Pre-Baby Therapy Saves Relationships

Sure, it sounds like a great idea: You love each other, so why wouldn’t a little bundle of joy enhance your dreaminess? Well, turns out, it’s not that simple.

A recent story by Andrea Petersen in the Wall Street Journal examines why so many marriages (about two-thirds of couples) falter after the birth of a first child. Blame it on a slew of new stressors: Existing conflict (such as finances or the household division of labor) can intensify, men can feel displaced or left out by the bond between mama and baby, conversations become consumed by logistical issues, the rehashing of every detail of the baby’s activities, lack of sleep, etc.

For women, in particular, the dissatisfaction can strike almost immediately, thanks to hormonal changes, the physical and emotional demands of motherhood, and (often) the loss of a life beyond the nursery doors.

But there are solutions — and some couples are now choosing to baby-proof more than their electrical outlets.

Writes Petersen: “A growing number of mental-health professionals are advising couples to undergo pre-baby counseling to hash out marital minefields, such as divvying up baby-related responsibilities, money issues and expectations for sex and social lives. A growing number of hospitals, midwives and doulas (birth coaches who provide physical and emotional support) are teaching relationship skills alongside childbirth education classes.”‘

The counseling helps couples learn how to work things out — one couple learned they work through things best while taking a walk together — and offers tips for how to solidify the foundation of the relationship, such as by carving out alone time and learning how to support each other.

Now, I don’t have a baby. Or a marriage. Or a boyfriend. Or a relationship with a plant that has lasted for more than a year. But I do have friends who have both babies and marriages and I sometimes get exhausted by association. Most of my friends appear to have held up well under the stress, but they all acknowledge that having a baby changes everything.

If you go into parenthood with a strong relationship and an equal desire to be parents — and I think that last part is really key — surely you have a better chance of weathering the tough transition from two people in love to two people who have a little blob of dependence that occupies your every waking moment.

What do you think? Would you consider pre-baby counseling? Or, if you already have a baby, do you think your relationship could have benefitted from this kind of therapy?

Not wanting to jump into pre-baby therapy, but need some before-birth parenting tips? Watch the below video.

A Quick Review by the Editor:

I think the suggestion that babies come between couples is outlandish. Babies know nothing about the coping skills of their parents when they’re born. What comes between couples during the child raising years is the resentment parents feel toward one another – usually because one person assumes the bulk of child care – and toward the child at times, because it’s often difficult to pin down why they’re crying.

There again, that’s hardly the child’s fault; they cry because they have no other means to signal mom or dad that they need something. That said, I think pre-baby counseling is a good idea. I wish it had been in place when I had my children, although I doubt their father would have gone. In retrospect, there were so many things I didn’t understand, and it would have been helpful to talk to someone about them.