Updated: Oct 3
About two thirds of couples will experience a decline in relationship satisfaction after having a baby, says research by the country’s leading relationship researcher, John Gottman, PhD.
This piece of data has been well-publicized for years. But what can you do to make sure that you are not one of the 2/3? 1.Couples with a new baby eventually stop laughing as much. The baby keeps them up late, and little frustrations mount as the child grows. Who left this toy on the floor? That starts an argument now. Why did you forget to pick up diapers from the store when I wrote it down for you? There’s your latest argument.
Build room for these kinds of frustrations by combating them with specific moments when you and your partner *laugh* more. Build into the week a ritual to watch a new sitcom with one another. One couple that saw us at our relationship therapy clinic in San Francisco actually took up the habit of watching standup comedy together once a week on Netflix. This made them laugh and kept life’s hassles in perspective.
2. Everyone deserves an hour of alone time at least once a week. This ritual gives you something to look forward to. Ideally fill that time with a hobby, peace and quiet, or something that truly recharges you. It should not have work or email involved.
3. Slow down your arguments by reducing the pressure to get something ‘solved’ immediately. When someone forgets to pick something up from the store, expect the discussion to take at least 20 minutes. Find a time when you’re ready to be patient and listen to your partner’s side of the story. Then you’ll find that it’s easy to begin the conflict with, “Tell me more about the store/diaper situation. There’s probably a reasonable explanation and my goal is to have a discussion so it goes more smoothly next time.” This kind of start-up is much better than, “What is wrong with you?!"
Parenting can be a thankless job, initially. Hopefully you and your partner have the skills to support one another through this transition to parenthood. If you’d like some help, schedule a meeting with us here. We see about 200 couples per year, and would love to help you out.