The joys of having a child can also add stress to your marriage. And many couples develop bad habits as they become parents, says Dr Edward Gray, professor of counselling at Harding University in the US and the author of several "12 Conversations" programmes, which include marriage mentoring. He was in Singapore recently for Marriage Convention 2012, which was organised by Marriage Central. He shares five negative practices that you should break.
It's not always about the kids
Habit When you focus too much on them, you neglect to nurture your marriage. This can happen without you even realising it. And when you do spend time together, your conversations are inadvertently about them.
Break it Make time for each other. Plan "dates" like you did before your marriage and make arrangements for a sitter, grandparents or friends to care for Junior, so you have no excuses. It can be as simple as a picnic, dinner and movie, or just a long walk together. Take this time to share and talk about current events, your relationship and non-kid topics.
Talk is (not) cheap
Habit You neglect to communicate with each other - you either put off or avoid discussions altogether because you feel it may interrupt time spent on dealing with the children's needs.
Break it Couples need to cultivate good communication. Aim to set aside uninterrupted time to talk - you may need it to discuss and resolve problems at home, plan for the future, work out financial matters and the like.
You've become roommates
Habit You're often so busy and tired from caring for your children that you don't make time for intimacy. By the time the little ones are in bed, you're exhausted, sometimes cranky and ready to fall asleep.
Break it While it seems odd to think about needing to schedule intimate times, the presence of young children often inhibits spontaneity. Sex doesn't have to begin in the bedroom - sneak in some cuddling in between time with the kids, doing the laundry or washing the car. Those feelings of love and caring for one another can then reach into the bedroom in the evening. Schedule a sleepover for the kids at Grandma's or a friend's house, if necessary.
Time for Time-outs
Habit You spend so much time managing your kids' logistics that you don't have much time for each other.
Break it When the kids are young, the family schedule revolves around feeding cycles, diaper changes and the like. But as they get older, you could take a step back and see what you can eliminate from the endless rounds of attending to their schedules, so that the family is not overwhelmed with activity.
Get your priorities right
Habit You may be concentrating your finances on your kids, but you fall into the trap of working harder just so you can afford more things and a better lifestyle for them.
Break it Children need time and attention, and a stable home with two parents who love each other. Take time to dream about the future together. And make plans: These might involve shorter-term goals like planning a vacation for the family or saving money for a major purchase, or longer-term goals, which include retirement.