When we fall in love, we focus a lot of attention on our partner. But when we decide to double down on our love by making a family with that partner, the catch is we have less time for them.
It's not uncommon for a parent to start feeling neglected or even jealous after the baby comes along. That scenario played out in the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Sunday's episode showed a lot of fighting between Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West, who at one point suggested Kim is more attentive to the kids than she is to him.
"I think so many husbands feel neglected when you start having kids and then all of their attention gets taken away," Kim said in the episode.
Kanye is hardly the only co-parent to feel a little jealous of the little ones. As pediatrician Dr. Michael Dickinson previously wrote for the Globe and Mail, these kinds of feelings often come up when there's a newborn (like Kim and Kanye's daughter Chicago) in the mix.
"There may not be much physical, psychological or emotional energy left at the end of the day for romance and marriage enrichment," Dickinson wrote. "One of the best ways for fathers to overcome jealousy is to become more involved in the care of their baby."
Kanye is a pretty hands-on dad, but he may want to follow Dickinson's advice and spend more time caring for the kids. Kim is taking her sister Khloe's advice, and carving out some time just for her and Kanye.
"I make such a priority for all the kids, and I go above and beyond for them, but in that, I'm fully neglecting my husband," she said in the episode. "So I just want to give Kanye the attention and love that he needs. … When you have so many kids, it's important to still make your relationship a top priority."
She's right about that, and prioritizing her marriage won't just be good for Kim and Kanye, but Chicago, North and Saint, too, experts suggest.
David Code, author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, says "parents today are too quick to sacrifice our lives and our marriages for our kids. Most of us have created child-centred families, where our children hold priority over our time, energy and attention," the Guardian reports.
Mom and dad end up exhausted, and the kids end up entitled, says Code.
"We often believe we just don't have time for our spouse. But when two parents drift apart, often one parent will drift closer to the kids," he explains. "We parents convince ourselves that putting our children first is child-friendly, but we make two main mistakes by doing so."
The first mistake, says Code, is that by drifting away from each other we make it easier for our kids to play us against each other to get their way, because the parents aren't a united front. The second mistake also happens by accident: Parents can inadvertently start depending on their children for their own emotional needs, which puts a lot of pressure on the children.
When we set aside time for our partners, we can avoid putting extra pressure on our kids, and minimize resentment in the marriage. And this isn't just about whether or not we're having sex after having a baby, it's about making room for date nights, for romantic notes instead of emailed grocery lists, and most of all, for each other.