Can Couples Therapy Help after the Birth of Your Baby?
Today's blog is a special GUEST EDITION as we invite Dr. Mike to share some thoughts on couples therapy or marriage counseling as a tool for your family after you bring your sweet baby home. Dr. Mike has spent the past decade working with young adults and couples in private practice, and years as Clinical Director at FGCU's Counseling and Psychological Services office. He's been blissfully married for over 22 years with 3 children, each successfully past the newborn and sleepless night stage! He earned his PhD at University of Florida and currently enjoys sharing his time between clients in SWFL and his newest office location in Colorado Springs.
A baby means adjusting to new roles within your relationship with your partner
"Welcoming a child into the world has the potential to be a joyous occasion. You’ve picked a name, created a nursery space, received shower gifts, and maybe even brought your new bundle of joy home to settle in. These events often create a sense of excitement and joy. You planned mindfully for your birth, found the right doula and other perinatal professionals, and gathered a great team for your birth. Perhaps it might seem strange to consider couples therapy during this joyous period of life.
Why would someone need therapy after the birth of a baby? Some people experience trauma during their birth process. Some people have a hard time adjusting to being a parent. Some people realize there is a need to set and maintain boundaries with friends and family that they didn’t need to set or maintain before. While some of these needs are individual needs and are appropriate for individual therapists, sometimes the need for support or intervention rests in the couple, together.
Welcoming a child into the world also means that your relationship with your partner is expanding. One of the most common reasons couples might pursue therapy before or after the birth of a baby, is to learn how to adjust together to the change in roles that your growing family demands of your relationship. In other words, becoming parents together requires you to become parenting partners. You have been romantic partners, roommates, and marital partners. Becoming parenting partners requires a somewhat different set of considerations or communication skills.
As new parents, new decisions and challenges await that can help you feel closer to your partner or begin to create distance if effective skills and perspectives are not practiced. You might need to navigate sleep deprivation and nighttime feedings, and learn ways to communicate about finding compromise. Working together to create time and space for self-care will be necessary. Getting on the same page in regards to decisions that might include vaccinations, child care, or parenting values will be important. Perhaps you have a history of successfully navigating opportunities and challenges that arise in your relationship and could benefit from guidance in anticipating new challenges and ways to successfully navigate those challenges. Or, perhaps you have a history of difficulty in resolving conflict that could benefit from learning new skills and understanding about healthy relationships.
Benefits of Couples Therapy after birth
Consider these potential benefits you and your partner might gain from working with a couples
Learn how to manage stress more effectively together as parenting partners.
Learn more effective communication skills to navigate decisions, big or small, you will face as parents.
Learn ways to understand and validate your partner as they go through new emotional experiences.
Practice asking for what you need in your relationship to maintain close, warm feelings toward your partner.
Explore and plan effective ways to support each other in managing stress or fatigue.
Consider strategies to maintain your friendship, romantic relationship, and roommate roles during periods where your parenting partnership requires a lot of time/attention.
Utilize a third-party perspective and mediation to discuss needs or ideas while working through feeling criticized in such discussions.
Explore patterns or beliefs that originate in childhood to better understand reactions or approaches in your current relationship.
Gain understanding of how your partner’s mental health challenges might impact your relationship or parenting experience.
Identify effective ways to serve as loving support for each other.
While many people wait to seek therapy until they are experiencing a problem they can no longer tolerate, you can be proactive in utilizing couples therapy to create a stronger foundation for your relationship and for your child. Finding a therapist that both you and your partner trust and connect with can be crucial. Investing in your parenting partnership can pay significant dividends for your relationship, which serves as the foundation for your growing family."
Dr. Mike is accepting new clients for couples and/or individual therapy, both in person and virtually. Please visit www.inctherapy.org to schedule directly with Dr. Mike. He'll always take the time to talk with you first to make sure it's a good fit. Your family is counting on you!