Mums and dads-to-be might think they have an idea about how parenthood will impact their relationship, but new research has revealed just how much of a strain a new baby could have.
Half of couples reported arguing more frequently and a third said they could sometimes go five days at a time without talking to their other half.
Common disputes among sleep-deprived and frazzled parents include who is the most tired and who should get up in the night.
But a dwindling sex life also takes its toll with 16% of couples grumbling about the lack of intimacy.
A further 17% argue about the general lack of affection once baby is born, while 12% of couples have fallen out after one pressured the other into having sex.
In scenes that will sound horribly familiar to many new mums and dads, division of responsibilities also contributed to the bickering, with housework not getting done, who should be responsible for feeding, burping and changing the baby also sparking rows.
Parents also disagreed on issues like how much their little one should be eating or drinking, and whether they should be left to cry alone.
With all this unrest it isn’t entirely surprising that a fifth of couples split up for good within the first 12 months of having their child, after the disagreements proved too much to handle.
Commenting on the findings Zoë Bonser, Show Director at The Baby Show said: “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 about it, 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.”
For many parents the extent of how their relationships were impacted came as a bit of a surprise, with more than six in 10 parents admitting they weren’t prepared for the huge effect having a baby would have on their life.
Finances also contributed to the upset, with more than a fifth of parents polled via OnePoll.com claiming to have struggled to get used to having less money, and almost a quarter say they’ve fought about one partner going out more than the other.
Looking back on their first year of parenthood, four in 10 parents wish they’d done more to prepare for what was ahead.
On the upside 23% of those polled asked friends or family members for additional support when finding things tough.
And parents explained that certain tactics helped restore some sort of calm in their relationship, including sharing night-feeds, planning ahead, making time for regular sex, and having time-out with friends and regular date nights.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of parenting site ChannelMum.com said: “Even those couples who usually communicate brilliantly can find the first few months of having a baby tough, and arguments are a really normal part of the adjustment process.
“Lack of sleep during the early months, and getting used to the new-found responsibilities can pile pressure on new parents and contribute to arguments.
“Making time for each other can be just as important as learning how to look after the baby, as happy parents will naturally result in a happy child.”
Zoë adds: “The most important thing is to keep talking and recognise how you’re both feeling and ensure you make time for each other, as well as your baby.
“Because this is such a huge issue we have joined forces with ChannelMum.com to offer visitors at this weekend’s Baby Show advice on how to prepare for and overcome the challenges that parenthood brings.”
TOP 20 ‘YEAR ONE’ ARGUMENTS
1. Who is the most tired / had the least sleep
2. Who should get up in the night with the baby
3. Housework not getting done
4. Having less money than usual
5. One person being out at work all day and the other being left alone to parent
6. Who should be responsible for feeding, changing, burping the baby
7. Someone not doing their fair share of the work
8. One person going out and socialising more than the other
9. Lack of affection
10. Not having time to go out together
11. One of you wasn't putting in enough effort
12. Not being able to soothe the baby when it is crying
13. Lack of sex
14. Whether the baby should be left to cry alone
15. Disagreement over relatives / in-laws getting involved
16. One of you isn't talking to the other as much
17. Pressure to have sex when you don't want to
18. One party being bored when home alone with the baby
19. Whether the baby is poorly or not
20. How much the baby should drink / eat