Becoming a parent for the first time is a very momentous and profound experience that can have a life-changing impact on you as an individual, in your relationship and the entire family. Marriage counseling Orlando sees a rise in couples who seek help after becoming parents. According to a census that was conducted in 2010, an average of 4,247,694 babies are born every year in the United States alone, forever changing the lives of those that were previously childless.
While this time in new parent’s lives is typically characterized as a very joyous occasion, the transition to parenthood is also considered one of the most challenging developmental stages as well, due to the complexities associated with childrearing. As a result of these challenges, there typically are a wide variety of issues that may be present. Marriage counseling Orlando helps couples with specific issues that may come up during this time. These may range from issues that you struggle with personally, within the dynamic of your relationship, and or your family as a whole.
The transition to parenthood can be especially difficult because relationships are under the pressure of having to be largely re-organized to meet new challenging and demanding needs. Some of the common stressors marriage counselors in Orlando see as a result of parenthood are a shift in one’s identity, self-concept, perspective, and relationship adjustments. During the transitional stage into parenthood, mothers and fathers are tasked with assigning new and different levels of priority to various roles, relationships, and responsibilities. Typically for mothers, this includes primarily nurturing and caring for the child and trying to figure out her preferred identity as a mother, while still maintaining previous roles and increased work hours outside of the home (if returning to work), typically resulting in mothers experiencing higher levels of relationship distress and or dissatisfaction sooner than fathers. If you are a mother dealing with sadness after becoming a parent, it can be very beneficial to talk to a counselor.
While the challenges faced by both mothers and fathers during this initial stage of transition may quite different they can still have very similar effects on their identity, roles, and relationships. Additionally, these early transitional stages of parenthood can be so impactful that they have (and continue to be) responsible for the dissolution of nearly one-third of all marriages and families, specifically within the first ten years. This is a critical time in both marriages and families because it is typically characterized by the early stages of creation in which children are the most vulnerable as they progress through their developmental stages of life and couples learning to adapt to their new relationship as parents. Marriage counseling Orlando can help new parents navigate this critical time successfully and stay connected to one another.
In saying all of this you might ask, “Well, how can I keep my marriage healthy and strong during the transition to parenthood?” Here are some simple steps marriage counselors recommend you do:
1. While babies can be a lot of work, they can also be fun! Try and enjoy the special moments that your little one brings you together as a couple. This might include interacting with your baby on their level and including dad in this interaction as well. Genuinely enjoying the baby together as a couple can help you grow in your relationship with your partner.
2. Although some conflict is inevitable in all relationships, especially for sleep-deprived new parents, try to keep your conflicts under control. Marriage counseling experts, Dr. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute provides some good tips for doing so including using a “soft start-up,” meaning try stating your feelings and or needs from a softened angle rather than immediately placing the blame and attacking your partner. Taking frequent deep breaths when you start to feel that you or your spouse are becoming overly agitated during a conflict is very beneficial in this type of situation as well. This could be doing something for 30 mins that relaxes you and gets your mind off of things momentarily. This will allow you to clear your mind and re-approach the situation more relaxed.
3. Continue to invest in your friendship with your partner. Sometimes when couples try and juggle and balance the act of parenting, they can too often lose sight of each other and begin to drift apart. In order to ensure that this does not happen, continue to get to know your partner. Relationship expert Dr. Gottman refers to it as building your “love map”. This includes taking the time to inquire and ask questions about things that you might not know about or might be surprised to find out. Making time for a date night can also be beneficial. Although it can sometimes be challenging to secure childcare in the early stages of parenting, taking the time together as a couple to do something fun can help you grow closer and happier with your partner.
4. Rekindling your intimacy is very important as well because when a baby enters the scene, things often change for your sex life. And that’s okay! Research suggests that many couples struggle with post-baby sex and a decrease in sexual desire. A few ways that you can figure out how to stay close physically while going through this transition is by maintaining the same level of affection between you and your partner and talking about ways that you can continue to meet each other’s physical needs.
While being a new parent is exhausting, it does not have to exhaust your relationship. As you try your best to enjoy your little one also make sure to take the time and put in the effort to care for your relationship because at the end of the day, a happy and strong relationship is the best gift that you can give your baby. If you find your marriage is suffering and you are considering an exit strategy, please reach out to one of our relationship experts for marriage counseling Orlando before making any rash decisions.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.