Are there ways you can strengthen a relationship, pre-baby?

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By: angela_sleepingCC BY 2.0
My partner and I are looking to start a family soon, but I know that one of the biggest impacts a child can have is on a relationship.

Are there any suggestions or advice that current parents can give about strengthening a relationship, pre-baby? -Stacey

We've talked about ways you can get your body ready for pregnancy…

And we've talked about ways you can get yourself ready for a baby…

But we haven't yet talked about how you can get your relationship ready for a baby! Which, I would venture to guess, would be a SUPER important thing to do. So let's discuss, Homies…

Therapy? Vacations? Family meetings? What are some of the ways you went about getting your relationship ready for a baby?

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  1. I remember reading an article saying to have duties assigned before baby comes. The more you can work as a team the stronger your relationship will be.

    2 agree
  2. Talk about boundaries! How frequent is too frequently with over-eager family visitors when the new baby arrives? This may actually be pertinent when you're pregnant too, I found that announcing my pregnancy make my calendar suddenly fill up because everyone was so excited to see me/us. But get into the details a bit – are you okay with your mom staying for a month but not okay with his mom seeing you breastfeeding?

    Take some time just for you guys. Designate a weekend here and there for a sort of date weekend – no chores, no outside obligations, no baby nesting. Go to the movies. Go for a walk or just sit at a pretty park bench if you're not up for walking.

    See if you can get your hands on your old baby pictures. You don't need a ton but it'll be fun for both of you to look at each other's baby pictures. Maybe some new stories about your childhoods will surface.

    If you both enjoy cooking and if you have the energy, make some freezer meals. These were also useful when I was too exhausted from being pregnant.

    If you've ever thought about doing couples counseling but didn't do it, do it now! When those sleep-deprived days come it helps to feel like you're a team and have each other's backs even when your's snapping at each other in the moment (and apologizing later).

    7 agree
  3. I think doing our Bradley Method class helped us a lot. It brought up all sorts of topics for discussion so we could get on the same page prior to labor/baby's arrival. My husband would complain occasionally about going (it was a 3-hour marathon class every week), but said after every class and especially after labor that he was really glad we did it. I was too, because he was an active, educated participant in our son's arrival. He was so calm and supportive, and we even had a few giggles over jokes from class during my labor. Lots of pain, but also fond memories of us bringing our son into the world as a team, which I think has continued into us parenting as a team.

    1 agrees
  4. when our young son came into the family, I noticed that all the weak spots in our marriage were exposed and in some cases ruptured. It was a bit startling to see how our method of communicating was "sufficent" before his arrival but not afterwards when real communication was necessary. We have worked really hard to make things work, and I think the last two years have been a lot harder than they really had to be (at least for me!) One thing that helped was to choose a "parenting philosophy" for both of us to agree upon. We sort of hit on the Montessori inspired/positive parenting as a point of agreement. It really doesn't matter which philosophy but having something agreed upon really saved a lot of contention about how to raise our son. And the stuff we hadn't really had a plan for was the stuff that became points of disagreement. Even the most mundane, little things can become fodder for huge fights.

    2 agree
    • Definitely agree with weak spots being exposed. My husband and I snapped at each other more in the first 4 months of our son's life than in the previous 4 years. Everyone's tired and unsure of what exactly to do. Apologies work wonders though! And lots of gratitude.

      1 agrees
  5. Communication! Explicitly asking for help, focusing on creating positive interactions that far outweigh any negative, learning to understand and accommodate your needs as individuals and as a couple, establishing a habit of checking in with each other periodically, agreeing on areas of compromise, etc.

    My kid is 14 months old and my husband and I are usually tired and sometimes frustrated, but we coparent well and feel our marriage is even stronger than before.

    Oh, and sex as frequent, varied, and dirty as you can swing it. Hot memories help get through occasional dry spells to come.

  6. Learn how to fight! It sounds strange, but conflicts will arise, ESPECIALLY during the difficult times of trying, if you run into any fertility problems, pregnancy, sleep deprived new baby months, asshole toddler years, ect ect. Communication is key, but also when there is a conflict, using "I" statements, listening to your partners side, discussing a compromise, explaining CALMLY your side, not rubbing it in when you're right, and being willing to admit that you're in the wrong will do great things and create a really strong partnership. It is SO EASY to bring up old conflicts during a fight to get them to back down, or even resort to insults, but that does not help anything and doesn't solve whatever the issue was. My husband and I are dealing with some infertility difficulties and just ended over a year of unemployment, and with that we have pretty high stress levels. We have conflicts regularly, but we always talk through them, nearly always come up with a solution or compromise in the first sitting. Conflict is normal and healthy! Don't be afraid of it, but do learn how to do it in a healthy positive way.

    3 agree
  7. I'm in the same boat in terms of the baby still being inside me and not knowing exactly how things will change, but someone recommended the book All Joy and No Fun, and I said 'nope – I'm not going to get sucked into parenting book world'. Turns out I was wrong. It's all about the impact that children have on parents, rather than the other way around, and it was a great insight into out different families juggle everything. If nothing else, it's made me way more mindful of communication.

    Totally +1 to Can-can dancer wannabe – all my friends who have recently given birth have struggled with boundaries. One person thinks it's cool to have parents/friends over all the time, and the other is struggling big time.

    Good luck!

    1 agrees
  8. I sat with partner one evening, as we were discussing the fact that many things change when having a child. Each of us brought up our fears and what we can do about some of them.
    He's afraid of no longer being able to do things together like we do now. Going on trips in Europe every year or two. So we decided to make one more trip together first.
    We were worried about our current apartment in a not very good area, and eventually decided to move further away from work, but closer to our parents, and in a better area.
    There were many more issues, and we're working on them slowly. Each of us trying to give the others fears a place. It certainly brought us together.
    Trying to dissolve them together gave us a common goal and let us work on something together.

    3 agree

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