Life Changes

Why Marry?

Because you’re in love. Although love shouldn’t be the only reason to marry, it’s an important ingredient in the most successful relationships.

To make a commitment. You’ve decided that you want to be together forever, knowing each other’s faults and failings.

It’s part of your culture. The ceremony of marriage is an integral part of your cultural or religious beliefs and an essential part of your core value system.

To start a family. You’ve both enjoyed a secure and committed relationship for some time and feel marriage is the best environment in which to bring up children.

To celebrate. Because you want your family and friends to share with you in your happiness and commitment as a couple.

It’s the right time. You have a solid and secure relationship and it feels like the logical next step.

Bad Reasons to Marry

To make your relationship secure. If your relationship isn’t secure before you marry, there’s no reason to think it will be afterwards. It may be harder for you to separate after marriage, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be happy.

Fear of being alone. Some people marry because they’re scared that no one else will have them. Remember, it’s better to be left on the shelf than spend your whole life in the wrong cupboard.

For the children. It’s true that, on the whole, children benefit from living with two parents, but marrying purely for your child is unlikely to create a happy home environment.

You want a big wedding. The big white wedding may seem like a fairy tale come true, but it only lasts a day. Marriage is (supposed to be) for life.

To recover from divorce. Some people want a second marriage to help them to get over the first – to prove that they’re OK. But those feelings must come from within.

You may have many more reasons why you want to marry. The most important thing is that you and your partner have fully discussed your reasons and that you’re both confident you share the same motivation and intentions.

New Baby – New roles

Whichever partner takes time off work to care for your baby, it will take you both time to adjust to your new roles as parents, which bring with them some common anxieties.

Common anxieties for fathers:

  • Will I be a good enough father?
  • How can I work full-time, help my partner, be with my child and still have time for me?
  • Can I earn enough money to look after us? What if I lose my job?
  • My partner is so absorbed with the baby, will we ever be a normal couple again?

Common anxieties for mothers:

  • Will I be a good enough mother?
  • Will my body ever feel normal again?
  • Can I protect my baby from the dangers of the world?
  • How do I feel about being financially dependent on my partner?
  • Will I ever have a life of my own again?

The Joys and Trials of Parenting

For couples, becoming a parent is a joyful time. You may find yourself spending hours staring at your creation, marvelling at the perfect little fingers and toes. Each new development is a milestone to share: the first smile, the first solids – the first night slept through! Learning to be parents can be a bonding experience.

But with the joy come the trials. The biggest problem by far is lack of sleep. Exhaustion can make us feel physically ill, mentally drained and emotionally raw. Even the smallest disagreements seem huge.

Here are the most common issues that arise:

  • Money – or rather, the lack of it. The change in financial balance if one of you gives up work may also cause problems. See Money trouble and Budgeting for a baby.
  • Time – finding enough time for your baby, for each other, for your job and for yourself becomes an ongoing battle. See ‘Tips for creating couple time’, below.
  • Sex – even if you find the time and the energy, you’ve still got to muster up the enthusiasm, and 80 per cent of new mums report lowered desire in the first months. Try some of the tips in Sex after birth, Gone off sex? and Too busy for sex?
  • Household chores – instead of blaming each other when the house is a mess and there’s no food in the fridge, learn to relax in spite of the chaos. Life will return to normal eventually; in the meantime, order a pizza and turn the lights down low so you can’t see the mess.
  • The in-laws – there’s a thin line between helpful involvement and interference, and it often depends on your mood. Remember to take whatever help is offered, but be insistent about those things that are important to you.


This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Trisha Macnair in August 2005.
First published in November 1997.