Partner's Relationship After Birth
Guest: Denise Vite, LCSW
For most couples, the relationship takes a backseat after having children. All the stress in figuring things out, feeling overwhelmed and the lack of enough rest and sleep can affect any couple’s mental and emotional response, leading to more arguments and having less patience to each other.
That is why planning on how things will be for you as a couple after the baby arrives is as important as preparing for the birth and learning to care for your baby. Give an ample amount of time and focus on planning about the changes that you, as parents, would go through.
Importance of Having a Healthy Relationship After the Baby Arrives
Denise Vite, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker that specializes in zero to five and in parenting, shares a quote from the Gottman’s, “the best gift you can give your baby is a really strong relationship between the two of you.” We, as parents, are the foundation of the home and having a healthy relationship between our partners plays a very significant role in making sure we are modeling what a loving and healthy relationship looks like. If couples are not in good terms, it would be difficult to provide a loving environment that they want for the child.
This goes the same, too, for moms on their second, third or fourth child because each child is a complete new experience in a way. You’re not necessarily a first time parents but this is the first time you have a family dynamic going on with this many children now and so there's so many new elements to it like figuring out how to parent these different stages.
If you are not paying attention and are not investing on each other, it's going to be really hard for your children to grow up and be learning positive relationships from the both of you. If there's no good communication between the couple, they can really lose themselves because they can't come to an agreement or they can't find their own way together.
How Trauma Can Affect the Couple’s Relationship and Parenting
Parenting is extremely triggering. When we experience trauma, it can shape how we relate to other people in our lives. How you regulate your feelings or set boundaries as a result of what you’ve been through can come up after you have a baby and you're trying to figure out how to parent and how to respond to every situation.
There's a lot of different ways that your trauma can kind of resurfaced, depending on whether or not it was something you processed and got help for or just blocked. For instance, if the mom is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, she maybe retraumatized through all of those vaginal exams, her body being touched as well as the birth and delivery. There could also be new trauma that could develop if there was any birth trauma or a child in the NICU. For a parent who was sexually abused as a young child, there maybe some PTSD that comes up which can create more anxiety so they want to over protect or have certain rules around who can visit and who can do what and who can touch their baby.
In many ways, your relationship with your parents and what happened in your childhood could also affect the relationship you have with your partner and how you parent your children. You often think about what happened in your childhood and want to do what your parents did because that made you feel loved or you don't want to repeat those same patterns because that made you feel unsafe. And now that you have this little being that you love, the traumas that you experienced at that age and stage might trigger things for you.
If a partner has no idea about any of these experiences or traumas, then they would only see their partner’s responses or actions without their trauma history. Or if a partner doesn’t know how to really support their partner through whatever they might be triggered with, that may create a lot of differences and misunderstanding.
However, it is extremely important to realize that these issues and experiences are all part of your growth. A lot of parents are worried about messing their kids up and that their traumas might become their kid’s traumas. Though there is intergenerational trauma, we should have a lot of grace and compassion for ourselves and expect that not everything will be perfect. It’s important to just accept that those experiences are all part of your growth and the more that you can be aware of your traumas, the more that you’re able to respond appropriately. When you get triggered and acted in a way that you shouldn’t have, you’ll know how to come back and talk to your kids to discuss what happened. There’s definitely a lot of ways to repair it and to not pressure yourself so much.
Read Part II of the blog HERE to get information on some of the most common issues couples experience as well as recommendations on important topics to talk about before and after the baby arrives.
To listen to this amazing episode with Denise Vite, LCSW, please visit https://www.thebeyondresiliencelife.com/blog/partner-s-relationship-after-birth.