Relationship Changes After Parenthood
Becoming a parent is a big deal. It usually changes us, and often in ways we don’t expect. This can lead to relationship changes after parenthood that can be really unsettling.
We’re all used to our various roles, like son/daughter, brother/sister, friend, colleague etc. Adding ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ onto that list impacts your whole sense of identity. And new values and goals often come with it.
You might feel differently about work, money, or family. You’ll almost certainly feel differently about time when you have a lot less of it to yourself.
And all of this is hard! As Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley puts it,
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
To stay connected to your partner, you need to go through these changes together.
Here are a few tips (and btw it’s not too late to catch up if you didn’t do this stuff at the time):
- Talk to your partner about what you’re thinking and feeling about it all
- Tell them what it’s like for you to adjust to your lives becoming more intertwined than ever
- Ask them open-ended questions about what the experience is like for them
- Share in your love of your new arrival
- Remember to look into each other’s eyes as well as your baby’s!
Did you find becoming “Mum” or “Dad” changed you in ways you didn’t expect?
Did you feel like you could talk about it?
Would it have helped to talk about it more?
Dealing With Relationship Changes
People change an enormous amount over the course of their lives.
That might sound like a scary idea when you first fall in love with and make a commitment to a partner.
And it can be worrying when you go through the relationship changes after baby.
But think about this: would you want them to be the same person at 50 that they were at 30?
And what about when life changes you? That might be tough on your partner sometimes too, but you need room to grow, right?
Most of us want to be in relationships where there’s space for both to evolve.
So how do you make a relationship work over time when you’re both going to change so much?
It might help to think of the commitment that you make as being to the relationship between you, rather than to the person that your partner is when you get married or decide to make a life together.
This shift in mindset can make it easier to cope when your partner inevitably changes over time.
As Robin Sharma says,
“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and so gorgeous at the end.”
How true is that?! (Although I’m thinking that gorgeous feeling might sometimes just be relief that things seem to have finally settled down a bit!)
When you’re going through a big change, it can help to remind yourself that it’s normal to find it hard. It’s normal to struggle with the unknown, the feeling out of control, the messiness of it all.
But hang in there. Change can be uncomfortable and disorienting. But the alternative is stagnation, and no one wants that, for themselves or their relationships.
Be The Change You Want To See In Your Relationship
What your relationship changes after parenthood, take it as a trigger to start thinking about how you can take charge, and make it better.
What does ‘be the change you want to see in your relationship’ mean in practice?
If you want your partner to be kinder, be kinder.
If you want them to pay you more attention, pay them more attention.
Want them to kiss you when they get home from work..? You get the idea.
Often when we feel starved of something in our relationships, our partners are feeling something similar.
Stop and think about that for a moment. Are you feeling starved of anything in your relationship? Might your partner be missing it too?
Sometimes in relationships, as elsewhere in life, we get into a scarcity mindset.
We start thinking things like “why should I compliment him when he never compliments me?”
This is understandable, but it holds you back.
Start with you, because you’re the only person you can change.
Start with you, because you’ll feel better when you’re being true to your values. (You value kindness, respect, and thoughtfulness, right?)
And most of all, you’ve got to start with you because if you keep waiting for your partner to make things better, it might never happen.
Sometimes we get stuck in patterns that aren’t serving us.
This might look like:
- Noticing the irritating things they do and not the contribution they make
- Making less effort with them than we do with others in our lives
- Speaking to them in ways that bring out the worst in them
Try treating your partner with much more respect and appreciation, and see what happens.
People have a way of living up to our expectations.
Step 1 of my 6-step relationship transformation program Love Happy Live Free is take charge of your relationship (without taking responsibility for everything!)
Relationship Changes After Parenthood: Losing Centre Stage
Craig Ferguson said,
“When you become a parent you go from being a star in the movie of your own life to the supporting player in the movie of someone else’s.”
One minute you’re the star of a romcom, the next minute you’re wondering what movie you’re even in?!
Were you prepared for how having a baby would change your relationship?
Do you think it would have been easier if you had known these challenges were coming?
Babies are hard work and most couples worry about the state of their relationship as they adjust.
That’s why it’s so important that we all open up more about what this phase is like.
Because if you’re struggling and everyone else seems to be gazing lovingly at each other, it’s easy to conclude that it’s your relationship that’s the problem.
But that’s not necessarily the case!
All of this is very common as couples adjust to life as parents:
- An increase in conflict
- Your sex life declining or even stopping completely
- Talking less than you did before
- Finding the conversations you do have more stressful
If this sounds like your relationship, don’t panic.
These changes are completely normal – in the short term – and don’t necessarily mean that your relationship is in trouble.
Talk to your partner about your worries.
And talk to your friends and family too.
You don’t know what a comfort it might be to someone else who is also having a hard time to hear from someone else that they’re not the only one.
If your relationship hasn’t been quite the same since you became parents, check out the Contented Relationship Challenge.
What do you think of this quote? Has becoming a parent felt like going from being the star of your own movie to a supporting part in your kid/kids’ to you?
Having A Great Relationship After Parenthood