When partners become parents their relationship can become less satisfying; the demanding roles of mother and father can be unsettling and we may feel we are growing apart rather than closer together. But a new sense of closeness can develop from sharing the joys and challenges of raising a family. The stronger our relationship becomes the more united we will be as parents.
To be More Confident and United as Parents
Exercise Giving compliments
Becoming parents can be an unsettling time for both partners in a relationship, and in different ways. Many couples feel less satisfied with their relationship after they’ve had a baby and in the early years of parenting. When we feel tired and perhaps anxious and emotional, it’s hard to find the energy to focus on each other and at the same time as dealing with all the demands that children bring. Sometimes becoming a parent can trigger memories of our own childhood experiences, which can be upsetting. Finding ways of supporting each other can help us to be more prepared for the ups and downs of parenthood.
Parenthood is a unique time when partners can establish a new sense of togetherness, a ‘we-ness’ that expands to include our children. A new kind of closeness develops that is all about sharing the joys and challenges of parenthood. But if we feel unsupported, we may feel we’re growing further apart rather than closer together.
This is an important time to build solidarity as a couple and as parents. When we’re feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities it’s easy to feel unappreciated. This exercise is about boosting each other’s confidence and giving reassurance by finding ways to let your partner know that they’re doing a good job; acknowledging and respecting their contributions (even if it’s not the way you would have done it!) and showing a united front by supporting each other’s decisions.Start Exercise
Exercise Our family's customs
Becoming a new family often involves a big shift in how we see ourselves – we take on a whole new role in life. As a result our relationship with each other and others will inevitably change as a result. This shift in identity can happen in different ways and in a different time frame for each partner. Quite often mothers feel entirely transformed by their experience of pregnancy and childbirth, and the close early bond between mother and baby. For fathers, the change can be less intense, but his transformation is just as important if you are to achieve a strong family identity.
As you go about your family life together you are building the story of your relationship and your family. Building a shared narrative helps to create a strong sense of identity as a couple nd as a family. And that narrative will need revisiting as children grow and the challenges of parenting change . A shared understanding of your lives together doesn't mean having to agree on everything, but it does mean finding ways of meshing your lives together.
Some partners want to go back to traditions and ways of doing things that they were brought up with, which might lead to a 'your family' and 'my family' competition. But the important thing is to shape your own family traditions and to work out together what you think is best for your family. These could come from your own family traditions, things that you loved and looked forward to. Or you might choose things that you feel you lacked or wished for. Recognise that you can shape your lives together for the future.Start Exercise