Transition From Couple to Family
Babies are truly amazing. They bring much joy into our lives. Babies have the ability to make you experience a love deeper than you have ever felt was possible. And given the fact you and your partner are responsible for this tiny and precious new life, makes the experience even more special.
However, with all the joy and love of welcoming in a new baby, often comes difficulties and challenges of which can be stressful and tough on any relationship. The keys to keeping a relationship strong during major life transitions, such as babies, work transitions, moving, illness, etc., are the same as those needed for a healthy relationship in general.
I asked Dr. Donna Bilu Martin, a working mom of a three year old and expecting her second baby, to contribute her thoughts.
“Respecting your partner and showing your partner respect is crucial. Appreciate and value their opinions and needs, even when they may differ from your own. Discussing differences in a calm, loving way will keep the lines of communication open and let each person feel safe and loved. Giving each other breaks when you feel exhausted and overwhelmed is important. Spending time together as a couple, even if just for a few hours, can foster feelings of closeness and reinforces the bond between you. Leaning on each other and working together to overcome difficult times will ultimately strengthen the relationship.”
Dr. Bilu Martin makes a valuable point. Once you and your spouse have entered the role of parent, it is crucial that you spend meaningful time with each other. This allows you to maintain a healthy and balanced relationship that will, ultimately, bring you closer together. Set up a time to make a plan together and make it a priority to make sure that it happens, because with babies come many situations where plans change spur of the moment. Also, make sure to make time for yourself, too. Don’t give up things that make you happy, such as your career, hobbies, friends, and exercising. These things are important for maintaining physical and mental health, as well as sustaining energy for your new baby and family.
Maintaining open and effective communication is very important. Listen to your partner when they express their feelings and needs, because life has changed for them, too. This will prevent harboring feelings of resentment and anger towards each other. Remember to ask one another for advice and to not make important decisions without the other’s input. Try to share the role of diaper changing, feeding, washing, etc. As the child gets older, discipline your child in a way that you both agree on. Parenthood is a partnership and one parent should not carry the burden more than the other.
Along with the joy a baby brings into a home, financial stress often makes its way into a household. Set a budget with your partner and stick to it. Start with the necessities and see where your spending can be limited. Things such as doctor bills, clothing, and daycare can add up quickly. If you haven’t planned ahead of time, you may find yourself stuck in a bad situation, causing increased strain between you and your partner. Small changes can create a huge difference.
Growing your family is a beautiful part of life that should be looked at positively and with excitement. With teamwork and open communication, your marriage and family will nurture and expand with happiness, appreciation, and lots of love!
Isaac Farin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Florida. He has a Master’s degree in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. He is a Clinical Member of the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and an Associate Member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH). Isaac is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and he is currently working on his PhD. dissertation at Nova Southeastern University. Isaac is also a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a medical meditation consultant, stress management consultant, and a mental health clinician. Isaac's true passion in the field surrounds strength-based approaches to both individual, couples, & family therapy; systemic, Ericksonian therapy and hypnosis, mindfulness, solution focused, solution oriented, and solution informed. Isaac has worked with individuals, couples and families in a variety of contexts such a private practice, outpatient psychiatric centers, psychosocial rehabilitation centers, and home-based therapy visits. He is experienced in working with clients living with substance abuse issues and mental health challenges.