Maybe it’s moving from 2 to 3, growing the family, family values, routine, anchor, responsibility, less time for romance, changing roles.
As you open up your love to allow a third person into the mix, new dynamics are introduced. Your focus might shift away from one another and onto your baby, you may have less time for conversation as you were used to before, you might be feeling more tired, or just overstimulated from caring for your baby.
As challenging as it is to add a baby into your life, the strength of your relationship remains the anchor for your family, and so nurturing it becomes perhaps even more important than it has ever been previously. I like the way Britta Bushnell explains this in her book "Transformed by Birth" when she encourages us to look at our relationship as a third person with needs of their own. In this way, remember to give your relationship the attention it deserves even when it might feel like it's low on the priority list.
As a way of setting the foundation for your strong relationship after the birth of the baby, start engaging in these conversations now. Imagine life with a baby just some moments after the birth you have been so eagerly preparing for. One of the great things about reading this while still pregnant is that you can already start to practice and introduce some of these elements into your life.
- Role division of the new tasks of child care
- Role division of house chores
- How much time will you be spending away from your jobs?
- What kind of daily or weekly routines can you introduce to carve out time for your relationship? - How will you discuss an issue before it becomes the biggest thing in your relationship?
- If you start to feel like it's too much, who can you turn to for help? Who can help with another pair of hands?
The last point is especially important and I want to spend a little more time exploring that.
If you feel like you and your partner and getting swamped under the pressure, responsibility, emotions, etc, know that it is totally normal and acceptable. Also know that the way we are raising children today is not the same way it was 200 years a go. Our biological instincts have not caught up yet and it feels unnatural.
Get thinking, already now, who are those extra pair of hands that you trust and that can help with the baby for when you and your partner need a breather. Maybe you want to start nurturing your relationship with your neighbors as a resource, perhaps you can already look for paid help if that is an option, talk to some friends ahead of time to explain that this might be a need in postpartum so that it doesn't come as a surprise.
In the meantime, enjoy the here and now. Connect with one another, talk about these important topics, imagine your life together with your baby (the beautiful and the tough moments), and feel your relationship growing stronger.