Staying In Love after Baby – 4 things all couples should practice

8550838313_988bb45500 There’s nothing quite like a new addition to the family to put stress on a couple’s relationship. While a baby brings with it so much joy and more often than not, increased connection between partners, it also adds multiple demands on the couple and can wear resources thin. Juggling the role of parent with the role of partner can sometimes be tricky, especially under conditions where you are sleep-deprived, emotionally-drained and can’t remember the last time you sat down and had 5 minutes just to yourself. In times as such , it’s easy to become more reactive and less patient with each other, more critical and less appreciative- which can not only increase conflict & tension but also start emptying that tank of compassion & good will which is essential to fueling your relationship.

To keep that love and connection alive during times of added stress – I recommend the following 4 easy tips for couples:

1) Give Your Partner the Benefit of the Doubt – Our mammalian brains love to over-estimate the negative. Beyond this, we have a trigger-happy warning system for ‘Danger’ that over-estimates the risk of threat all the time. As such, when you get triggered by something in your relationship and start to see red ( again which is much more common when physical/emotional resources are thin), your brain will probably also be telling your story about how your partner is ‘to blame entirely’ for something that has happened which they did ‘on purpose’ or ‘because they don’t care’/ ‘are selfish’/’too lazy for their own good’ get the gist. Instead of going with this story , I recommend that you take a deep breath and get curious. Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt by assuming there may be a benign reason for any of their actions/miscommunications – and asking questions from a place of curiosity can help you transcend dialogues around blame and anxiety. Keep in mind what you appreciate about your partner. Staying calm and holding your partner in positive regard also keeps the two of you on the same side – which is where you’ll want to be most of the time if you’re to paddle your way through life’s more challenging times together. This brings me to my next tip – the Soft Start-Up which is all about starting off conversations as calmly and lovingly as possible.

2) Practice the Soft Start-Up – Couples researcher and psychologist John Gottman is a strong advocate for starting conversations with your partner from a place of softness. He says that how you start is ultimately how you will finish and that conversations that which are initiated well ultimately have a much higher chance of finding positive resolution. Conversations that start off negatively with criticism and/or anger/blaming  for example, have a 90 percent chance of failing according to his statistics. If you start with disconnection – you stay disconnected.  So the next time you feel like you’re going to flip your lid about something , take a long walk or listen to some calming music before you engage with your partner. Regulate those reactive emotions down so that you can start off the conversation from a place of as much kindness and objectivity as possible. Perhaps express an appreciation before getting into the trickier stuff to set a positive tone. ” Honey, I know it probably was not your intention to …however….” is another example of how to start of a conversation softly. As hard as this might seem at first, in the short and longterm, the impacts of it will be hugely beneficial for the quality and outcomes of your conversations with your partner – and ultimately how connected you feel to each other. For more on how to engage in a soft start up , you can read this article.

3) Do Things that You did before Baby arrived – Even though time may be more scarce now that there’s another being in the mix , it is essential that you and your partner make time to do things together without Baby. You are the essential power battery of this family unit and deserving of a regular re-charge – in fact, its non-negotiable if things are to continue sputtering along in a healthy and happy fashion. Penning in a date a week where you can go off, be carefree and have a laugh ( even if you’re just talking about baby stuff) tends to be a nice weekly refuelling and will help to keep that love tank on the fuller side.

4) Take Responsibility for What’s in Your Backpack – This last tip is about staying mindful of the stress that you are carrying around because of this life transition ( and perhaps other current factors) . While your partner can be supportive and provide a listening ear, ultimately it is dangerous to assume that he/she is the sole custodian of your happiness.  If you’re feeling like your resources are thin, you have a responsibility to practice good self-care and do things that help you re-charge. If you feel you’re carrying around too many rocks in your back pack ( in the form of stress/resentment/anxiety or example), you have the responsibility to learn to unburden yourself of some of this dead weight through constructive means ( and speak to friends/a professional/read if you’re not sure of what these might be). When you sustain your own tank, you will not only have much more to give both your baby and partner, you’ll feel more empowered and in control of inviting health and happiness into your life.

While there will be ups and downs , I hope that these 4 tips will make the ride a little smoother and the work together a little easier. For more on relationship advice and support, you can contact Anoushka at 

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