No matter how great your marriage was before you had kids, you can't just leave it on autopilot now. "A lot of family life is about putting out fires," says Linda Waite, PhD, a sociologist at the University of Chicago. "With children, there are so many things you have to deal with immediately, so you don't work on your own relationship." However, you have to invest time and energy in your marriage -- and address tense topics -- if you want it to sustain you during tough times.
"In the year after my son Kevin was born, I thought my marriage was in jeopardy," admits Caroline Bogeaus, of Agoura Hills, California. "I felt like my husband left all of the work of parenting to me, and there were days when I was so angry that I couldn't even look at him. But I didn't want us to fight, so I stayed silent and got even madder. " Fortunately, her husband, Brandon, eventually sensed her frustration and got her to open up -- and now that they have three kids, the couple is closer than ever. "I don't wait for him to guess my thoughts anymore," says Bogeaus. "If I need his help, I just ask him."