Keeping connected when baby comes alongMay 19, 2018
I see a lot of couples who present for marriage counselling because they believe they have lost their connection after a child is born.
People wildly underestimate the stress having a child puts on the primary relationship.
And a lot of couples we see at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists say they had wished they were more conscious of the potential threat to a relationship
a child brings so that they could have been better prepared.
Most of the time the stress on the relationship seems to be about the lack of time a couple has to keep their connection strong. When a child arrives priorities
change and what tends to come first is the child’s needs, work and sleep – and then the demands of extended family/friends. The couple’s relationship
falls somewhere below these priorities. For a while this can be okay and most relationships can withstand this – but not over a number of years. If
people don’t spend enough time working on their relationship, goodwill lessens and when goodwill lessens, resentments rise and connections are lost
– sometimes threatening the marriage.
Here are some ideas to help you stay connected when your baby arrives:
- Discuss ways you can individually support each other. Support for one partner might mean maintaining social connections and another partner time of
their own. Give each other this support as best as you can.
- Organise a regular date night. Invest in a babysitter if that’s what it takes. It will be worth it.
- Create an environment in the home that is about you as a couple – either make sure toys are cleared away at a certain time, or have an allocated room
that is centred around the two of you (for adults).
- Keep track of what is happening in each other’s day and make time to really listen to what is important for your partner. Remember you don’t need to
help resolve your partner’s worries – you just need to listen.
- Recognise what your partner contributes to the family and show appreciation for this. This will help your partner feel valued and will lessen resentments
over time. Make an effort to compliment the job your partner is doing (in or out of the home), thank your partner for their qualities, and talk
about your partner positively to others.
- Try to have at least one day where you wake up or go to sleep together.
- Keep the attention balanced between all family members. Children require a lot of attention and this is needed because it is part of their development.
But remember your partner needs attention as well. And so does a family pet if you have one.
- Say no to activities which place stress on you as a couple. Say yes to the activities that energise you both individually and as a couple.
- Make a regular time to meet up and talk about your week ahead. This is a time when you can discuss how you feel about certain activities and take action
on things that need work.
- Schedule schedule schedule – when a baby comes along, together time just does not come organically – work on your relationship needs to be scheduled
until it becomes a new conscious habit in your new family life together.
Relationship counselling can really help with this transition phase – whether it is to help you navigate through the beginning stage of baby arriving or
because you are further down the track and resentments and lost connection has occurred.
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