By Dr. Jan Hittelman

There have been numerous studies that demonstrate the significant impact that parenting can have on marital satisfaction, specifically that having children can have a negative impact on the couple’s relationship moving forward. Given the profound changes that occur as a result of having children, including increased stress, discipline decisions, financial impacts, and the many other challenges that come from parenting, these results may not be very surprising. Conversely, a 2009 study in the Journal of Psychological Science found that marital satisfaction improves for couples after their children move out of the home. Clearly parenting can put the couple’s relationship to the test. Similarly, dysfunctional relationships between parents can have a very negative affect on family life and children’s overall adjustment. The lesson here is that in order to be effective parents, we have to first take care of ourselves and nurture the relationship between parents, not just between parents and children.