What many people--male or female really want from their relationship is a best friend. We want someone who will listen, be supportive and show respect.
With the responsibilities of parenthood, couples have to make an effort not to let friendship slip away. One way is to keep the relaxed, enjoyable, friendship type conversations going in your relationship. Some ideas for how to talk like friends are:
Many people believe that there is a big drop in marital satisfaction for all couples shortly after the birth of their first child. While this may be true for some couples, there are other couples who seem to grow closer when their first child is born. So what's the difference? Based on his research, John Gottmann claims that the difference depends on whether the husband makes the transition to parenthood "along with his wife or gets left behind." Your relationship changes "when baby makes three." Your couple "we-ness" now includes a third member. It is not uncommon for a new father, despite the fact that he loves his baby, to wish that he could have his wife back.
In order for your relationship to continue to grow, both of you need to make the shift to parenthood. In order to feel like a father in addition to a partner, fathers must be included in the world of mother and baby. Here are some ways of doing that.
"I talk and talk and talk, and I haven't taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week."
"...in the end, there is nothing a man can do that a woman can't, except be a father."
One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't, dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room."
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."
"A friend is someone who's happy to see you and doesn't have any immediate plans for your improvement."
When baby doesn't sleep, it affects all of you. Sleep deprived parents report feeling more stress and tension. Your lack of sleep and baby's cranky behavior may make being warm and responsive very hard as a parent and as a partner in your couple relationship.
You may think "just give it time" and your baby will outgrow the problem, but studies suggest this may not be true. If ignored, sleeping difficulties can last a very long time. There is a 40-80% chance that a child with sleeping problems at 15 to 48 months will still have the problems 2 to 3 years later if nothing is done. Fortunately, children's sleeping habits can rapidly improve when parents take the appropriate steps. The article "Sleep Problems" in this issue of Parenting the First Year provides some specific tips to make bedtime easier.
Since sleep issues affect both Mom and Dad, it's important to discuss the problem and steps you plan to take to improve the situation. Choices such as staying up later with baby, letting baby lay down with you, or letting baby cry after checking for problems will affect both of you. Talk about your feelings. What if you enjoy snuggling in bed with baby, but your partner feels left out in the cold? Will you be able to ignore baby's cries, after you've checked that nothing is wrong? Are you both willing to follow a bedtime routine for baby?
There are many ways to overcome bedtime hassles. As you consider your options, think about what feels right for all of you. For additional information go to the National Sleep Foundation website at www.sleepfoundation.org.