Updated: Aug 7
Parenting a newborn or toddler is always challenging but parenting together during a pandemic strains even the strongest of couples. Start today to do these six simple things that reduce conflict, build couple intimacy, and help you be happier parents together!!
Why couples are unhappy
Experts at the Gottman Institute tell us that over 2/3 of new parents are struggling. Here’s what’s really happening:
· Sleep deprivation leaves both parents exhausted and out of their routine
· Postpartum depression can compromise both mothers and fathers
· Parents are overwhelmed by the mountain of work that comes with a new little person
· Parents feel lonely
· Physical intimacy, passion, sex, and romance fall off the radar
· Resentment builds as both parents feel misunderstood and unappreciated
But it doesn’t have to be that way
After a 13-year study of new parents, Drs. John & Julie Gottman tell us that some couples are able to maintain a deep emotional and physical connection while adding another little person to the family. So, the Gottman’s studied what happy couples are doing to keep their relationship strong. From their findings they authored the book “And Baby Makes Three – the Six Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives” and developed the “Bringing Baby Home Workshop”. They discovered that after attending a workshop led by a trained Gottman Educator, 85% of couples felt closer and more understood by their partners, maintained emotional and physical intimacy, and enjoyed parenting together. What did they learn that made the difference?
Six Things Happy Parents Want You to Know
Couples who maintain emotional intimacy and find joy in building their new family together know these six things. They:
1. Realize everyone is all in the same soup
All new parents are struggling with the same problems. It’s not just you.
2. Understand how important it is to delight in responding to their baby –
Happy parents learn the signals their baby is sending and respond with what their baby needs from them. They stay calm, interact in an animated way with their babies, imitate their play, and don’t compete with the other parent for their baby’s attention. Babies need to know you are there for them so happy couples show up together for their baby.
3. Cool down their conflicts
Babies pick up on conflict and tension so happy parents have learned how to manage conflict well. Since 21% of arguments are about how they argue, happy parents know to:
· Calm yourself before you speak
· Speak gently about your feelings
· State your need in a positive way
· Take responsibility for your actions when you are wrong
"The greatest gift you can give your baby is a happy and strong relationship between the two of you." –Bringing Baby Home by John & Julie Gottman
4. Savor each other by building a strong friendship and a zesty sex life
When you cherish each other and respect each other’s needs, friendship remains strong, emotional intimacy grows, and physical intimacy is natural and right. Happy parents freely offer friendship and understanding to each other and foster connection through a strong friendship, affectionate touch, and a passionate sex life.
5. Add warm fathering to the mix
Research by the Gottmans has created a revolutionary new movement in understanding the role of husbands and fathers in parenting. Happy parents celebrate how father’s help their babies through play. Here’s what they want you to know:
· Rough and tumble play increases baby’s self-control
· Engaging Dads nurture empathy in children by age five
· Playing peekaboo and tossing the ball with infants increases a child’s intelligence
· Children whose fathers are actively engaged have higher IQ scores, higher verbal ability, and do better in school by third grade
· When Dads are involved, Moms are happier , too.
How can Moms help Dads be more involved?
· Make room for Dad to play alone with children
· Include Dad even when other women are around to help
· Celebrate Dad’s contribution
· When Dad contributes with chores let him do it his way. (And Dad’s do your best work!)
· Get educated on how Dad’s style of play is good for the baby
6. Create an enriching legacy
Happy couples do pregnancy together. They move from a “Me” perspective to a “We” perspective beginning with the announcement “We’re pregnant!” Couples who considered both of their needs as important during pregnancy maintained a deep bond and had a calmer baby! Happy couples build a shared legacy around their individual heritages through pictures and stories. They build rituals and traditions in everyday events of life or on special days and holidays. They model what they believe about the roles they play such as husband and wife, or sister/brother, and assign importance to them. Their story, rituals, and traditions are built on beliefs and values that guide our family decisions. They are intentional about the life they build together.
You are on your way to happy parenting
With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to enjoying being pregnant and parenting your new baby! If you need more help, no problem. Just schedule an appointment here and you’ll have a guide through the steps to happier parenting. Want more information? Just give me a call at 850.450.7223.
And give the little one a hug from me!
Dianne Presley, LCSW, BC-TMH
Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC
Anxiety, Depression, Loss and Relationship Therapy
Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 Trained Couples Method Therapist
Gottman Trained in Traumas and Affairs and in Couples in Addiction
Gottman Educator in 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work and Bringing Baby Home
Certified Brain Based Success Coach