Most couples anticipate that when baby joins the family, their life will
change. That's true! What the changes turn out to be, and how best to respond to
them, is what throws many couples into an unpleasant loop. In
and Baby Makes Three©
a marriage-strengthening program Anne designed in 1992 for parents-to-be and new parents,
pregnant and new-parent couples learn how to recognize the changes in roles and
responsibilities in their family, and how to design ways to strengthen the marital
bond. In small groups (one to four couples), couples build on the assets
they count on in their marriage, plus some education about family systems, as
we push through the crisis times that provoke thoughts of the
unthinkable (separation or divorce, or affairs).
Here's an example: Although baby's birth begins with separation from
Mom physically, psychically baby is still very attached to Mom. (Dad is
also pretty attached to Mom, and Mom to Dad although for quite different
reasons, and in very different ways at this point in the family life
cycle.) It actually takes the
better part of the first two years of baby's life for that post-partum, second,
separation to be naturally accomplished, not forced either upon baby or Mom.
And so, I hope you ask, what's going on for Dad during this two-year period?
What's his role? How does he fit into his expanded family? When and how
does he relate to his wife?
to his new baby?
We know for sure that Dad, as well as Mom, is likely to be
sleep-deprived and exhausted right after baby is born, and for months to come.
There's little time for the new parents to talk together, let alone relate and
'play' in the ways they'd been accustomed to. Indeed, it's the couple
relationship that is dynamically changed by a baby's birth, and when good,
healthy parenting is taking place between mother and infant, we inadvertently
run the risk that the bond between the parents may be jeopardized.
It's that rupture which I hope to prevent with sufficient education and
understanding in advance of baby's birth and the new demands put upon the
nuclear family. It's amazing, and reassuring, that just knowledge alone is
helpful to exhausted, uncertain, sometimes anxious or depressed, new parents.
This joyful, long-awaited transition in a family from couple to parents with an
infant can be, and often is, fraught both with rampant hormones and with actual
problems. What you are experiencing is real and natural -- normal even.
And the confusion and uncertainties will pass; so will the sleeplessness.
Husband and wife, new father and new mother, can count on re-establishing
time for one another in the months following childbirth. But it does
take time. And good humor. And most important, perspective. With one in
every two marriages resorting to divorce as the solution to the problems that
arise, it is reassuring and very helpful at practical levels to reduce the
likelihood of marital discord in every way possible. Anne Ziff's
and Baby Makes Three© guides parents through the process expertly and with compassion.
Is someone you love expecting?
Learn what to expect --and how to cope--
when Baby makes Three.
Contact Anne Ziff, Marriage and Family Therapist
I'm the best baby gift you can give!