Have you started baby-proofing your house?
In the coming months you’ll secure lower cabinets, pack away that sharp-edged glass coffee table, and lower your hot water heater temp … there are countless tips sharing how to ensure your home is ready for your new baby!
But, have you baby-proofed your marriage?
During pregnancy, we prepare in so many ways for the changes that pregnancy and childbirth bring, However, we often forget to look at how becoming parents will shift our relationships. Have you thought about how you and your partner will handle the transition to parenthood?
In their excellent book, Birthing From Within (1998), authors Pam England and Rob Horowitz, describe how successful couples navigate this transition, these couples have:
“the ability to surrender individual goals and needs and work together as a team.”
These couples become a team of “us”, sharing the load between them, picking up where the other left off and ending the day feeling like they have support in the other.
If these couples do have conflict, they are able to resolve it in a mutually satisfying manner, no one is left feeling that they are alone in feeling stressed about this major life transition. The authors also offer some excellent “survival hints” such as:
- Lowering your housekeeping standards – aim for good enough instead of sparkling clean!
- Achieving a 50/50 balance is almost impossible, sometimes one or the other partner will do more of the heavy lifting, things have a way of evening out over time…
- Conflict will happen – it’s normal, healthy and can bring about necessary changes. There is a way to argue that leaves both people feeling like they’ve been heard. Establish ground rules and try your best to stick to them!
- Realize that becoming parents will change your relationship, things will be different than they were pre-baby.
It can be helpful to think about how you’ll handle post-baby conflict. What could you see as a possible area of irritation to your relationship? For most new parents, conflicts often arise about division of labour, changes to their relationship (egged on by stress, lack of sleep, feeling isolated etc), money, work and social life. What do you anticipate being an issue for you and your partner?
Brainstorming before bringing baby home can be so helpful. Why not come up with some ideas of how you’ll handle the workload of parenthood, how you’ll keep communication positive and open when you’re feeling tired to the bone!
Try the exercise below – it’ll give you a blueprint for resolving issues as they come up during those early parenting days.
- Each of you brainstorm what you see as potential issues.
- Share your lists with each other.
- Pick one of the issues and come up with a few solutions that you both agree would be helpful.
- Keep your list! If/when the issue comes up, you’ve got a ready solution or at least a good starting point to encourage communication!
Make baby-proofing your marriage fun! Create your own rules, build in de-stressors for each person and for you as a couple. Let go of those images you see in the media of perfect families; you and your partner are the architects of your own unique family!