My son’s birth was problematic. Being the complex individual he is, he tangled his umbilical on his way out and had a difficult exit. He created a very anxious time for all of us waiting to welcome him. Apart from that dramatic entry the coming years saw him develop into a delightful child and now a wonderful man and a new father himself to a gorgeous daughter.
On that very anxious day, once I stood there watching him sleep in his hospital crib I made myself a promise that now matter what problems arose between my wife and I personally, I would be there in his life at least until he was 18.
I was glad I made that promise because it made me stay the course whenever things got difficult. It reminded me that no matter how difficult I perceived things to be at the time, he and his sister were a worthwhile reason to grow beyond the issue at hand.
The ending, break-up and divorce in a relationship can be devastating as it traumatizes all involved.  (I say, can, be because not all break-ups are acrimonious).
It’s unfortunate that so many divorces occur when the children are still young and the process becomes acrimonious and a battle with the kids in the middle ground of the battlefield. But the reasons are not unfathomable. There are quite valid reasons for this and if couples understood their origins and the nature of the human species a bit better it may help them overcome the turmoils that a long term relationship inevitably encounters.
Humans are a unique species of animal. We are self-aware and that creates Ego. On one hand we are driven by inbuilt animal instincts embedded in our DNA. Instincts placed there to protect us (fight and flight) and to procreate  the species (very potent sex drives) and on the other hand we have intellect and emotions which can be irrational and counter intuitive to our instincts. This creates confusion and conflict and when we don’t have sufficient emotional intelligence to resolve the conflict, it ends with one or the other leaving the relationship.
young couple
Young couples can manage the relationship well enough while the chemical cocktail of hormones driving the need to procreate is active in them, but once the child arrives and the cocktail has diminished they require a massive shift to emotional intelligence to overcome the physical changes and needs in the relationship as well as handling the daunting task of caring for a child.
The individual’s needs require particular attention. Those needs have changed particularly for her. Her focus is on nurturing the child, and her partner becomes a secondary priority. This is often misunderstood and egos can be dented and resentments created.
Trouble arises when emotional intelligence is not exercised. This is not intentional. Most often it’s because couples don’t know, what they don’t know. Exercising emotional intelligence requires a certain level of maturity. Many couples step up to that level when the child is born automatically but too many don’t and keep working on their changed circumstances with the original expectations they had as singles and young lovers.
Young parents need to re-evaluate their needs and identify and determine new needs. They need to communicate these needs to each other and not expect them to be obviously understood. They are not.
A young dad needs to realize that his wife now has a new focus. Her primary role now is to nurture the child, this is build in and part of the original design. Many young mothers fall in love with their baby and neglect their partner. Yet emotional intelligence would dictate that the father is equally in need of her love and nurture.
For young fathers their primary role now is to provide and protect their new family. They focus on their work and sharing up the home against… well everything. Many take on that role too enthusiastically and neglect their partner’s needs. They work long hours, spend too much time away from the home and often when they are there fail to support her.
They need to understand that because her needs and focus have changed she still needs his support in raising the child even while his needs have to take a back seat.
At the same time the young mother needs to know that although her partner’s changes may not be as pronounced as hers. His needs for validation of his importance to her and all he does for her and the child are constantly being tested by the primary needs of the child.
That’s why a lot of emotional intelligence and maturity is needed for the relationship to remain intact and harmonious.
Couples need to remember the feelings they had for each other at the beginning of their relationship. They need to realize the changes their child has made on both of them, physically and emotionally. They need to pin point their new needs and understand the barriers in front of them. Then work together to overcome them.
Obviously, avoiding going down the path of divorce if preferable and seeking professional mentoring advice is always a good idea.
John C. Cirak the founder of The EX-perienced and the go-to coach for divorced men and women who want to improve their social and dating skills.