"Researchers found that both married women and those who were living with, but not married to, their child's father experienced similar decreases in relationship satisfaction during the transition into parenthood.
"It is striking that even in Norway, a nation in which there is a great deal of institutional support for parents through the transition to having children, the decrease in marital satisfaction with the birth of children that is typically seen in the United States and elsewhere still occurs," said Jay Lebow, the journal's editor. "It also is striking that this decrease occurs whether or not couples are married."
This study supports earlier research: Another study from the University of Denver found that 90% of new parents experience a decline in relationship satisfaction, while a recent survey by the online magazine Baby Talk showed that fewer than a quarter of new parents were happy with their post-baby sex lives.
Said psychiatrist Gail Saltz, "Couples go from feeling that they are essentially taking care of each other to taking care of their children, and the loss of care taken from your partner leads to less relationship satisfaction. It is a psychological shift in the dynamic of the relationship that may not even be rooted in very much concrete action, or lack thereof, but more a feeling that your partner can't take care of you like they used to."
Experts urge parents to make a concerted effort to nurture their relationships while they are also nurturing their babies. Some tips include scheduling "play dates" with your partner while someone watches your baby, and keeping the bedroom a "sacred space" reserved just for you and your spouse to sleep or have sex.
Image: Couple with crying baby, via Shutterstock