Is it possible to preserve marital intimacy and rekindle romance after baby arrives? In 'And Baby Makes Three' John and Julie Gottman address these issues by teaching skills needed to maintain healthy marriages so partners can avoid the pitfalls of parenthood by:
- Focusing on intimacy and romance
- Replacing an atmosphere of criticism and irritablilty with one of appreciation
- Preventing postpartum depression
- Creating a home environment that nurtures physical, emotional and mental health, as well as cognitive and behavioral development of your baby
What happens to a couple when a baby arrives?
Well we know this should be one of the happiest days of your life, right? And we know that millions of babies are born every year.
"Studies have shown that after the first baby was born, relationship satisfaction dropped significantly for two-thirds of the couples. Conflict within the relationship and hostility towards each other dramatically increased. They found themselves fighting more. Their emotional intimacy deteriorated. They became bewildered and exhausted. Not surprisingly, their passion, sex and romance plummeted."
I think I was part of this study. Learning to share each other with a newborn was quite the task. Learning to how to cope with constant interruptions was something we were not used to. The exhaustion was real. The lack of sleep was inevitable. Passion? What's that again? Shorter tempers were definitely a reality.
"For example, the blood pressure of babies rise when they witness or overhear their parents fighting."
Well just don't fight or argue in front of baby, right? Easier said than done in my humble opinion. I'm still learning this process and it's not that I have huge fights with my husband, but there are days when tensions rise and tones differ and he picks up on it...and even tells us to stop arguing and talk nice to each other. Out of the mouths of babes, right?
"Apparently, sleep deprivation sometimes biologically results in depression, even when there is nothing to be depressed about."
It's wise to address these issues before baby arrives talking about everything from sleep, methods of feeding baby, who is going to make meals and do the laundry so that things are in place and discussed prior to sleep deprivation when emotions tend to run high.
The authors talk in detail about negative feelings during a fight and positive ways to address them. They dive into conflict resolution, repair statements, compromise, two sides to every story, emotion, feelings and literally everything else in between. At the end of each chapter is a check-list and a exercise to practice with your partner. For example, they give a list of perpetual issues - those ones that just don't go away and always seem to resurface. "Differences in how to raise and discipline children. One of you is stricter with the children than the other" and they teach the idea of the WHY behind it - Mr. Joe had a regimented childhood with strict rules while Mrs. Joe was allowed to do whatever she wanted. Thus, they bring that into they way they parent which causes tension but until the root of the issue is discussed, no one really knows why it upsets the other when they discipline differently.
When it comes to life after baby there are so many things that come into play, and the stats are clear about what lack of sleep can do to ones body and mind. So if ahead of time we can practice healthy ways to communicate and parent and keep in mind some of these things along the way, then we have a bit of a better chance don't we? I'm looking for all the help I can get as this road called 'PARENTING' is not an easy one....anyone else agree on that?
Lastly they talk about savoring your friendship and rekindling that energy that connected you in the first place. Just to clarify, I'm not a couples counselor but I am passionate about families connecting and communicating to make their relationship the best it can be. And I know first hand that the postpartum period after a new baby arrives is a bit of a roller-coaster and I'm all about finding the best support to ensure a healthy go at it right from the start.
~mama bird doula