Staying Connected to Your Partner
Oh what a wonderful world it would be if we could all think, act, speak, and believe the same ways…right? WRONG! In fact, who we are individually is what makes this world a wonderful place to be. Opposites Attract is more than just an 80s pop hit, it’s how many of us love and live in our relationships. How can one stay connected to their partner when these opposites show up in pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting?
Pregnancy, Childbirth…and Partners
If you’ve ever experienced a pregnancy or loved someone who was pregnant, you may be well aware of the emotional roller coasters that occur throughout pregnancy and the journey into parenthood. This is all common, expected, and thanks to the hormones radiating through the body. These hormones are similar to premenstrual syndrome emotions, only heighten and continuous. Basically, the emotions have nothing…okay, not all to do with you.
The emotional disconnect that occurs can come from either partner, so how does one stay connected to the other? First, remember that it’s not all about you and that not everything said or done is in spite of you. Because of heightened emotions during pregnancy, being kind, courteous, and loving towards each other is important. Remember that the love you two have for each other created the bundle of joy brewing in the belly. Remember your love languages, and how you each show and receive love. Use that knowledge as a catalyst for peace.
Watching a budding belly emerge provides a new view for partners. Pregnancy not only affects the gestational individual, but it also impacts their loved ones in different ways and uniquely. Talk about what’s happening, and listen to what is being shared.
Partners and the Postpartum
Who’s on nighttime duty tonight? Who’s in charge of dinner? School drop-offs for the siblings? Before even the delivery room, have a discussion about roles after the baby comes home. Developing a postpartum plan prior to the baby is a great way to flush out parenting styles, household help, feeding methods, visitors, pet care, etc. Waiting until the issue comes up will make things bigger than they need to be in a time of recovery and healing.
Keep on the same page by checking in with each other. A simple “How are you feeling today?” goes much farther than “What’s wrong with you?”. Both parties may be struggling with things that they don’t know how to work through, and having an ally that loves you is a wonderful safety net to vulnerability. Know when to throw in the towel in a disagreement. It’s not worth saying things you didn’t mean to say or do things you can’t take back. Giving in doesn’t mean giving up. It simply shows that what is being discussed may need to be brought up at a time when the energy is more positive.
Staying Connected to Your Partner Beyond the First Year
Changes in routines, structures, and needs as a baby enter the toddler stage can begin to shake up the work that was done previously. Understand that now the needs of both the primary parent and the child are a little more mature. Navigate the newness in parenting roles by checking in with each other and even changing up processes and procedures to accommodate. Don’t forget about those date nights! Now that baby is older, the idea of leaving another caretaker for a few hours isn’t as daunting as before. Embrace a dinner sans diaper bag. Don that outfit and show off your postpartum body. Bring the laughter and forget for just a moment the laundry, dishes, and grocery list. This is a time to remember to celebrate big and small wins. You’ve made it through pregnancy together. You’ve kept a little human loved and safe for an entire year. Now we’re learning to walk, communicate, and see a little personality flourish. You’ve celebrated another anniversary together. Relationships are a long walk on a skinny plank, every little step is a step toward a goal. Parenting is the wind and waves that come naturally that shake the plank, bend the plank, and bow the plank. The focus and foundation are everything! 35% of relationships end within the first 5 years of welcoming a baby into the family. Knowing HOW each partner receives love (ahem the Five Love Languages) can without a doubt make that long skinny plank unbreakable.
It goes without saying that YES! It takes a village to raise a family. When those days seem long and dark, and the connections between you and your loved one feel more like friction than finesse send the bat signal to your village. If staying connected to your partner is the goal, make it happen. Enlist family and/or friends to give you a break for a date. Even a few hours of the alone time of connection can do wonders. Hire professional support! Our doulas feel privileged of being a go-to for families reestablishing their connection. A babysitter, a nanny…just do it.