Becoming a parent is an incredibly joyous experience. It is also a major transitional period for your relationship. A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the struggle that many new parents experience. If you are planning to bring a child into your partnership, it’s important to be aware of the changes that will impact your relationship. Preparing for these challenges in advance (before you’re surviving on two hours of sleep) will help to keep your relationship strong:
As referred to above…sleep deprivation makes daily hassles more intense. In our relationships, we feel more emotionally out of control – we are more reactive, e.g. short fuse. This doesn’t mean the relationship is bad – just means you’re tired and going through a tremendous transition.
Intense focus on baby’s needs
Birthing moms often tend to take on all responsibility for meeting baby’s needs. Non-birthing partners who do not have the opportunity to frequently touch/hold the newborn miss out on the bonding hormone. They tend to feel left out and respond by withdrawing from their babies and working more. This cycle leaves both parents feeling isolated and alone.
Decrease in sex drives
Many birthing moms experience feelings of guilt and a sense that “something is wrong with me”. Non-birthing partners often feel undesired by their mate. In turn, they question their own attractiveness and “turn off” or “turn away” their feelings of desire.
Shifting roles – additional duties/responsibilities
Partners may be so wrapped up in their own contributions that they do not see/acknowledge their partner’s efforts. Even though both parents are working much harder – they both feel unappreciated.
Couples To Do: Use these common challenges as a starting point for talking to your partner.
The time before you bring baby home is a great opportunity to build your communication and conflict resolution skills. Work together to come up with a plan that will allow you to stay connected. The more work you put into communicating your feelings and needs before baby will pay off when you are in “survival mode.”
For more information visit San Diego Couples Counseling