Becoming a parent leads to fundamental change for us as an individual and within the couple relationship. Navigating these changes to our identity both as individuals and a couple can be really challenging. In this article we will share tips on how to navigate this potentially turbulent time in your relationship and maintain a strong partnership.
It’s important to try and hold realistic expectations of yourself, your partner and of your relationship during this time. You likely will be exhausted and find you have little time, and sometimes patience, for each other. Try to remind yourself and each other that this is a normal and expected part of the newborn phase. This is just a phase, and things won’t always be this way. Try to show yourselves grace, compassion and empathy.
Teamwork – playing to your strengths
Try to remember that you are a team, working together with individual strengths and weaknesses! Take some time to think together about what each of your strengths and weaknesses are, and the tasks that you prefer and dislike the most. Try to play to your strengths and preferences, using this information to help inform how you share our tasks and responsibilities between you.
Bucking the trend and doing what works for you
In the early days of parenthood, you are bombarded with messages of what you ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t be doing. This isn’t limited to baby care but includes how you operate as a couple. Try to recognize when you are doing something because you feel you ‘should’ rather than because it really makes sense for your baby, you as a couple or family. It can feel really hard to ‘buck the trend’ but try and take time to think about what really works best for your baby, for you as a couple and a family as a whole and put this in place.
Identifying and expressing our needs
It’s important to be open and honest about how you are feeling and what you want and need, including from your partner. It is our job to articulate clearly what we want and need from them, but we also need to be aware that our partner may not have the capacity to hear or meet this need. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to meet our needs.
Support outside the couple relationship
If your partner is at capacity and can’t hear or meet your needs who else can? Do you have friends that will listen and support? Can you bring someone in to do the cleaning? Can you sign up to a meal prep company or get someone in to walk the dog?
Navigating the early months of parenthood is undoubtedly challenging. By having realistic expectations of yourself and your partner, having open and honest communication, playing to your strengths, doing what works for you as a family and thinking carefully about the support available to you, you can weather the storms of early parenthood!
Remember, a strong partnership lays the foundation for a nurturing and loving home for your little one.
Written by: Dr Charlotte Cousins