We all know couples who had kids, seemed to drift apart and never really got back on the same page after becoming parents. Maybe they stayed together for the kids but didn’t really seem happy or maybe they decided the relationship wasn’t worth salvaging and decided to call it quits. We also know couples that seemed to deal with shift in their lives that parenthood brings and as a result became even closer as parents than they were before with this common goal of a healthy family uniting and strengthening them.
There is no doubt that becoming a parent brings about a host of issues that couples are forced to face. In addition to having less time for one another, you’re dealing with sleep deprivation in the earliest days, lowered levels of patience during the toddler years and eventually the crises of peer pressure as you help your older children to make the right decisions in their lives. Some couples let their relationships take a back seat while these other issues take priority while other couples thrive and figure out a way to prioritize everything. These are the differences between which come out on top and which crumble under the pressure.
Communication – It’s no secret that communication is a major key to any relationship surviving. A lack of communication or constantly mis-communicating can bring down even the strongest of couples. Having a baby is a catalyst for a relationship. No matter how strong your relationship was before a kid, it will change after having a kid and how you change your communication after will determine whether your relationship grows or wanes. After having a child, you’ll find that things that never bothered you before like your partner never putting their dishes away, now drives you absolutely insane. You’re not crazy for feeling this way. You now have more on your plate than ever before and to prevent you from being overwhelmed, you can no longer pick up this extra slack. Properly communicating simply means explaining this new dynamic to your partner rather than expecting them to read your mind and figure it out on their own.
Empathy – There’s a natural tendency for both partners to think that their lives have changed the most after having a baby. In truth, both lives have changed dramatically and to each person, this change is meaningful and significant. Attempting to understand how the addition of a new baby into your family impacts your partner rather than just how it impacts you will help you to both better support one another in the way that you need support the most.
Setting expectations – Before having kids, we all have in our head, what our future family will look like. We often make the assumption that our partner has the exact same expectations and as a result, may never communicate these expectations. The end result is that these expectations get let down. If you really and truly have a healthy relationship, you should feel comfortable talking about these expectations of what your new family will look like with your partner as well as hearing them out about their expectations. If those expectations differ, it’s important to talk it out and come to a compromise rather than feeling frustrated because your partner isn’t doing everything that you want.
Make time for each other – The parents are the foundation of the family and without a strong foundation, the rest of the family will suffer. This is why it’s important to still make time for each other once your lives have changed after having a baby. The time that you spend together will look different than it did before. You will spend more time at home than you did before and you will have a more planned life and less spontaneity. For many people, this huge change in lifestyle makes it seem as if you can’t do anything together anymore but that’s not true. You’ll just have to be more creative about how you spend your time together and make more of an effort to make sure that time together happens with frequent course corrections when you deviate from the right path. Making sure that you make time for each other will help you to stay connected and help ensure that you grow with each other as opposed to apart from one another.