And then there was three and your little fantasy of how wonderful life was going to be is quickly fading. You find your partner intensely irritating to the point of wanting to ‘slit his throat’ OK perhaps that’s a bit strong but you’re slowly seeing that he’s NOT living up to your expectations in the ‘daddy’ department. Your ‘sick to death’ of him thinking you sit at home all day with your feet up and really resent being the one to take on the majority of the chores, seaminly because you’re at home. Well kiddo you’re not on your own. Relationships take a beating and certainly change in the transition to parenthood. Now there’s a surprise! Well, not really considering every single part of your life is not left untouched by this little addition to the family. I bet your now starting to see what a massive deal this parenthood thing is aren’t you?
So what can we do to make sure we’re not heading for the divorce courts in the future!
Well, it’s not easy, and I never, ever said it would be. But you owe it to yourself and your partner and your child to work on your relationship
1. Your first PRIORITY being your relationship
Making your relationship a priority is not selfish. You are adults with needs too. It really isn’t just about the baby. We all get so fixated about being perfect parents that we forget to care for ourselves and our relationship. Relationships take time and effort. You have permission to spend some time together away from your child.
See my board on p-interest “DATE NIGHT” its not all about going out.
Maybe you could set up a ‘babysitting circle.’ Do you have friends with young children? That way you could look after each others children so you all get some couple time? You’ll all benefiting from time out and will know and trust the babysitter too. Win, win situation.
2. Better ways to argue
Everyone argues and given the amount of changes that are taking place in the transition to parenthood it’s no wonder that couples feel they row more.
However, according to John Gottman – Executive Director of the Relationship Research Institute it’s not about how many times a day we row with each other. It’s more about how we row. Destructive ways of arguing include: Being defensive, criticising, contempt and not wanting to discuss issues with each other.
John recommends planning an amicable discussion and thinking carefully about what you want to say beforehand in order that you don’t start a conversation with anger and aggression. I know easier said than done, but it’s worth bearing in mind. We all know that it’s easier to say things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment.
Beware of your feelings and emotions. Take time to reflect and ask yourself why you are reacting the way you are. What is really bothering you? Is there something more? Be honest with yourself and your partner.
Compromise. Listen to what you both want, and then try to work out a solution that you are both relatively happy with. One of you should never feel compromised.
Easier said than done when we are in the heat of a row, but it does make perfect sense. Maybe it’s worth thinking about these points in the future.
3. Sharing the load.
Have you fallen into a bit of a rut with the household chores? Are you starting to feel resentful? It’s quite often the case when we become mothers that we take on the ‘lions share’ of the domestic chores. This usually tends to happen when maternity leave starts. We spend all day at home with plenty of time on our hands. But once that bambino comes along we have little time to go for a WEE nevermind make a meal! Have you explained the reality to your partner lately? Maybe it just needs saying.
Otherwise it can become a real ‘bone of contention.’ Dad’s think we’re at home all day doing nothing. It’s sometimes really difficult for them to accept how tiring it can be looking after a baby 24/7. But equally your partner also has the responsibility of going to work and providing financially for you and baby, that too can be a drain and worry for your partner. Try to see both sides of the coin.
Are things about to change? Maybe your planning on going back to work. Will you still be responsible for all the chores?
Have an honest conversation about sharing the workload. What do you expect of each other.? Can the chores be split fairly. Does one of you enjoy cooking more than shopping. Can the shopping be done online so neither of you really have to bother with it. Can you both take it in-turns to ‘batch cook and freeze meals so it’s not ultimately any ones responsibility to provide a meal through the week when your both tired. Can you take it in turns to catch up on sleep at the weekend?
Most importantly, go easy on yourselves. You are both adjusting to a massive transition. One of the biggest transitions of adult life. Try to be mindful of this and work together to get through the challenges. Share your thoughts with each other. Spend time MAKING time for each other even if it just means a snuggle on the sofa watching TV or making sure you hit the sack TOGETHER even if it is just for SLEEP 😉
P.S. Remember you are not on your own. 83% of couples have moderate to severe relationship problems in the early years, this period of transition can be that challenging to navigate. Just because parents don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
This really is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how relationships change and I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months.