Bringing a new baby home will be one of the most exciting, exhilarating and exceptional experiences that will happen in your life – both as an individual … and as a couple.
It will also be one of the most exhausting and exasperating events that will challenge your beliefs, values and wait for it … YOUR RELATIONSHIP!
So, do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Let’s go with the good news. No matter how challenging this new reality of yours is – there is PLENTY you can do – to guard your relationship over the negative aspects of parenthood.
Now for the bad news. It is going to take time, effort and energy to do so. And these are 3 qualities that are usually in short supply when you become parents for the first time. But fear not – as we have listed 3 things here to look out for – and 3 simple solutions that will get you over the hump and back into the land of post-baby bliss
- It was around B.B. (Before Baby) and it will be there A.B. (After Baby) but the difference is that now there is MORE of it – and a new definite deadline that can’t be ignored. (Nappies NEED to be washed in a timely manner). There is also a general belief that if the new dad goes back to work while mum stays home with the new baby, that it is now ‘mums job’ to look after the house as well as the new bub. And while this may be accepted in many relationships, the issue is not WHO does the work, but HOW this division is sorted in the first place, so as not to cause confusion and conflict.
SOLUTION – Communication. As with most issues that arise in relationships, it is usually a sense of assumption that causes the problem. The husband may ‘assume’ that the house should be neat and tidy when he arrives home from work and the wife may ‘assume’ that her man always empties the bin under the sink EVERY TIME it reaches ¾ full. When these expectations are not met, interactions can turn into conflict and so begins a ‘perpetual issue’ that Dr John Gottman, from the Gottman Institute attributes to 69% of all problems in relationships. (more on perpetual issues in a future article – stay tuned ?)
- Grandparents (and never-ending visitors in general). It is one thing having to deal with the two of you transitioning from being a couple to becoming parents – but to watch your own parents ‘morph’ into grandparents can be confusing, as many take their new role as a licence to have access to your home 24 / 7. This can often lead to unwanted company, unwanted advice, unwanted help and in some cases – unwanted criticism.
SOLUTION – While we want to nourish and cherish ALL the new roles having a baby brings and also embrace what our own parents ‘bring to the table’, it is important that you both as a couple set boundaries that you BOTH agree on from the very beginning. Discuss with each other as a couple what YOU want to see in your own home and life, and make sure you BOTH communicate these boundaries clearly to everyone involved – ideally before baby even arrives. This way, no-one feels like it is a direct criticism or attack. Make the rules that suit you – not what suits other people.
- This can be a huge stressor on ALL new parents. Many times, one of you have given up work for period of time to care for bub, so the household income that you have been used to reduces significantly, while expenses increase with the demands of a new family. Less coming in – more going out. Stress and arguments go UP!
SOLUTION – Good old fashioned communication. No surprises here guys, but this topic needs pen, paper, a calculator and the 2 of you sitting face to face to discuss contingency plans BEFORE they become issues. It is so much easier to talk about a potential situation – than it is to try to resolve a problem. Make a budget, plan for surprises, agree on purchases and set limits. When you have rules to follow – the game usually runs smoothly. No rules can lead to problems.
Transitioning to parenthood can be the best of times and the worst of times all rolled into one, however when you focus on proactive solutions instead of waiting until things develop into problems, you will indeed become masters of your relationship. And always remember, the greatest gift you can give your baby is a strong relationship between the 2 of you.
Kylie-Jo Elliott – www.relationshipafterbaby.com