Holding on to the couple relationship

27 March 2012

Holding on to a sense of self as a partner and lover, as well as a new parent, can be difficult in the early years. But the adult relationship needs nurturing as well as the relationship with the baby.

It can be helpful for new parents to think about clues and cues.

Men and women adjust to their new roles at different rates

New parents will be good at picking up the clues their baby gives them as to how they are feeling. These clues act as cues to meeting their needs. So thinking about the clues your partner may be trying to send in a similar way can be helpful for better understanding how they are feeling.

Because men and women adjust to their new roles at different rates it’s important new parents do not assume they are always feeling in the same place at the same time.

Some things that can help new parents.

  • Making time to talk to each other – at times when neither parent is feeling angry or resentful about who does what.
  • Making sure roles feel more like choices than the accidental fall-out of having a baby.
  • Trying to appreciate each other and the different changes each of them is going through.
  • Trying not to criticise too much – judging, accusing and criticising will not help the situation, although it can feel  difficult not to at times.
  • Focusing on the positive things each partner does, reminding each other about them, and encouraging rather than criticising.
  • Turning to somebody – when things are tough, and partners can’t talk, turning to friends or family who will give unbiased advice. Building friendships with people in similar situations may also help, as can talking to a trusted GP, midwife or health visitor, or someone from the church or faith community. They are used to talking to couples having a hard time.
  • Making time themselves and each other. As individuals, to give each partner a break and ease tension; as a family, by taking care of the baby together sometimes; and as a couple, by going out together like they did before the baby. Things like this can help keep couples talking.