Weather this is your first baby or your fourth, each time you bring a new life into your family your heart and your love grow. Even though this is the most beautiful and transformative experience, it also extremely stressful. Because I love to see families thrive, I developed a workshop that I lead at The Family Garden called Baby Proofing your Marriage. This workshop is intended to support you and your partner in creating a resilient, loving relationship in which your child will bloom.
Here are 3 tips to support you in your growing family:
1.) Appreciate one another: Research on new parents has shown that both parents are working harder after the baby is born and both parents feel under appreciated. You both will be doing more then you ever knew possible to keep your ship afloat, and your partner will likely be too busy to even notice all of the things you do. In fact, your partner may even snap at you to do more because he or she feels overwhelmed, too.
To remedy this, I recommend spending 5-10 min each night to tell each other three things you appreciate about the other. The trick here is to receive whatever it is your partner is offering. For example, your partner may appreciate what a good parent you are, how you earn money for the family, and the way you do the dishes each night after dinner. In your mind, you may be needing to feel acknowledged for the way you take care of the dog or mend the clothing. Let go of your own score keeping allow yourself to feel appreciated for at least some of the thoughtful things you do each day.
2.) Cultivate small moments of intimacy: You and your partner likely had many nights of sexual intimacy trying to create this new life, and then after the baby is born there seems to be an intimacy drought. My dear friend calls her children “love barnacles” because they co-sleep which really puts a damper on the opportunity for physical closeness. Adding to this that moms typically have a lower sex drive after giving birth (which is totally normal), sexual intimacy can feel like more of a task then something to look forward to.
To remedy this, I recommend spending at least 20 min a day turning toward each other without interruption. When the kids are asleep, you may feel too tired to actually talk. You may turn on the TV or look at social media. Don’t. If you care about your relationship, don’t tune out on electronics. Tune into each other and listen deeply. Touch each other in a loving way. Hold hands, run each other’s feet, and caress each other’s faces. The more emotional intimacy you have in your relationship, the more likely you are to want to be even closer.
3.) Be responsive to each other: All successful relationships are built on emotional intimacy. When our partner is responsive to our emotional needs, we feel loved and safe in life. Recent research has shown that new moms who have responsive partners sleep better, where those without responsive partners are more likely to develop insomnia. It is common for new parents to get so busy that both of you may feel stressed, depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
To remedy this, remember that you are choosing to do this life together, so when your partner suffers in any way stop what you’re doing and be there for him or her. Learn how to voice your needs in a loving way, and learn how to listen to your partner when he/she expresses his/her needs. This life is so much sweeter when our hearts are open to each other. This is exactly the environment that is needed for children to thrive in.
Harmony Kwiker is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Longmont, CO. Harmony believes that all of life’s experiences are here to support us in going deeper into who we really are. When we meet life with an open heart, we are able to live the life of our dreams. In her practice, Harmony specializes in postpartum mood disorders, marriage counseling, trauma, and mood disorders. At The Family Garden, Harmony has created and leads A Conscious Marriage, Baby Proofing your Marriage, The Marriage Refresher Course, Mindful Motherhood, and Moms in the Workforce. To learn more, please go to www.HarmonyKwiker.com