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. Many parents 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 a crying baby that can last hours.
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, find themselves fighting after baby arrives. It is common for parenting couples to experience conflict around finances, careers, division of household duties, sex, in-laws, and how each partner spends free time.
This news is discouraging and 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), couples who committed to an 8 session MBRE program found significantly positive benefits within their relationship. Some of the results included increased feelings of closeness and relatedness, greater acceptance of partner, less conflict, and greater overall relationship satisfaction, lowered stress, greater flexibility in thinking.
Some of the key themes of mindfulness practice include raising presence, awareness, acceptance, and compassion. You can see why this would be good for a relationship.
New parents may not have time to participate in a lot of extra activities outside the home with a newborn. Therefore it may be difficult to commit to mindfulness-based course together. There are numerous apps, youtube videos, and books centered on mindfulness that couples can easily build into their routine.
Mindfulness practice is something that parents can do formally, such as in a silent sitting meditation. Or they can find small moments throughout the day to practice.
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!
Hello! I am Cristina Trette. I am a Couples Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified in Perinatal Mental Health. I write on all things related to relationships, parenthood, and connection.