5 Tips To Help New Parents Stay Connected To Their Partner
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Becoming a parent is often described as one of the most incredible experiences. It can be a time of incredible joy, incredible excitement and incredible change while also being an incredibly uncertain and scary time as well. Many find that the postpartum period is also a time where they experience more intense or more frequent arguments with their partner. But the fact of the matter is that with a new baby to care for, lots of decisions are being made at a rapid pace. It stands to reason then that the chances of a disagreement are increased.
1. Flip the script from negative to positive.
It is easy to get caught up in a tide of negativity. Every new parent wants the same thing – the best for their baby. To this end, new parents may gravitate towards pointing out the things their partner is doing wrong and ignoring completely the things their partner is doing well.
Try flipping the script with your partner for a week. Rather than commenting on what you don’t want your partner to do, praise them when they do something you appreciate and something that helps you. And if there is something you just can’t tolerate, set up time to have a productive conversation about it. My suggestion is to have those conversations when both are well rested and fresh (i.e., not 9pm at night!)
2. Make it a point to make time for your partner too.
With a new baby in the house, it is incredibly easy to develop tunnel vision and only focus on the needs of the baby, leaving one partner to feel neglected, angry or lonely. But really, the best thing for the whole household is to focus on the needs of everyone in it – that means your needs, your partners needs and your babies needs. Keeping this balance and making sure that both you and your partner are getting your emotional needs met can go a long way to maintaining harmony.
3. Talk about the kind of parents you want to be and how you will achieve it together.
My spouse and I love to travel and before having a baby took quite a few road trips together. This gave us time to talk about our hopes, dreams and aspirations. We talked a lot about starting a family, our careers and even where we want to retire someday. And while we talked a lot about starting a family and when, we did not talk much about the kind of parents we wanted to be. I think we assumed that because we got along well enough to live together and commit to marriage, that we would figure out how to co-parent. But these two do not always fall in line perfectly. So commit to having regular conversations about how you each want to handle certain parenting decisions. Having these conversations ahead of time will help you make the best decision, together, when the time comes.
4. Practice forgiveness.
During the postpartum period, many decisions are required to be made on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Things will be said, and feelings will be hurt. Practicing love, kindness and forgiveness with your partner will go a long way to maintaining the connectedness and intimacy that many couples say they feel slip away as new parents. Seeking first to understand rather than to be understood is a great way to mend hurt feelings and to aid in forgiving and moving forward unencumbered.
5. Focus on gratitude.
Did your partner do something out of the blue that made your morning a little bit easier. Maybe they laid out your socks so you didn’t have to fumble through the sock drawer in the dark trying not to wake them up as you are out the door to catch the early train. Or maybe your partner took out the trash without being asked after never doing so in 6 years of marriage.
See, here’s the thing. Our mindset and what we focus on goes a long way towards impacting our mood.
Try this today: when you are out running errands, see how many Hondas you meet along the way. But later, I want you to really tell me how many Toyotas you passed instead. You will likely say you saw 20 Hondas and 3 Toyotas.
The same applies to gratitude. If you go throughout your day looking for things to be grateful for, you will gloss over the inconvenient annoyances. So try looking for things that made your day easier and express your gratitude to your partner. They are more likely to keep doing the things for which they received appreciation. It also goes a long way to keeping your relationship with your partner healthy.
And at the end of the day, a healthy relationship with your partner is one of the best gifts you can give your children.
Want to learn more about nurturing your relationship with your partner as you welcome your new baby into your family? Please click here.
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COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!