Matthew Cuddeback, LCSW

So, you and your partner have a new baby. It’s likely you have heard all the words of solicited and unsolicited wisdom and cautionary tales. People are always excited to tell you how you are going to fall in love with your child the second you see them, or to tell you that you can forget all the things you used to enjoy, there’s no time to read anymore, or go out, or travel. While people are well intentioned when offering this input (usually) and can be helpful in some ways, people often times are less sure of how to have discussions that go a bit further into the more difficult areas of being a new parent and the importance of your relationship with your partner. Here are some common areas of relationship difficulty when you have a new bundle of joy at home:

Decide Who’s Opinions Matter: Everyone has an opinion about parenting. The people involved in how you raise your child can vary depending on culture and circumstance, but you and your partner need to discuss who’s opinions matter to ensure you are on the same page. You decide who’s opinion affect you.

You Are On the Same Team: It’s so easy to forget when its been five days since you slept for more than two hours at a time, but you and your partner are in this relationship and parenting together. Who’s turn is it to change the diaper? Keeping score can easily lead to resentment. Try to agree that you both should always approach the situation thinking that you are both ready and willing to take care of the baby at any given time. Everything goes smoother if you are communicating and working together, and if you discuss these things early and often you are more likely to be on the same page and be able to help balance the tasks.

A Difference in Approach is Okay: Do you think that nobody should be kissing your baby’s face until the baby has gotten their vaccines? Your partner thinks it’s okay? It’s important to understand the reasoning behind that opinion and being willing to compromise. Maybe only grandparents are allowed to give the baby a kiss and only if they not are not sick, so now your partner is happy but you have been able to stay clear about these boundaries. It’s also likely these differences in opinion will lead to a more balanced approach to raising your child.

Baby’s Needs are The Priority, but Your Partner’s Needs are No Less Important: One partner feels neglected because the other partner is always focusing on the baby. Unquestionably, the baby is depending on you for survival so their needs come first. However, it is important to know when it is a need that is urgent or it’s something that can wait. For example, your partner is interested in date night, but you are nervous your babysitter might forget to feed the baby when they are scheduled to. Is this an urgent need or something you give importance to that is not urgent? If you trust your babysitter’s ability to take care of the baby then you can plan around it while still directing your focus on your relationship. It is often the case that your children will move away and build their own lives and you return to spending most of your time with your partner, so it’s important to spend time and energy to make sure you want to spend that time together.

There is no one size fits all approach to parenting, so it is important you and your partner take the time to set boundaries and expectations and to keep channels of communication open. When you are desperate for sleep, or your mother in law is giving unsolicited parenting advice, or you wish there was more romance in your relationship, if you have spent some time building a guide for what is most important, it will be much easier to handle these situations. These are just a few ideas about some of the more common difficult areas for the relationships of new parents, if you are interested in addressing concerns around these or other areas of your relationship or parenting be sure to reach out to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors at Symmetry Counseling.