During pregnancy, there's so much emphasis on ensuring a safe delivery for the baby. With piles of books and courses to get through, couples can be forgiven for not taking a close look at how they communicate together, how they expect to live their completely new lives together. Once the baby arrives, there's a lot to navigate, all while recovering physically, learning how to breastfeed and coping with sleep deprivation like you've never known.
It's little wonder then how many couples find their relationship suffers. One US study* has found within five years of the birth of a first child, 13 percent of married couples divorce. This rate goes up to 39% for defacto couples 5 years after the child’s birth.
It seems that all childbirth preparation should be founded on preparing the relationship for the enormous challenges ahead so both parents can go on the journey of learning the practicalities of birth and parenting together. Tondi Gilfillan, relationship therapist with Interrelate and mother certainly believes in this approach. She points to brain research into how to optimise our learning and adjustment to big changes. "When we make preparations before we go into new situations, we adjust so much more readily." she says.
Sean also points to the need to "upskill as a couple" and to really hone "your dance as a couple". These are the sorts of skills we need ahead of the birth to navigate the complex waters of parenthood.
With Tondi and Sean we also explore the vulnerabilities of new parenthood, the opportunities vulnerability in fact brings us, and how to manage our expectations. They key is to talk them through before baby arrives. It's surprising what can come up between you, as Tondi reveals in this interview.
Sean also speaks frankly about men's adjustment to fatherhood and the need to make the massive step up into the role. "We need men with a backbone and a heart." says Sean. We also hear from Sean about men's expectations for sex and intimacy after birth, what can really lie behind these expectations and offers another point of view that he believes sets the stage for a deeper, more rewarding and exciting relationship.
Listen to our whole discussion from the podcast link below.
Further reading: "Becoming Us" by Elly Taylor
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