by Martine Bacci-Siegel
Becoming a new parent presents many challenges for couples, but can be managed with an extra dose of patience and understanding. Kathy English with “Today’s Parent” takes a look at some hurdles facing new parents today. . . .
Hurdle #1: No time for “us”
About two months after becoming a first-time mom to Jonah, now 16 months, Julie Grier realized she was lonely for her best friend — her husband, Jason. “I remember being at my new moms’ group and getting all choked up as I told the other moms, ‘I just miss my husband,’” says the Burlington, Ont., makeup artist. “I slept beside him every day, but I felt like I hardly knew him anymore.”
Maintaining the friendship and passion that binds you as a couple is difficult when both mom and dad are focused on the baby. The kind of exchange that used to come naturally now requires work.
Springboard Carolyn Pirak, director of the Seattle-based program Bringing Baby Home, says the key to a happy marriage after baby is to find ways to get close. To make that happen, she says, you have to be aware of what is going on in each other’s lives.
Research indicates couples who nurture their friendships with one another maintain greater marital satisfaction. Making the effort to stay attuned to the routine details of your partner’s life (what happened in his meeting, what you did at the park) proves that you still care about each other despite the baby’s pervasive needs.
Grier realized she had to make some effort to reconnect with her husband. Sometimes that simply means sending an email to Jason to tell him she misses him. Other times, they talk about their day over dinner at home, while Jonah sits in a chair watching a baby video.
Ann Douglas, author of 19 parenting books and a mother of four from Peterborough, Ont., suggests new parents try to find a few minutes each day to touch base over a cup of coffee or, like Grier, via email. Other suggestions: Swap child care duties with other parents and meet for a monthly lunch date; turn off Law and Order and talk instead; put baby in a stroller and go for a long walk together. Whatever you do, just keep talking.
Hurdle #2: Clashing parenting styles
Lara and Gordon MacGregor decided early on in her pregnancy that they didn’t want a family bed, so their daughter, Katya, sleeps in her own room. The couple talk openly about how to raise their baby, and usually agree on most issues. “I don’t feel like I’m in this alone,” Lara says.
The MacGregors are smart to discuss their beliefs about how to raise their daughter, and lucky to find they share the same views. But some new parents run aground on a philosophical issue, such as circumcision, feeding on demand versus a schedule and, later, discipline.
“Charlie and I have different parenting styles. He’s the fun one and that’s frustrating for me because I think he gives in too easily when I try to set limits with Nicholas and Haley,” says Lunn. “Nothing bothers Charlie, and I can fly off the handle at little things.”
Springboard Accept the inevitability of parenting conflicts — you and your partner are unlikely to see eye-to-eye on every issue, says Douglas. This is the time to be a grown-up so you must communicate, negotiate and compromise. Maybe you’ll agree to try your husband’s suggestion of scheduled feedings for three days; if it doesn’t work, he’ll support a return to your more casual style.
The entire article, with more hurdles and suggestions for overcoming them, can be found HERE.