You might think your marriage is strong, but after you have children, many things are bound to change. How can they not? Your priorities are different. Instead of spending quality time with your spouse, you’re changing diapers, waking up in the middle of the night for feedings, and stressing about your lack of sleep.

Unfortunately, many couples with small children end up separating because they don’t know how to handle the new challenges they face with having kids. In fact, nearly 30% of parents with young children end up separating according to Swedish researchers. And it doesn’t take that long. According to their study, these separations or divorces mostly occur when the child is about 4 years old.

The researchers wanted to know why this was happening and how they could help parents avoid a divorce. After an 8-year study looking at over 400 sets of couples, 23 couples had separated when their firstborn child was around 4 years old, while 16 couples separated when their child was around 8 years old.

When a child is 4 years old, all couples tend to experience low levels of sexuality and sensuality – whether they ended up separating or staying together. The main difference for couples in the early stages of having a child was with the couples who ended up separating. They said they argued more, didn’t have quality intimate moments, and were overall less satisfied with their relationship.

Researchers determined that there were seven major factors that contributed to parents separating:

  • Pressures of parenthood
  • Stressful conditions
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Lack of communication
  • Different interests
  • Lack of commitment
  • Addiction

While some parents eventually realize that they no longer want to be together, other parents might separate unnecessarily. Just because your relationship has changed and taken a downturn doesn’t mean you have to separate. By understanding these 7 factors and working on improving them, you might be able to avoid a separation or a divorce and save your marriage.

If you find yourself in a similar situation with your spouse, use these tips to try to get your marriage back on track in the wake of having children:

  • Communicate. This is the most important! Talk to your spouse and encourage them to do the same. You have to be able to talk about both the good and the bad going on. It will help to let it out while also letting your spouse know where you’re coming from.
  • Be affectionate. Be sensual with your partner. Give hugs and kisses. Hold hands. Showing affection will strengthen your bond and show your partner that you care.
  • Spend time together. It’s easy to get so wrapped up with your child that you neglect your relationship. Even though your kids are a priority, make sure you also make it a priority to spend some quality time with your partner.
  • Be appreciative. When a kid is involved, we take on a lot more responsibility. Don’t let those things go unnoticed. Tell your partner how much you appreciate them and the things that they do. It will make your partner feel valued.

Having kids can be hard on your relationship, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of looking for an easy out, try to take this relationship advice and change your downturn into an upturn.