by Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT
During their research, John and Julie Gottman found that 1/3 of couples report marital satisfaction following the birth of their child. These couples do certain things to maintain positive feelings towards each other.
From my personal experience and professional understanding, I think the most important factor is learning how to reduce your partner’s stress.
Here are tips on reducing stress:
1. Spend time discussing what your role expectations are for parenting.
2. Genuinely ask your partner and coparent “How are you doing today?”every single day.
3. If you sense stress ask your partner questions from The Gottman Institute’s Stress Reducing Conversation format, like:
“What’s most upsetting about this?”, “how are you feeling?”, “what do you need?” , or “what’s the worst part?”.
4. Be fair in the distribution of tasks. One person cannot be responsible for ALL night feedings- they’ll go nuts!
5. Find ways to allow each of you to have recreational time away. Walks, time with friends, etc.
6. Figure out your priorities. This includes learning to say no. It also includes allowing your children to be bored now and then. They don’t need to be on 80 different teams or go to every neighborhood event.
7. There is a time and place for silver linings. But when your partner is upset and needs to vent, cry, be mad just let it happen and be there with empathy. Withhold problem solving. Don’t minimize. Don’t tell them to recognize the good. Most likely they already know the positives, have already thought of the solutions, and already feel as if they’re being dramatic… so try not to echo that. I have a post on my stories about empathy today if you want to check it out.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is a licensed marriage therapist in Philadelphia. Elizabeth supports individuals and couples improve the relationship they have with themselves and others through better communication, self soothing, and a clear understanding of what a successful marriage looks like. She believes that any committed couples who is willing to do the work can walk away from therapy with more clarity and connection in their relationship.