Nothing shakes things up in a relationship like bringing home your first baby.
Everything changes the day you become parents. Each partner experiences a drastic shift in needs, goals, time, and priorities as they go from couple to family. It can be challenging to maintain your unique connection when two becomes three.
Communication is the Key to a Lasting Bond
Rituals include everyday traditions, special occasions, and celebrations that shape who we are as families, create connection, and strengthen bonds. These important practices give you and your partner something to hold onto as you shift into your life as parents.
Regular and intentional time to talk as a couple is an important ritual you can create to improve communication and strengthen your bond. Taking just 20 minutes each day to focus on each other, talk about the day, ask meaningful questions, and truly listen when the other speaks can evolve into a deeply meaningful relationship, full of trust and intimacy.
Keep Your Love Maps Up-to-Date
Love Maps is a concept termed by Dr. John Gottman. He has found that couples who have healthy, strong relationships have developed detailed “maps” of their partner’s inner self. This is something most couples do well when they are first dating, spending hours on the phone, talking over coffee, and long walks on the beach. Each partner gathers information about the other person’s goals, preferences, worries, stresses, and joys. Love Maps detail how well you know your partner. Over time, these maps change and evolve. Babies, careers, and busy lives make it more challenging to keep your Love Maps up-to-date.
Through rituals of connectedness, like taking 20 minutes each day to talk alone, you can reinforce and redefine your Love Maps. Meaningful but simple questions followed by uninterrupted and active listening will help you move through life together in a positive way.
You can try asking things like:
What is your favorite way to relax?
What flavor of ice cream do you like best?
What song makes you think about our relationship?
At first, this practice may feel awkward. You may be disappointed in yourself and your partner for losing touch with each other. You may feel like you should know these things and it might be uncomfortable to admit that you don’t. Try working from a list of ‘getting to know you’ questions to take the pressure off.
Handle Conflict Positively
Sleep deprivation and the drastic life changes that come with having a baby make it easier to lose your cool with your partner. Harsh words and blame flow more freely when we are worn out and fed
up, but instead of leading to resolution, attacking your partner is more likely to cause a defensive reaction.
Try your best to address your frustrations before they become unbearable. Use “I” statements and stay away from words like “always” and “never”. Be sure to stick to the present problem and jumping back to things that have happened in the past. By talking about your feelings calmly and respectfully, and telling your partner what you need from them, you can move to resolution faster and without damaging the intimacy between you.
Start Developing Ritual Connectedness Now
Strengthening your relationship can begin at any time. Try scheduling 20 minutes to just talk with your partner each day, work through a list of questions to help you update your Love Maps and be mindful of how you approach conflict. Having a baby can be an opportunity to deepen your bond and develop new rituals for connection, shaping the intimacy between the two of you, and creating a foundation for ritual connectedness as a family in the years to come.
Join us for one of our upcoming Gottman Bringing Baby Home Workshops if you’re looking for a way to grow in your relationship, strengthen the bond as united parents, and fall more in love with one another.
To learn more and to register: