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How to Keep Your Relationship Strong After Having a Baby

How to Keep Your Relationship Strong After Having a Baby

Becoming Parents, Together.

Welcoming a new baby into the world can be one of the most exciting and joyful times for a couple… and also one of the hardest. It’s unfortunately very common to have marriage problems after baby. As marriage counselors and family therapists we often see that most couples spend so much time and energy preparing for the birth, and how to take care of their newborn, they neglect to think about how they’ll keep their relationship strong after baby.

The relationship issues they experience after having a baby can therefore catch them by surprise, and feel all the more challenging to resolve in the stressful weeks and months following the birth of a child.

Just like we encourage couples getting married to get premarital counseling to prevent future problems, we encourage pregnant couples to proactively prepare their relationships for life-after baby. Today, we’re here to help provide some guidance for preventing relationship problems after having a baby, or for healing your relationship if it feels like things have gotten harder since becoming parents together.

Common Marriage Problems After Baby

Many couples report relationship issues after baby. Why? It’s because having a new child to care for together is uniquely stressful, and it requires you two to work together as a couple in a different way than you ever had before. Furthermore, you’re likely both feeling depleted, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed. Plus, when your baby needs something, it feels like an emergency!

In this emotional, hormonal, and circumstantial pressure-cooker frustrations flare, and resentments simmer, particularly when things are feeling out of balance between you and unspoken expectations are going unmet.

Many women report feeling disconnected from their husband after having a baby, often due to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, and because it’s difficult for their partners to know how to support them — physically, emotionally, and in terms of practical help. Men too can experience disconnection from their partners after the birth of a child, often due to feeling suddenly secondary to this new little being who needs so much care and attention.

Having a new baby requires couples to renegotiate boundaries, establish new ways of doing things, and enter brand new emotional territory together — all while sleep-deprived and stressed. It’s a a new chapter that involves a great deal of personal growth work, both for each partner individually, and as a couple. It’s no wonder that many couples struggle as they make their way forward, together.

Relationship Changes After Baby

In addition to the new challenges couples face around how to work as a team to care for their baby, they may temporarily lose many of the fun bonding activities they once shared. Many couples need to rebuild their sexual relationship (slowly!) after the birth of a child. It’s also generally much more difficult to spend time alone doing fun things than it was in the past. (You’ll find very few brand new parents at a weekend-music festival, for example).

However, strong couples learn how to find new things to enjoy together. While having time alone is still important (date night, anyone?) it’s extremely helpful to find ways of having fun and connecting around your parenting role too.

Building a Strong, Happy Family  — Together

The good news is that through preparation and communication, couples can not just avert marriage problems after baby but enter a new era of strength and satisfaction in their relationship. Yes, things change, but many couples report feeling more deeply committed to each other and their new life as a family together in the months and years after their first child.

The early stages of new parenthood require working out kinks, and learning how to work as a team in a whole new way. Having a happy marriage after parenthood means learning new ways of communicating, connecting, and enjoying life together.

Because this transition to parenthood can feel so challenging for many couples, we’re devoting a whole episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to supporting you through it. Marriage and family therapist and parenting coach Jessica Small will be sharing her tips for how to not just keep your relationship strong after baby, but set yourself up for success in the years to come.

Listen now to get Jessica’s advice for how to:

  • Prepare your relationship for a baby
  • Have crucial conversations that will help you work through issues as they come up
  • How to support each other emotionally after having a baby
  • Practice practical strategies to make things easier for both of you
  • Keep a compassionate mindset
  • Create a happy new chapter for your marriage

We hope that this information helps you successfully transition from being a happy couple to a happy family!

Sincerely,

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT and Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LMFT

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How to Keep Your Relationship Strong, After Baby

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star,   “Blister in the Sun” (New Wave Lullabies Vol. 1,)

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Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a couples counselor, premarital counselor, therapist, and life coach who is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.

In addition to working with private clients, Jessica leads our Online Postpartum Support Group.

