improve communication skills and engage help from friends and family, they may still find the job of parenting overwhelming. They should not go it alone.
Your faith is the chief support of your marriage. Research shows that couples who are more religious tend to be more satisfied in their marriages, experience less conflict about common issues and higher levels of commitment and are less likely to divorce. Religious couples were more likely to report being satisfied in sacrificing for one another and have a stronger team identity. Couples seem to benefit most from religious practice if they are involved in it together.
With faith spouses can trust God to help them beat the statistics and continue in partnership. They also need to build ties with other parents who are in the same boat. A community of like-minded friends, at church and in the home, are a treasure. Parent groups that they organize in their parish or neighborhood, like the Christian Family Movement, can provide such a network.
God and good friends help the spouses to participate in a project that is bigger than both of them. In the process, they experience what Christian tradition calls “the Paschal Mystery,” dying to their old selves and rising to a new life. They learn in their vocation as parents that suffering leads to glory.
Who are your partners in parenting that help keep your marriage strong?