BABY COMES FIRST: Couples often suffer from lack of intimacy after their children are born, surveys have found. Picture: Pexels

* Raymond and his wife have been married for more than 11 years. From the outside, theirs is a marriage made in heaven.

“I always thought we were the model couple. But then the cracks started showing when our second child came along. Things just got hectic and the tension between us was unbearable,” he says.

“It started with small things she never asked how my day was and there was no affection, not so much as a peck on the cheek. Looking after the children became our No 1 priority and eventually we started drifting apart.”

Raymond felt like the added pressure of work and looking after the kids made his wife re-prioritise her life and unfortunately put their relationship on the back burner.

He’s not alone.

Many men feel that, once kids come along, they are no longer a priority in their wives’ lives.

Finding a balance between romance and parenting is not as easy as it sounds. There is work, homework, supper and chores before you pass out, wake up and do it all over again. On the weekend there are tuitions, extra-murals, birthday parties and family commitments.

While we’re advocating that both parents share the load, we know that moms often do more and that dads often require more attention. “Both partners need to step up and create a marriage that is mutually beneficial, says relationship coach Kas Naidoo.

“While women have had to step up in the work world and contribute financially, men have to step up and help with the home and children,” she says.

“The most successful marriages are ones where the husband and wife see each other as equal partners, sharing the responsibility to create a happy home and family. A recipe for success is when what we have to offer in terms of time, energy and support surpasses what we expect in return.”

That said, both parents can still be exhausted after a day of school runs, office meetings, laundry and complex conversations detailing to your children why the sky is blue or whatever other random question they’ve decided to throw at you.

The trouble is men still want the attention from their partners that women are willing to forfeit.

* Lucas has been living with his partner for just over a year. In every other aspects of their relationship they are the perfect fit.

Yet he feels at times that she does not listen to him. There are times that the lines get blurred.

“We are together to add to one another’s life and I enjoy adding to hers. Besides, it is an amazing feeling when you can see how the little things are appreciated.”

He says he wants mutual respect and appreciation.

Relationship expert Christiane Cardoso explores man’s basic need for respect in his best-selling book Bullet Proof Marriage.

“I have seen men put up with various things from their wives without complaint: A lack of intimacy, having to eat out every day because she doesn’t want to cook, babysitting while she goes out with friends,” he writes. “Men don’t ask for much. But when a husband isn’t given the respect he deserves inside his own home, he will look for it elsewhere: a fulfilling job or another woman.”

Even psychologist Robert Rodriguez seems to suggest that men are needier in parental partnerships.

The author of What’s Your Pregnant Man Thinking, Rodriguez notes 10% of fathers-to-be cheat on their partners during pregnancy. Some say they do it because they feel powerless by the impending arrival and fear their position in the family is being undermined.

A UK survey conducted in 2014 revealed that 82% of the participants strayed from their relationships after having children.

The most common reason for their infidelity? Sex with their partner stopped being passionate after the baby came.

Naidoo says affairs happen when a person feels their needs are not being met. “It’s a pity because it’s often not intentional but results in immense hurt for all concerned.”

There are ways to safeguard your relationship from heading in this direction, she says: “Open up the communication with your partner, make your needs known and, together as a couple, find ways to meet your own and each other’s needs.

“Happy relationships don’t happen by chance - they are created by people who have the same vision.”

* Not their real names