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If you’re experiencing changes in relationships, don’t worry, this is completely normal.
It seems like after having kids, everything changes. I wanted to know more about how to navigate the stress put on relationships for those parenting with a significant other, so I tapped into clinical Psychologist and mother of two, Dr. Melanie Chinchilla.
Many of her clients are women who are becoming mothers for the first time, going from 1-2 children, heading back to work, or going through other transitions in life. So she has definitely seen it all.
She says romantic relationships before kids are much more effortless because of the time you have to dedicate to them. Meanwhile, couples with kids tend to miss the ease, romance, attention, and thoughtfulness.
“The first 5 years after a child is born there is a significant dip in marital satisfaction for couples, but don’t worry too much. It doesn’t mean the dissatisfaction is going to stay. There’s a lot of stress associated with this period. So don’t make any big decisions in the first few months or even years after having a baby.”
Here’s what to do if your relationship is under stress.
Give it time and analyze the fundamentals you are lacking. For example, some mothers miss their alone time, sleep, friendship, or special time with their partner.
Start by identifying those needs and seeing what you can do to make them happen again. (Here are some additional helpful tips for overcoming the perceived lack of time or mom guilt surrounding doing this.)
What is and isn’t normal when it comes to relationship changes?
According to Melanie, It’s normal to have more arguments. But being belittled, physical fighting, and aggression are not normal.
And if any of that is occurring in your home, you’ll want to talk to a trusted friend, seek out therapy, or other professional help. Especially if you have safety concerns about yourself or your child.
And to anyone reading this who is in an unsafe situation right now: your safety, health, and happiness matter, mama. You are worthy of love and respect.
Please get the help you need by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233) or visit their website here.
What topics do couples argue about most after having kids?
“Parenting style is one thing we often don’t think about ahead of time. Even if you have the same values, the way you go about achieving them may be very different.
Financial stress is also normal, because the cost of raising children is high. And the extent to which outside influences like family are involved in helping raise kids can also be hot buttons.”
Here are 3 helpful tips for repairing relationships.
1. First, it helps to simply be aware that thee changes are normal and unavoidable. When you add an extra person to a family dynamic, (and that person cannot do anything for themselves, I might add), it’s natural that priorities are going to shift for a while.
2. Recognize patterns in your relationship like parental gatekeeping, which can be extremely detrimental and have a lot of unintended negative consequences, including causing resentment on both sides.
The gist of it is: when one parent tries to individually control the way their kids are raised and doesn’t let the other help, there can be major fallout.
The gatekeeping parent may ultimately feel like they don’t have a partner anymore. While, the other parent will feel they cannot contribute in a meaningful way. Alternatively, there may be one parent, most often the mother, who simply does a lot more of the child rearing and the other person is a lot more hands off.
This is another reason moms begin to feel stuck, alone, and isolated or like there is no way out. Depending on how that person was raised, they may see the division of duties differently. There are still both men and women out there who believe women raise kids, while men bring in money.
So they expect that a father (in a stereotypical heterosexual relationship) should work while their wives do everything else. But the truth is, when your children, and girls especially, see their fathers modeling partnership and contributing at home, they are empowered to see their own value and grow up to expect the same from their future partners.
Address any of these patterns coming up, focus on communication as a whole, and find a way to reset these habits together. The key is having both parties commit to working on it.
3. Have compassion for yourself and empathy for your significant other. Know neither of you will be perfect at it every day. Everyone has bad days, and that is ok as long as you are both still in it together.
Pro relationship tip: If one or both of you is feeling like your needs aren’t being fully met, look at your calendar and actually schedule individual “me time” for each of you.
Pencil in time each week, whether it’s always a certain evening or weekend afternoon, knowing you have that time to do whatever you want. You can watch TV, nap, or get out of the house.
Having judgement-free alone time is totally freeing. And don’t worry, this gets easier and easier to prioritize as your kids get older.
Want more resources?
You can also check out this amazing Parenting in Partnership course I took through pediatrician and self care expert, Modern Mommy Doc.
I cannot recommend it enough if you’re experiencing changes in relationships. You can take it with your significant other or even pick up some helpful and validating tips on your own.
The course shares how you can make sure you needs are being met, gives great communication tips, and teaches you how to truly divide and conquer parenting duties.
I believe it’s well worth investing in the health and success of your relationship for the sake of a healthier, happier family dynamic.
Overwhelmed by everything on your to do list?
Get this handy free guide with 6 Mama Hacks to help you get back some of your precious time. That way, you can spend it on what really matters. Like bonding with your kiddos and having your own needs met again!
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