Lack of communication, a dwindling sex life and not having any time for each other are among the most common reasons new parents break-up.
A study of 2,000 mums and dads found a third of relationships suffer serious problems in the months following a baby's birth. More than one in 10 couples in the study had resorted to a trial separation in the 12 months after their baby's arrival, but later got back together.
Break-ups most commonly take place at the six month mark – and one in three of the couples who ended things cited ‘a complete lack of communication’ as the main reason. Around three in 10 said their sex life dwindled with the new baby’s arrival, while 29 per cent missed the affection they had shared previously. But 23 per cent blamed it on one party cheating within 12 months of the birth.
Regular arguments, one partner being less involved in the care of the baby and having to adjust to the new responsibility also caused irreparable problems, according to the study by parenting site ChannelMum.com and The Baby Show.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com says: ‘Forget the seven year itch – it’s six months of sleepless nights that are most likely to prise apart new parents. Sleepless nights, less time for intimacy and added responsibility can test even the most committed relationships.
‘Parents already prepare financially and even redo their home for a new arrival, so it makes sense to emotionally “babyproof” your relationship before birth too,’ she adds.
One fifth of parents found the lack of sleep during the early months was so severe that it left them unable to rationalise what was happening to their relationship.
Half the couples reported arguing more frequently: lack of sex or being pressured into sex were the most common triggers for rows.
For women, a huge drop in body confidence also had an impact on the relationship post-birth, while 24 per cent of men felt completely side-lined as mum favoured the baby.
However, nearly 1 in 4 of those polled via OnePoll, did call on family and friends for additional support. Sharing night-feeds, making time for regular sex, having time-out with friends and regular date nights were other methods used to maintain a happy relationship.
Zoë Bonser, show director at The Baby Show says: ‘It’s disheartening to see so many couples break up in the first 12 months of parenting – one of the most exciting times in their lives. While it is a wonderful period, there’s no doubt it’s stressful with the change in sleep patterns, routines and responsibilities and getting used to there being a third person around that you have to care for all the time.
‘The most important thing is to keep talking, recognise how you’re both feeling and ensure you make time for each other, as well as your baby.’
Ten reasons couples break up within a year of their child’s birth:
1. Lack of communication.
2. Dwindling sex life.
3. Loss of affection.
5. Lack of time for each other.
6. Existing relationship problems exacerbated by baby.
8. Absent partners – lack of shared care.
9. Difficulties coping with the responsibility of parenting.