A new baby has just been brought home. What a beautiful time in a couple’s life but it can also bring new challenges. Some of the biggest challenges a couple faces when they have children are increased stress, sleep deprivation, and less down time together. All of these challenge the couple to turn toward and rely on each other. The goal is to come to each other with concerns, frustrations, fears, etc. Versus keeping thoughts and emotions to ourselves and trying to manage all of the changes on our own. We were built for connection and to lean on our partner in times of stress and transition.
This can begin with talking about the new stressors. A new Mom returning to work and the emotional roller coaster that may go along with daily drop offs at childcare. The increasingly limited discretionary income. Waves of exhaustion that accompany sleepless nights up with a baby or sick child.
Conversations may sound like: “Drop off was awful today. I cried more than the baby.” “It really sucks but we can’t go out to eat as much because of all the new costs we have.” “I miss when we used to lay together before bed.” “I want to be intimate with you but I am exhausted. Can we just lay together tonight?”
The tricky part about these conversations are often they do not come out so nicely. We are frustrated overwhelmed and tend to vent and or take it out on our partner. But the feelings are valid. If your bringing something up do your best to avoid blaming or catch yourself and apologize if your message comes out a little rough around the edges. As it does for most of us when we are stressed and tired. If you are on the receiving end listen for what your partner is needing from you. Try to filter out the snappy delivery. Most likely they do not hate you or think you are terrible even if that’s how it seemed to come out. Does your partner just need you to listen and respond empathetically? “I’m so sorry. I wish I could have been there with you. That must have been awful. Is there anything I can do?” The goal is your response will be empathetic, let your partner know you are listening, you care, and you are there for them.
If you catch yourself getting angry at your partner or just keeping everything in to avoid a fight you might be getting caught in frustrating loop. In these frustrating fights you often do not feel heard or understood and chances are your partner is just as frustrated.
There are some great resources out there for couples which I would highly recommend by leading researchers on couples and relationships. If you are bringing a new baby home, And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives by John and Julie Gottman. For anytime in your relationship, my favorite marriage and relationship book which makes sense of the frustrating cycles of fighting or avoiding fighting that we all get caught in, Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson.
If we neglect any relationship, we run the risk of the relationship suffering. Our marriage is no different. Any stress on a marriage, including children, could lead to distance from our partner but stress can also help couples grow closer and relationships become stronger.
To avoid any stress leading to disconnection from our partner we have to consistently make the effort to show each other we are there for each other. No relationship is perfect and it is normal for our efforts to wax and wane. What matters most is our connection to our partner remains important to us and we continuously come back together again to reconnect, mend wounds after fights and show each other we care and we are always going to be there for each other. The great news is the better your connection with your partner the easier parenting will be.
Michelle Puster M.Ed. | Licensed Professional Counselor
Helping disconnected couples grow closer
Couples & Marriage Counseling Katy | West Houston
This blog is brought to you by Hold Me Tight | Houston. Couples learn new ways of communicating that keep them out of old patterns. Research based. Presented around the world.