No matter how sleep-deprived and overwhelmed you are when you become a parent, your spouse’s needs don’t have to hit the backburner. Quite the contrary — when your life is turned upside down by a baby, that’s precisely the time your marriage needs to be rock solid. Dr. Phil shares his tips for couples handling the huge transition of becoming a parent.
1. Renegotiate your relationship.
Discuss what the division of labor will be: How you will each manage your time now that there are new demands on it? When will you carve out a window for having fun? Are you splitting up childcare 50/50? Hiring someone to help? Who’s getting up at 3 a.m. to feed the baby? Make a plan, write it down and hold yourself accountable.
2. Reprogram your life.
You can’t count on willpower to help you navigate the complete overhaul of your life now that you’re a parent. Willpower is a myth and it won’t carry you for the long haul. Instead, reprogram your life to accommodate your new responsibilities. You want your life to work so that when the emotion isn’t there, the programming carries you.
3. Don’t let being a parent completely define you.
Remember that you have two roles now: you are both a mother and a wife or a father and a husband. You must make a pact that you will not stop being friends and lovers just because you are moms and dads. You must take care of yourself and your spouse if you want to take the best care of your child.
4. Remember that kids join your life; not the other way around.
You were a couple before the child came along, and hopefully you’ll be together long after the child leaves the nest. Integrate your child into your relationship instead of working your entire life around the child.
5. Don’t fight in front of kids.
There is absolutely nothing right and everything wrong about fighting in front of kids. It changes who they are — don’t do it. They can feel your negative energy, they might think it’s about them, and it’s simply not the environment you want for your children.
6. Keep in mind the formula for a successful relationship.
The quality of a relationship is dependent upon the strength of its foundation and whether it meets the needs of the two people involved. It might sound simple but you can’t go wrong if you attempt to meet your partner’s needs, articulate yours so he can do the same, and keep building on the foundation that brought you two together. Not even consecutive sleepless nights with a baby can rock that.