The transition to parenthood is arguably one of the most profound changes we experience in life — and since it’s such a big deal, it’s also really overwhelming for most new parents. In addition to scouring sites for chic nursery decor and preparing your original child (AKA your dog) for your first baby, you also have to make serious parenting decisions with your partner. With so much to think about, it makes sense that your relationship — the thing that created your baby in the first place — can take a back seat. Researchers at the University of Miami and University of Denver took an in-depth look at all the research currently out there, and affirmed that the transition to parenthood is tough (duh). But they also shared why it’s more difficult for some couples and outlined some scientifically backed ways couples can prepare their relationship for baby number one.

Happy young lesbians playing with baby boy in bed

“The birth of a first baby — often referred to as the transition to parenthood — is both a time of great joy and great stress for new parents,” the study says. While stress and joy are inevitable during the first few months as a new parent, how MUCH stress and joy depends on a few key variables.


1. Whether the Parents Are Married or Not: As many people are putting off marriage, saying that it’s just a social institution, the new analysis of research showed that maybe that ring does matter. Case in point: Unmarried couples experienced slightly more relationship dissatisfaction than married couples after having a child. The researchers found the same correlation in same-sex couples as heterosexual couples (go gay marriage).

2. Whether the Baby Is Biological or Adopted: Citing the planned nature of having a child, the study claimed that parents who adopt their first baby experience fewer deteriorations in their relationship after bringing their bundle of joy home. In fact, these couples actually saw increases in relationship satisfaction in many cases. That’s awesome news for couples that adopt.

Happy parents playing with baby girl

3. A Couple’s Attachment Style: The foundation of many romantic relationships is attachment — which can be a great or a bad thing. In the case of having a baby, people with anxious attachment (which means they rely really heavily on their partner and can feel insecure about their relationship) experience more declines in relationship satisfaction after welcoming a baby than people with secure attachment styles. Build trust with your partner before bringing baby on board.

4. Employment and Income Levels: It’s no surprise that bringing a life into the world is expensive, and therefore has the potential to be super financially stressful. The study confirmed this truth, finding that couples with higher levels of income tend to be less stressed than those strapped for cash.

Any number of these variables can determine the trajectory of your relationship after becoming a parent; however, there’s one trend the study found that’s practically inevitable no matter the nature of your relationship. “As children grow older, parents and non-parent do not differ markedly in levels of relationship functioning,” the study says. One more reason to look forward to growing old together!

Did your relationship change when baby number one came home? Let us know how @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)