Having a newborn can put a lot of stress on a relationship. Understandably, most of your focus is on the baby rather than on your partner because newborns are totally dependent on attention and care.
You may be exhausted, overwhelmed, and getting hardly any sleep. It’s no surprise that many relationships start to experience difficulty after the birth of the first child.
Relationships tend to do best despite the physical and emotional challenges of parenting when BOTH partners are engaged and try to do the following:
1. Show love and respect to one another,
2. Help and support each other,
3. Willingly do at least half of the overall work rather than focus on making sure that the other person is doing his or her fair share,
4. Be patient with your partner’s irritability due to exhaustion, and above all,
5. Cultivate your sense of wonder, gratitude, and humor.
No matter what, it is important to be able to get support when you need it. The most effective way to ask for help is to make a positive, specific request rather than a demand, command, or complaint. Your request will be most compelling when you show appreciation in your tone of voice and wording. For example,
“I know you’re tired, but I would really appreciate it if you could feed the baby tonight. I’m just exhausted.”
Having perspective helps ease the stress of feeling submerged. Keep in mind the bigger picture, namely,
that challenges are part of life,
that parenting is demanding but fleeting and rewarding, and
that with a little bit of luck, eventually you get out of life and relationships what you put into them!
And if not, at least you can feel good about having done the best you could!
by Alison Poulsen, PhD
Recommended Movie: Jennifer Westfeldt’s “Friends with Kids.”