Learn More About Jessica

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More Relationship Advice

Parenting Two Under Two: Strategies For Success

Parenting Two Under Two: Strategies For Success

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.

Jessica is also the facilitator of the Postpartum Support Group that meets Mondays online at 9 AM MST. 

From One Mom to Another…

Yes, I’m a marriage and family therapist but I’m also a mom. I was 6 months postpartum with my first baby when I found out I was pregnant with my second. This was not exactly a planned event and I am a consummate planner. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed and terrified. I felt like I was just getting my parenting sea legs and was suddenly going to be thrown into a momentous storm.

So I did what any person would do, I panicked and then consulted the internet, asking “how to survive two under two?” My babies are now 1 and 2, and we’re all okay. I can confidently say we made it through the first year, and I learned many things along the way.

While the one thing I know to be consistently true is that nothing is consistent and that the next year will bring a whole new set of triumphs and challenges, there are a few tips I have for living (not just surviving) with two under two.

Two Under Two: How To Make it Work

Help your oldest kid first

I remember reading this same piece of advice over and over again and it always seemed backwards to me. I thought my newborn would be so helpless that they would need my attention immediately while my older one was a bit more self-sufficient and could wait. However, in practice, I found this advice to be gold.

With the exception of any safety/imminent threat issues I attended to my older child first and once I got her settled, I was able to fully attend to my baby. My older child was generally easier and quicker to serve and once she was settled I had enough time to fully give the baby what he needed.

Trust that you have enough love and time for them both

I was afraid that having a second child so soon was going to mean I was going to miss out on my first. I was nervous that I wouldn’t have enough love or time for them both and that my first child was going to get lost in the needs of a newborn.

One of the many things having children has taught me is that love is infinite, endless and brutally intense. Love can expand far beyond the reaches you could ever expect and there is always room for more. You can trust that your heart will make space for your growing family, it always does.

As for time, I would be lying if I said that having two children did not create limitations on my time, but that was going to be true no matter what the age gap! What I found was that I became more intentional and present with my time. Because I was afraid of not having enough of it, I was more thoughtful when I did have it. I started to cherish the baby’s morning nap because it gave me space to give my oldest my full attention.

I also reminded myself that it’s good for kids to learn to not be the center of attention, to have to entertain them self, to share, to practice patience to realize that the universe has many people in it and there is enough love and space for them all.

Find a routine that gives you a break

Nap time is one of my favorite times of the day. It is a much-needed break from parenting. I love my kids but I also love the break from them, it is like coming up for air after being submerged by the endless needs of others.

When my second baby came I vowed to get them on a schedule that allowed me this break. Although it took some time, I aligned their naps so that most afternoons I get at least an hour break (here are some parenting tips around sleep schedules, if you’re interested). That break is my haven, my time to reset, check out, get a task done or read a book. That break is imperative to my survival.

Be kind to yourself

The day after I brought home my son from the hospital my daughter fell off the bed. I was holding the baby and saw it happen but couldn’t get to her in time. She cried. I cried. We both survived. Things happen. Be kind to yourself.

Breathe

Honestly, of all my tips, this one is the best. Breathe. When both babies scream you’re entire drive…breathe. When you’re overwhelmed and exhausted…breathe. When your one child poops in the tub that both children are in…breathe (and yes, this did happen). Focus hard on that breath and say to yourself “this too shall pass.”

It always does.

You’ve got this.

Sincerely,
Jessica

PS: If you are in the thick of parenting babies, toddlers or both, and are looking for more practical tips and emotional support – I hope you consider joining our online postpartum support group. We laugh, we cry, and recently washed hair is absolutely optional. 😉

 

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How To Deal With Difficult Parents

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Do you have issues with your parents?

If so, you’re normal. As a therapist, family therapist, and life coach I know that many, if not most, people in their twenties, thirties, and forties are still working through different aspects of their relationships with their parents. This doesn’t mean rehashing the past, but rather letting go of old, self-limiting baggage so that you can move forward into the life you design.

