By: Cristina Trette
After having a baby, 67 percent of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet, according to research by John Gottman, PhD. The arrival of the first baby can throw parents into a total life change overnight. Many individuals, used to life with flexibility and autonomy, have a difficult time adjusting to the demands of a newborn, despite the fact that they love their new child. Some moms, who had been very successful in careers, find themselves overwhelmed with the daily tasks of newborn care which includes nursing or bottle feeding round the clock, middle of the night diaper changes, and periods of holding baby while he or she cries that can last hours.
There was a time when new mothers were showered with support from grandmothers, aunts, and sisters after a baby arrived. But today, many modern moms are caring for newborns at home in isolation. Unfortunately, the isolation is contributing to a host of problems, including marital distress. Learning how to care for a newborn, without any support, can feel a marathon that just won’t end.
Although the birth of a baby is exciting and joyful, a new baby can create significant stress. Many couples who would describe themselves as having a happy and loving relationship before the birth of the first child, may find themselves fighting after baby arrives. It is common for couples to experience conflict around finances, careers, division of household duties, sex, in-laws and extended family, and how each partner spends free time.
This news is discouraging. Yet, it leads to a very important question. Is there anything that couples can do to ensure that their relationship will remain strong and connected even after the birth of their first child? Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement (MBRE) may be one answer. In a study done at The University of North Carolina (Carsen et all, 2004), it was found that couples who committed to an 8 session MBRE program found significantly positive benefits. Some of the results included increased: relationship satisfaction, relatedness, closeness, and acceptance of one another. It appears that mindfulness practices being actively applied once the baby arrives, or even before, can prevent a marital satisfaction from plummeting once the baby comes.
New parents may not have time to participate in a lot of extra activtiesoutside the home when they have a newborn. Therefore it may be difficult to commit to mindfulness-based course together. Yet, many of these practices are simple to add to a daily routine. If the couple can set aside even 15 - 30 minutes a day for mindfulness practice together, perhaps while baby sleeps, they will reap the benefits of having a more connected relationship while becoming more responsive parents. Below is a short list of mindfulness practices to help you get started:
Do you practice mindfulness with your partner or spouse? If you do, please tell me about the practice and how it has impacted your relationship in the comment box below!