Most young couples today have some type of premarital counseling to prepare for married life. Usually some questions are asked about plans for children. Some couples, today, are not planning to have children. Others seem quite ready and are making plans to include children in the future.
Yet once a couple are pregnant, most of the preparation for the baby centers around the delivery and getting the things necessary for taking care of a baby.
John Gottman and his colleagues saw a trend in the research they were doing with couples. Within three years of a baby’s birth their research showed a severe drop in marital happiness with an increase in conflict and hostility. This led them to intensively study couples before, during, and after having a baby. That research enabled them to predict, with great accuracy, which couples would be happy and which would not. Based on these findings, Bringing Baby Home has proven to be very successful in increasing the number of happy couples. The babies of these couples learned better and were happier too.
We would like to help young couples learn how to cope constructively with the changes brought about by the birth of a baby and raising children.
I will be adding short articles with exercises for couples to do together to strengthen their marriage, learn how to deal with the inevitable conflicts they have, and how to bring their baby into their relationship in a way that will make their marriage and family stronger and happier.
Deepening Friendship – We are husband and wife before baby comes and after he’s grown and starts his own family. We must strengthen our friendship for the long-haul.
- We deepen our friendship as we become aware of and learn our spouse’s likes and dislikes, preferences, daily activities, hobbies, life dreams and history. Read the article: Open-Ended Questions. Try the Exercise: Open-Ended Questions Exercise
- We deepen our friendship when we express and receive compliments. Affirmation and appreciation are strong relationship boosters. Read about Affirmation and Appreciation
- The Relationship Account -explains how we deposit into our relationship to keep a satisfying and happy marriage.
- Expressing Desires Exercise is a good tune-up exercise to boost the positive deposits into your relationship. Perhaps you and your spouse have been missing cues and opportunities to connect.
- Relationship Disconnects – explores reasons our approaches fail. Sometimes the problem is in the sending and sometimes in the receiving.
- Expressing Needs Exercise -may help you practice talking about your current needs that are not being met as you would like.
- The Positive Point of View – the importance of believing in your relationship and giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt even when things go wrong and how to get to this point of view.
- The Rituals Exercise – When we have good rituals of connection in place, it is much easier to have a positive point of view.
Dealing with Conflicts – Every couple disagree, especially with the added stress of having a baby and raising children. This series of lessons will help any couple address their disagreements in ways that will help them make better adjustments and compromises for a strong healthy marriage.
- Beginning of Conflicts and the Gentle Start-Up – This lesson lays the foundation of a better approach to disagreements than fighting. Learn the best way to start a discussion that has the best chance of finding a good resolution.
- The Gentle Start-Up Exercise gives you a chance to practice turning harsh start-ups to gentle ones.
- Take a Break! – When an argument is spinning out of control and tempers flare, take a break. This lesson helps you learn how to get calmed down so that you can work towards a solution.
- Accepting Influence – Accepting influence is one of the most important ingredients for a healthy, happy marriage. How is it possible to accept your spouse’s differing opinions.
- Solvable vs Perpetual Problem– Every relationship has both solvable and perpetual problems. So, what can you do about these so they don’t destroy your marriage?
- Repair and Compromise– This is the final article in Dealing with Conflicts. When an argument if spinning out of control, Repair is needed. The best solution to most conflicts is compromise. Learn how to come to a satisfactory compromise.
Importance of Dad – We know mom is important to a baby’s development. Take some time to see how important is Dad and how to maximize his effect on his children.
- How important is Dad?– This is an article written a few years ago, but is a good introduction to the importance of Dad in a child’s life.
- Dads and Their Daughters– This article highlights the long term effect Dads have on their daughters.
- Moms and Dads Play Differently – Kids need both kinds of play.
- Mom and Dad During Pregnancy – So many changes are happening from the time the couple knows they are pregnant. This is a time of preparation in attitudes and expectations. The article includes important topics to discuss during pregnancy and approaching delivery.
Baby – We begin to study our baby as soon as we see them after delivery. Often, however, we don’t know what to look for.
- Start by reading the article Baby Expressions. Then try the fun exercises:
- How awake or asleep is your baby? – See how well you can identify the States of Consciousness of these babies.
- What do different emotions look like on a baby’s face?- See how well you can identify the emotions of these babies: Baby Emotions
Intimacy after Baby
- So What about Intimacy After Baby?– Ways to talk about your needs and frustrations with intimacy after baby arrives.
- The Sex Life of Masters and Disasters – John Gottman’s research results on couples with amazing sex lives.
Parents and Child
- Turning Towards Our Child includes how we recognize our baby’s desire to connect and over-stimulation and how to allow self-soothing
- Playing Together – It is very important that mom and dad play together with their baby and children. Playing together with our children is a great way to support each other in co-parenting their children.
- Affirm Your Child – Affirmation goes a long way to reducing stress and increasing pleasure between parents. It is also one of the best ways to help our children develop a healthy self-esteem. Try the exercise included in this article.
Additional Gottman Institute Helps
- The Meaning of Money– a tool from Gottman Institute to help you determine what money means to you so you make good joint decisions on spending/saving.
- Gottman published their Card Decks as an app for your phone or tablet. These are a great way to aid your communication on a variety of marital needs and expectations. To see a short video about what the cards contain see: Vimeo Card Decks To download the app to your devices, find Gottman Card Decks app on iTunes and Google Play.
Articles of interest from other sources
- The Marriage You Really Want – lots of great articles on marriage written by Mike Constantine.
- Secure Wife or Insecure Wife– Matthew L. Jacobson tells husbands how they cause their wife to be secure or insecure.
- We Lost Our Baby – But We Didn’t Want to Lose Our Marriage – a powerful story from Christianity Today