The house is all set, you have bought and assembled the baby cot, the pram is standing at the ready,
adorable little clothes are carefully folded in the cupboard, comforting soft toys adorn the room,
everything is neat and tidy, patiently awaiting the arrival of your new little darling. You have planned
for every situation necessary for parenthood and the smooth incorporation of your first child into your family, or have you?

Most parents to be spend a great deal of time planning for the arrival of their first child, however,
much of this planning involves the purchasing and organization of material goods. Few parents stop
to think about how their relationship needs to be prepared for this arrival. Perhaps this is due to the
immense amount of negative information on the difficulties and consequences of incorporating a
child into a relationship which is so widely available to expectant parents. It is no wonder that so
many couples who are expecting try their best to completely ignore any information on the topic of
how a relationship changes when a baby is added to the equation as it most certainly is depressing and most definitely not something that any couple would want to
consider happening to their relationship. On the off chance that a parent to be decides to read any
such information, it is also likely that they will think to themselves that it will certainly not apply to
their relationship as they have far too strong a bond to be negatively affected by the arrival of a
child.

While it is perfectly understandable that any parent to be will react in this way, it is also the reason
behind the publishing of such horror stories which they are trying so desperately to ignore! It is no
secret that the arrival of a child will, in all certainty, shake your relationship, however, there is
nothing to say that this can’t be positive for your relationship rather than negative. It is impossible
for any relationship to incorporate a child without some challenges popping up, however, with
adequate preparation, these challenges can be dealt with and your relationship may even improve!
There is no way of predicting every possible challenge that you and your partner may have to face
when incorporating your child into your relationship as every relationship is unique with its own
strengths and weaknesses, therefore, this article will simply mention some of the most common
ones and focus more strongly on the positive changes that may occur as well as some advice for
preparing your relationship for the much anticipated arrival of your child.

It is very important that expectant parents do consider the hardships which they may be faced with
upon the arrival of their child, after all, you are taking a huge step from being simply lovers to being
parents, however, if you are knowledgeable and prepared for these possible problems, you will no
doubt be able to cope with them far easier than if you simply stick your head in the sand and
pretend that nothing of the sort could ever happen to you. Some of the most common problems
documented are as follows:

 Conflicting parenting styles
 Neglecting quality time, alone, with one another
 Financial difficulties frequently leading to arguments
 Disagreements around in-law baby care advice
 Conflicts over household and baby care allocations
 Social isolation
 New mothers erratic hormone levels can cause a myriad of emotional problems including
tearfulness, irritability and depression, frequently causing stress in a relationship
 Neglecting acts of physical intimacy
 Learning to adjust priorities to include the child
 Less available free time for hobbies or relaxation
 Fatigue and sleep depravation

Reading the above will no doubt have caused you some distress. Take a deep breath and understand
that it is extremely seldom that couples experience all of these problems. It is far more common for
couples to experience only a few of the above. However, even just one of these obstacles can leave
a couple feeling as though the world is about to end, most likely due to natural stress and sleep
deprivation which accompanies the arrival of a new baby. Hence why it is so vitally important that
you are prepared.

One of the best and most highly recommended ways of preparing your relationship is through
seeking the service of a professional relationship counsellor prior to the arrival of your baby. A
relationship counsellor will be able to help you to develop strategies and vital skills which you will be
able to utilize upon the arrival of your little angel. This may seem like a strange thing to do as most
people believe that counselling is only for those who are struggling, however, this is far from true.
Seeking preventative assistance from a relationship counsellor can be one of the most important and
most beneficial preparations for expectant parents.

In addition to this, it is important that you have a strong support system in place. Friends and family
are vitally important during this time and it is essential that you don’t isolate yourself from these
connections but rather strengthen them. This support system will be invaluable in times of need.
Don’t feel guilty asking for their help, even if it is just to babysit for a few hours while you and your
partner take a well-deserved break. It is small acts such as going out for a quick meal together, or
even just a cup of coffee together as a couple which will help to maintain the strength of your
relationship.

And now for some good news, becoming parents can be a hugely positive step for your relationship
bringing with it some wonderful moments such as the following:

 It is impossible to not fall deeper in love with your partner when you witness them
nurturing your child, cooing and making funny faces at them. It is small acts such as these
which will melt your heart
 Seeing your partners features in your child
 Learning to confide in and rely on one another in difficult and tiring times
 Learning to work together as a team to solve problems relating to your child
 You will find yourself sharing numerous hilarious moments with your partner including
untimely diaper changes, food throwing, etc. which frequently lead to hysterical laughter
 Sharing your baby’s milestones such as first crawls, first steps, first words etc.
 Sharing little outings together with your child as a family unit
 Sharing an all-encompassing love for your child with your partner
 Forming friendships with fellow new parents
 Planning for your child’s future together, selecting schools etc

This is only a fraction of all of the wonderful moments that come from having a child which you will
be able to share with your partner, however, to be able to fully enjoy these it is important to have
prepared your relationship for the struggles which accompany these joyous moments.
With adequate support and suitable strategies and skills in place there is no reason why the change
from ‘couple’ to ‘family unit’ can’t be one of the most wonderful adjustments your relationship will
ever experience. Seeking preventative counselling services prior to the arrival of your child can assist you in preparing your relationship in this way which will prove to be invaluable upon the much
anticipated arrival.

Do yourself a favour and spend some time and effort preparing your relationship as well as your
house for your child. There is no doubt that you will be thankful for it in the long run when you are
able to fully enjoy all the wonderful moments that come from new parenthood.

References:
Carlson, M.J., & VanOrman, A.G. (2017). Trajectories of relationship supportiveness after childbirth: Does
marriage matter? Social Science Research, 66, 102 – 117.
Delicate, A., Ayers, S., & McMullen, S. (2018). A systematic review and meta-synthesis of the impact of
becoming parents on the couple relationship. Midwifery. 61, 88 – 96.
Doss, B.D., & Rhoades, G.K. (2017). The transition to parenthood: impact on couples’ romantic
relationships. Current Opinion in Psychology. 13, 25 – 28.
Gosselin, S.H. (2014). Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood. United
States of America: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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