Last month in, Open-Ended Questions, I discussed the importance of getting to know your spouse. So, how did you do with learning something new about your spouse every day this past month? Were you able to ask open-ended questions? Did your spouse enjoy these discussions?
If you had difficulty with the Open-Ended Questions Exercise at first, did you improve with practice? Did you find less threatening ways to ask your questions? Did you find a time of the day that worked better for both of you? It is worth making adjustments so you can keep learning about your spouse. Keep building your shared relationship.
I’m sure many of you had fun with the questions. Keep them up and get more creative as you practice this skill. Asking questions like these may take some practice, but every couple can benefit from the renewed understanding that develops.
Last month I ended by encouraging you to observe your baby or child to know them even better. Did you see how he/she reacts to tastes, smells, noise, smiles, hugs, strangers, and being alone? I’m sure you already knew the answers to many of these.
Some of these preferences are based in their personality and won’t change much throughout life. But others may change very often. What they liked yesterday, they may hate today. Their choice of toys and games they play with you changes very quickly too. So stay flexible and alert.
Though little babies do not understand your words, they do understand your tone. So, as you notice something about them, talk about it. Say things like, “I see you really like bananas today. Bananas are yummy.” Or “Ah, so you don’t want to play Peek-a-Boo right now. This Little Piggy is your favorite game today.” As you practice reflecting out loud what you are observing about your baby and child, you build bridges with them. They will feel more connected to you and your parent-child relationship strengthens.
I have a fun exercise for you to try now. There are different levels of consciousness that you can observe even in little babies. Go to, States of Consciousness, with pictures of these levels of consciousness. Try to match the pictures with the descriptions. See how well you do. Then be aware of how your baby demonstrates these levels of consciousness. (Note: Both parents should try this!)
Then go to: Baby Emotions. Since babies cannot tell you in words, it is important we can identify their facial expressions. See how well you do at recognizing these Baby Emotions. Be sure to tell your baby what you observe. They will learn the words for the emotions they feel as you continue to use the correct words. Of course, sometimes you will miss it entirely. That’s OK, keep practicing and you will get better at this non-verbal communication.
The Gottman Institute calls these exercises, building love maps. As we gain knowledge of each other and each of our children, we have a better ‘map’ to their heart. Do whatever you can, even in small ways, to build your understanding and create meaningful connections. It’s an idea with a great future investment.
The next article in this series is: Affirm and Appreciate.
For more articles on relating to your baby together, you can go on to read:
- Mom and Dad Together During Pregnancy.
- If your baby is already born, you may want to go on to: How Important is Dad?