When I was expecting my first child last summer, I did all the typical preparing most parents would do. I read books, had an app on my phone to tell me how my baby was developing, documented the progress of my growing belly, took my prenatal vitamins, ate healthy, exercised, put the baby’s room together, went to birthing classes… the list goes on. Once I was in that hospital room and the big moment finally arrived, I realized no amount of my preparations really readied me for what was to come.
Having a baby changes everything. It opens your eyes to your own strengths and weaknesses, forces you to learn “on the job” things you never imagined, and creates a different relationship with your partner than you had previously. In Dr. John Gottman’s book “And Baby Makes Three”, he writes about studying couples of babies and provides the scary statistic that two out of three couples find they are unhappy with their relationship after having a baby. This is because the arrival of a baby creates a stressful and exhausting environment for both parents. If the couple does not have a solid foundation of friendship, mutual sacrifice, and respectful, clear communication between them, this drastic change can catapult their relationship into disaster.
Thankfully, not every couple is like this. Dr. Gottman found that one third of the couples he studied still had a great relationship after their baby’s arrival. These are couples who knew how to navigate stress and change together, supported each other, and shared childcare responsibilities equally. They also continued fostering their friendship by prioritizing time together, communicating regularly, and showing affection towards each other.
I’m grateful I have a partner and relationship like the one third and our family is stronger than ever. We could have easily been in the two thirds group if we did not recognize the need for our couple relationship to be the priority, even over being parents.
When expecting your first child, I urge you to work on your relationship with your partner first and foremost. This will make you better friends, partners, and parents overall. Continuing this trend after your baby is born will only strengthen your family and model for your child what a healthy relationship should look like.
If you are expecting your first baby or recently had one, please contact us to ensure your family’s success at email@example.com or 303-353-9226
Post by: Christie Sears Thompson, MA