How new parents can strengthen their relationship

27 March 2012

During stressful times, couples often find it very hard to communicate and feel misunderstood or ‘not heard’ by their partner.

During pregnancy and the first few months both partners will cope better if they can identify specific ways of supporting each other. However, men and women often have different views on how to be supportive.

New fathers often feel their partner wants them to find the answers, whereas what new mothers want is to share their desperation at feeling unable to meet their baby’s needs. She’ll also be looking for reassurance that she’s doing her best and is a good mother.

Many men feel overwhelmed by being the ‘breadwinner’ and the feeling that this is their main role. What they actually crave is attention and to be let in more, and as such they can feel angry with their partner (and sometimes with the baby).

Both parents can be left feeling unsupported and unloved, which can lead to further difficulties if not dealt with. In reality, both still want the same things: to be happy together with their baby and to be comforted and supported by each other. Couples who get through the difficult early months can find a deeper bond emerging – as there is great pleasure in enjoying the baby together.

What most new parents want is simply reassurance from their partner

Working out ‘how’ to be a parent 

New parents often argue about differences over how to handle the baby; pick her up or leave her? Feed on demand or four hourly? Should they follow their parents’ methods, and if so, whose parents? Mothers may feel they know best because they generally spend more time with the baby so know them better, but sometimes they won’t let their partner help because he ‘doesn’t do it my way’.  However, what most new parents want is simply reassurance from their partner.

Too much questioning of one partner’s handling of the baby can make them feel undermined and unsupported. So it’s better to talk through any differences in opinion calmly; criticism on either side will only make things worse.

New parents often find it difficult to find time to talk, on top of knowing what to say. They may bottle up their feelings or become more argumentative due to tiredness and irritability; it can feel like they’re on different sides and they may start to feel hurt and resentful.