Congratulations! The arrival of your first child is a truly momentous occasion. Becoming a parent is exciting – but it can also be anxiety-provoking at the same time.
The relationship that you share as new parents is a precious resource for you, and certainly for your beautiful baby. You and your partner have countless new opportunities to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences, moments of laughter as you teach and learn from your child, and feelings of connection at pride at the new life you are shaping. But parenthood can be extremely challenging. You will get less sleep, have less time for yourself and your relationship, and encounter all kinds of new challenges and demands. Relationships change when babies arrive, and negotiating these changes well is important for the health of your relationship and the well-being of your child.
What’s Important To Keep In Mind
One important goal for new parents is to adjust well to their new baby, drawing strength from the great joy of parenthood while being mindful of how the increased stress and responsibilities of caring for a child can detract from their relationship.
How We Can Help
From our analysis of the large research literature on human intimacy, we have concluded that all close relationships are governed by three fundamental forces. These forces are especially potent around the time a child arrives, and we believe that gaining an understanding of these forces can give couples the perspective and skills they need to make this a fantastic time in their life. In our seminars at The Relationship Institute we refer to these three forces as the Relationship Triad, and they include:
- Individual Differences: Who you and your partner are as unique individuals
- Communication: The ways you and your partner talk to one another and give meaning to your communication
- Stress: The challenges and stresses you and your partner encounter
A fundamental truth about relationships is that they change, and the Relationship Triad explains how and for whom these changes come about. Some relationships change for the better with the arrival of a child, growing stronger and deeper with each new milestone and each moment of delight. For other couples, the arrival of children can mark the beginning of a gradual decline. You will learn a lot about who you are as a person – and as a parent – when your baby arrives, and you will learn a lot about who your partner is as well. Communication now matters more than ever – but you will have less time and energy to do this well. Children require a great deal of attention, and what were once quiet moments for two are now times of ‘tag team parenting.’ Energy levels drop, and couples sometimes put their sexual needs on the back burner. Add to this a chronic state of fatigue from waking up in the middle of the night, and challenges from work that continue, and we should not be surprised when even loving and committed partners begin to grow short and impatient with one another.
Couples – and their children – thrive when they are aware of their emotional bonds and when they work to keep these bonds healthy and strong. Now is the perfect time for you and your partner to have a clear understanding of how you can keep your relationship and your family functioning well. And now might be the time for you and your partner to reinforce your communication skills, reflect on what this wonderful new transition means to you, share the new concerns and stresses that you are each feeling, and learn the most efficient means possible to keep your relationship vibrant and alive.
We mention these points, not to dampen the wonderful feelings that new parents are experiencing, but to remind couples that they can take active steps to keep these great feelings present in their partnership. In one way or another, all such active steps involve the three forces we have identified here: who you are as unique people and unique parents, how you and your partner express and respond to your thoughts and feelings, and the stresses and strains that affect you and your intimate bond. All couples can benefit from recognizing and understanding how these three forces operate, and couples who do so are more likely to thrive than falter.
Right now your relationship and your family are undergoing wonderful changes, and now is the perfect time to understand the best ways to keep it heading in the right direction. Why not take advantage of this momentous occasion and learn the best ways to keep these feelings flowing?
The Relationship Institute’s seminars and workshops are designed to enhance the key strengths in your relationship while alerting you to some of the core danger zones that create problems for other couples. Our seminars focus on the practical skills and knowledge that you need to build a happy and secure future together. Your relationship may be going great, but it is also changing. Our goal is to distill the wisdom from all kinds of research to guide you toward a range of steps and strategies that will keep your relationship on track.
Learn more about how to maximize the positives of parenthood and keep your relationship thriving by attending our Foundations Seminar or Advanced Topics Seminars. If you prefer a more personalized experience, we recommend our new Premium Couples Workshop.