Welcoming a new baby into the world is one of the greatest blessings and miracles couples experience. To many individuals and couples, having a baby is a dream come true. One that is often prayed about or anxiously anticipated for months or even years prior. However, what many people are not prepared for is the impact a new baby can have on your life and your relationship. John Gottman, the author of “And Baby Makes Three”, and fellow researchers found that nearly 70% of new parents saw a drop in relationship satisfaction and quality right after the baby was born.
Researchers accredited this drop in satisfaction to the “traumatic or stress inducing events”. Referring to the birth of the child and the following weeks of intense lack of sleep. This combination of stress can put a couple through some of the most difficult and trying times in their marriage. In contrast as they are expecting it to be the happiest and fulfilling time. In the same study, the remaining 30% of new parents actually reported increased satisfaction and love in their relationship.
So what is it that they did so differently? In a similar study conducted, the researchers break down the 30% of parents who report an increase in satisfaction and love to better understand how and what these people are doing so differently. They found two major factors that separated this group from the majority of others:
A high level of fondness in the relationship:
This was a very important factor for both new mothers and new fathers. The research showed that both partners seem to thrive in an environment of fondness during this time of transition. You can show fondness in a relationship through a number of ways. For some it is simply hearing that they are doing a good job and they are appreciated. You and your partner can practice this skill by doing a nightly appreciation exercise. Think of something your partner did that day that you appreciated and share it with them. Another way to show fondness towards your partner is through acts of love. Do something that you know your partner finds special or loves without expecting in return.
High awareness within the relationship:
A high level of awareness in a relationship comes from both partners ability to check in with themselves and one another. This can be really hard to do after such a drastic change in your lives. It may even feel overwhelming to try and think about the state of your relationship. Instead focus on one thing at a time. Focus on your own emotions first. Be aware of how the new baby has changed and effected your emotions and general well being. Then consider how your partner’s emotions and well being has changed or been affected. Thirdly, set up a weekly check in. Use this time and space to really reflect on your week and on yourself. This check in can be instrumental in your relationship flourishing during times of change and transition. During this check in ask questions such as:
What was the best part of your week?
What did we (as a couple) do well this week?
Did we do something poorly?
What do you have coming up this week?
How can I help you this week?
Here’s how you can help me…
Again, end by reinforcing fondness in the relationship by sharing something you appreciate your partner for.
Although these two factors may seem like little changes, they can make a big difference in the closeness of your relationship. When you are so focused on trying to help a baby survive and thrive you don’t want to have to worry about your relationship falling apart. Try to utilize these practices in your relationship before the baby is born so that they are habitual when things get more stressful. If you and your partner are expecting or have a new baby and want help building on or maintaining your communication and connection we’d love to help you transition into this exciting new chapter of your life. Click here to schedule your appointment today.