Though this work can be challenging, it can also be absolutely necessary for you to re-define your relationships with your family of origin as you grow into your happiest, healthiest, “best self.” Understanding how you relate/d to your family can also be profoundly important to understanding how you relate to your spouse and children.

Sometimes, this work involves healing, and forgiving your parents for things that happened in the past. You may need to learn how to establish healthy adult relationships with your parents, as you create your own family. Or, you might need to set boundaries with your parents, and release the responsibility and guilt your’re carrying.

It’s a lot, and for many this type of work can feel very “big” and overwhelming. So on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m going to be talking you through some really common “parent problems” that adults face, and give you some tips for how to resolve them successfully. This episode might be helpful to you if you have:

  1. Critical parents, judgmental parents or (shiver) narcissistic parents.
  2. Intrusive parents, controlling parents, or generous parents who give gifts with strings attached.
  3. Parents who are a mess, and emotionally or financially dependent on you.
  4. Unfinished emotional business with parents who have disappointed you, or hurt you.

Yes, these are deep topics, but ones I know that so many of you can relate to. I hope that the advice I share here can help you to not just create healthier and happier relationships with your parents, but can launch you on your own empowering journey of healing and growth.

May peace be with you,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success Podcast

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Nourishing and Nurturing Your Marriage After Kids

Nourishing and Nurturing Your Marriage After Kids

A Happy, Healthy Marriage is The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Children.

 

It is wonderful that expecting parents put so much time, energy and resources into preparing for childbirth by taking childbirth classes, and new-baby care classes. Making sure that baby’s entry into the world is as peaceful and joyful as possible is important. Learning how to properly care for a baby is the responsible, loving thing to do.

 

Aaaannnnd, as a marriage counselor, I so wish that more couples would put even a fraction of the same thoughtfulness into learning how to keep their relationship healthy after they have a child. Because, in my opinion, the greatest gift you can give your children is a strong, stable family with parents that love and respect each other. And while that is absolutely possible after babies arrive, it requires intentional effort to make it happen.

 

Babies Change Don’t Have to Change Everything 

 

It is true that having a fun, enjoyable relationship feels naturally easier before babies. Date nights happen on a whim, weekend music festivals or snowboarding trips are not out of the question, meaningful conversations are not interrupted by howling, and sex is, well, sexier without a bassinet in the room.

 

It is also true that after babies arrive, amazing, hilarious and joyful experiences are still possible for your relationship — PLUS you now have a shared sense of meaning and purpose that was unimaginable before you looked at your precious child’s face together for the first time. However, parenthood requires you to take your teamwork and communication to a whole new level, while also providing each other with unconditional emotional support as you navigate a new chapter of your lives.

 

Upping your game as a couple is not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Throw in some baby blues, new-mom / dad anxiety, sleep deprivation, and a “Holy-Crap-I-Have-a-Kid” existential crisis, and interactions can get intense. Nurturing and nourishing your marriage as you journey into parenthood together requires intention, thoughtfulness, and some practical strategies. And regrettably, your local hospital or birth center does not offer this as a class like “Daddy Bootcamp” or “Breastfeeding 101.”

 

Would you like to talk?

Schedule your free consultation. Meet online or in person.

Talking Relationships With Real Food Mamas

So of course I was absolutely thrilled when internationally recognized Nutritionist and Dietician (and Healthy Living Guru) Aglaée Jacob of Radicata Nutrition invited me to talk about this subject on her podcast, Real Food Mamas. If you’re not yet familiar with their show, it’s all about “natural pregnancy, undisturbed birth, and healthy living for the whole family” that emphasizes an organic, holistic lifestyle founded on whole foods nutrition.

 

We talked about how to keep relationship bonds strong and healthy after baby comes. I specifically addressed:

  • Common (and avoidable!) pitfalls that new parents face
  • Practical strategies couples can use to stay connected after baby comes
  • How to improve your ability to work together, even under stress
  • How to recognize when more serious problems may be brewing in your marriage
  • And more!

Click here to listen or find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher!

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