From a Couple to Being a Family: The Effects of a Baby's Arrival
Individuality, your relationship with your partner, your family: The arrival of a baby impacts life on multiple levels. You live with great satisfaction, but every moment, everything seems arduous and expensive. It’s true that you’re never 100% ready, but it’s also true that preparation is of great help when it comes to going from being a couple to being a family. Let’s see why.
The B-side of a baby’s arrival
Everyone imagines the A-side of having a child: The joy of becoming parents, the tenderness that a baby inspires, the discovery of a new way of loving, hitherto unknown and unsuspected.
However, there’s not much talk about the B side, as there are still many traditional and prejudiced ideas about parenthood.
Many people can even accuse a woman of being a bad mother if she dares to say out loud that she wants to send her child back after spending several days without sleep or without being able to go to the bathroom easily. There are also those who think that a mother exaggerates when complaining about changing diapers more than 5 times a day.
The experience of the arrival of a baby in a family is exhausting and each person is affected in a very particular way. Added to this is the challenge of taking care of your relationship with your partner.
So what can we do?
In the first place, we have to accept the change, as denying it and trying to keep everything as it was before leaves us without resources to face a new situation. Acceptance allows us to acquire new skills and abilities and helps us align our expectations.
Accepting the arrival of the baby takes time and pregnancy is a good time to prepare. Talking about how you’ll organize yourselves after birth helps ease the burden and make the transition to parenting better.
It’s important to understand that for parents, this new challenge will be more or less difficult to face, depending on the previous dynamic that the couple had.
The best predictors of success are communication, affection, trust, mutual support, and the ability to solve problems. In contrast, hermetic couples, who don’t communicate or wait to “explode” to face what bothers them, are negative predictors.
It’s true that the arrival of a baby in a family has its own complexity, but it’s not necessary to deposit on the new member all the guilt and insecurities of the couple that already existed. Each person must take responsibility for what’s theirs and not project his frustrations on others.
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Some tips to put into practice before going from being a couple to being a family
Here are some suggestions for them to implement after becoming parents for the first time:
Keep up the dialogue
It’s important to be able to find some time of the day to talk, to share your thoughts, emotions, fears, and insecurities with one another, and also to provide mutual support. Long, unending talks aren’t necessary–sometimes just a few minutes between adults will suffice.
Readapt your plans
It’s important to be flexible and understand that everything has its time so that we can adapt our expectations to each stage that we have to live.
Maybe there isn’t that much time available anymore, but you don’t have to go out to dinner by candlelight to get some time alone. Sometimes, while your baby sleeps, breakfast in bed becomes the perfect date.
In addition to this, it’s good to organize your schedules so that each partner has some individual leisure time.
Learn to ask for help
The arrival of a baby is a challenge for anyone and connects us with our own childhood and with our own fears. Therefore, it’s not the time to believe that we are omnipotent and that we can do everything alone.
At this stage, there’s nothing better than learning to ask for and accept help. Of course, both parties must be involved in parenting and share responsibilities.
Exchange reproaches or demands for wishes and projects
Many times, we say phrases like: “you no longer do (such a thing) like you did before” and we focus on the lack. And the other partner, in addition to hearing a complaint, receives a burden.
Instead of this, the most convenient thing is to try something more positive, that encourages the other person to connect with a good memory: “you remember when… As soon as we can, let’s do it again!” or “I really liked it when…”.
Support each other and empathize with one another
Both members of the couple are involved in the change, but there’s a huge responsibility that falls on the mother. It’s the woman who sees her body transform, who experiences a hormonal revolution, and who the baby comes to depend on throughout most of the day.
An understanding attitude is key and it’s even essential to reinforce and highlight her efforts: “You do this very well” or “I’m proud of how you’re doing.”
Getting involved also requires knowing the changes that your partner undergoes in pregnancy, breastfeeding, and postpartum. And of course, you need to avoid comments referring to the woman’s body, her appearance, or her care.
A message for those who are going from being a couple to being a family
It’s important to know that nothing lasts forever, that there’s a time for everything, and that sleepless nights with constant crying will soon be a distant memory.
As your baby grows, you’ll go back to having time to go back to caring for one another as a couple and to enjoy other (and new) experiences together. It’s important to calm your anxieties, learn to handle the frustration that changes produce, and enjoy being a family.
Recognizing that the arrival of a baby implies a revolution also relieves the pressure of wanting (or having to) do everything right and perfectly.
And if finally, the challenge of no longer being just a couple and becoming a family is difficult for new parents. You need to open up and acknowledge it, even when it involves a lot of pain and frustration. In this sense, couples therapy can be of great help.
But above all, it’s important not to take your children hostage or make them the scapegoats if a relationship doesn’t work out. Sometimes, a separation is best for the entire family system. Speaking on good terms and with respect is the healthiest thing to do.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Nieri, Liliana (2017). Transición y construcción de la paternidad. Interdisciplinaria, vol. 34, núm. 2, pp. 425-440, 2017. Centro Interamericano de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Ciencias Afines. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/journal/180/18054403015/html/
- Reyna, Jaime Montalvo, Salcido, María Rosario Espinosa, & Arredondo, Angélica Pérez. (2013). Análisis del ciclo vital de la estructura familiar y sus principales problemas en algunas familias mexicanas. Alternativas en Psicología, 17(28), 73-91. Recuperado em 13 de outubro de 2021, de http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1405-339X2013000100007&lng=pt&tlng=es.