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Transition to Parenthood -Relationships


 A 'bundle of joy' or a bundle of stress and strain...

Most couples look forward to the birth of their first child with great anticipation, excitement and joy combined with a little fear of what may lie ahead. Few couples, if any, will take the time to discuss at length the inevitable changes that the birth of their child will bring to both their own lives as well as to the relationship. 
The emphasis on the birth of a first child is naturally on the joy of the occasion rather than any concerns that lies in the background. We hear stories from others about how hard it is and whilst we take that on board, we also harbour a secret belief that we will probably do it better!

"the reality of the child-centered life takes hold at the expense of the relationship"


The birth of the first baby for a couple has been identified as one of the biggest challenges and threats that a marriage can face.  New parents will struggle with multiple issues. They occur in a messy package, not in neat sequential order.  


Once the joy of birth has settled, the reality of a child-centered life takes hold at the expense of the relationship. The operative words here are child centered life. They determine when you get up, when you rest, and in the early days even when you toilet and shower! It's not surprising that after a few years of this a marriage frequently begins to show increased signs of strain and stress along with expressions of unhappiness and frustration.   

Typically, couples are unsure as to how to express their feelings on these matters, and when they do venture into such conversations, anger and frustration can quickly erupt.  Unresolved conflict may in time lead to couples eventually deciding to separate.


"refocus on the relationship and make a habit of it"

The most common issues include post natal depression, lack of sexual intimacy and affection, sleep deprivation, loss of energy and motivation, increased irritability and arguing, difficulty negotiating roles and responsibilities, loss of career and contact with work colleagues, an increased sense incompetence, as well as isolation and loneliness.


Any of these issues can be experienced by both men and women alike and may occur simultaneously.  Many previously contented couples find themselves at the brink of despair.The good news is, not all relationships fall apart after the birth of a child, many couples manage the changes and challenges with less difficulty. They refocus on the relationship and make a habit of it as their child grows and demands change.



 How do you refocus..... ??


Most importantly... make your relationship a priority - all too often couples place their child at the centre of their lives and neglect the relationship   

  • Communicate - talk with each other about what you are thinking, feeling and experiencing; listen to each other here. Read beneath the lines, look for discontent. You both need to feel good about your shared lives.
  • Encourage and support each other - let your partner know that they are important to you.
  • Have fun - new parents easily forget to take time out for themselves and simply enjoy other activities.
  • Learning to manage time effectively - coming to terms with what can be accomplished and organized is vital to reducing stress in the family.  Your child will cope with a little integration into your activities too. Achieving and maintaining family harmony is a big issue around these matter.
  • Create support networks - negotiate with extended family and friends to lend a hand with babysitting or simply to talk over concerns with.
  • Build in time just for you .  It is easy to either forget your own needs or to place your wants and needs at the bottom of the list.  


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