Parenting and marriage is 'harder' than ever before - expert shares her top 3 tips for navigating your relationship as parents

It can be hard to get your relationship back on track after starting a family

Couple arguing
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New studies have revealed that parenting and marriage are 'harder' than ever before to navigate - we talked to a counsellor to get their advice on navigating relationships and parenthood. 

To the surprise of absolutely no-one, scientists have found that parenting and marriage are getting harder to navigate. 

The new elements of parenting that the technological age have brought us, such as comparisons to mumfluencers on social media, paired with rising childcare costs, the difficulties for working parents balancing careers with family life, plus the added stresses of looking after grandparents and keeping intimate relationships alive - it's all too much stress! Who knew... 

New research has shown that not only is parenting getting harder, but parents weren't prepared for the struggles. PEW research found that most parents think being a parent has been harder, or a lot harder, then they expected, with mothers especially finding this to be true. 

A huge factor contributing to this is the relationship they have with their children's other parent, with about half of married or cohabiting parents feeling judged by their partner for how they parent their children. 

It's not that big of a surprise that so many parents feel like this. We've long known that parenthood changes the dynamic of a relationship, with it being completely normal to feel disconnected from your partner after having a baby and many experts sharing advice to help parents connect with their partner after the kids have gone to bed

If your problems stem from feeling judged by your partner for your parenting style or approach, we spoke to MBACP-certified counsellor Georgina Sturmer to get her three top tips on how to speak up and get your relationship back on track. 

1. Voice your feelings. "If we are feeling judged, it can be helpful to voice our feelings. But this isn’t always easy," she told us here at "If we are feeling anxious or angry then our words might spill out in an aggressive or defensive way and this can escalate a situation, rather than defusing it.  

"It can be helpful to take some time out to explore our feelings first, to more closely examine this sense of ‘being judged’. Does it relate to specific parenting decisions or dilemmas? Is it a more general feeling that relates to the way that we parent together? Once we know what’s going on, it can make it easier to consider voicing our feelings to our spouse and, when we do voice them, it can be more effective if we use ‘I statements’ in order to share how we are feeling, rather than laying accusations on the other person.  

2. Find the right moment. Georgina explains, "As busy parents, it might feel difficult to find the right time to address what’s going on.  But it’s really important to find a time and a place to deal with what’s going on when we are both feeling calm and when we have enough time to talk through our own perspectives - and to listen to each other." 

She added that a good time is when kids have gone to bed, or are at school or out of the house for whatever reason so you can both focus on the conversation and not whatever your kids are doing. "This means that we will be less distracted, and more able to speak freely and honestly," she said. 

3. Move forward.  No one really wants to compromise, but Georgina says that it's sometimes necessary. "When we decide to get married and have children, it isn’t a given that we will have the same views and approaches towards parenting. Once we have bitten the bullet and talked about our challenges, we might still find ourselves at an impasse," she says realistically.   

"If that’s the case, consider together how you can reach a compromise on elements of parenting. Perhaps it’s about meeting in the middle, or about trying one approach and seeing whether it works and then evaluating together. These negotiations can help us to feel more like a team and this sense of unity means that, when things go wrong, we can work together to solve any challenges, rather than feeling judged by the other person."

In other family and relationship news, this is how to explain the mental load to your partner  from three experts  - and #4 might be your game changer. Plus, are you in a codependent relationship? Expert shares 10 signs you are, why it's not a great thing and what to do about it. And, half of parents ‘trapped’ into living near grandparents due to childcare costs - two mums share their stories

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.