Welcome to the beginning of a new series on the blog entitled Expert Editions. Expert Editions is a series of interviews with a variety of experts in their fields on issues we, as parents, face in parenthood.
For this first edition, I’m delighted to welcome Michael Kallenbach, a London-based relationship therapist who also writes for The Huffington Post and has commented widely across the media on the subject – who has very kindly agreed to answer a few questions I had on the matter of our partner relationship, and what we – and particularly new parents – can and should do to keep things in balance with our other halves whilst batting away the chaos of parenthood.
Why is having a baby just so stressful for a relationship?
Having a baby, particularly the first one, can be quite troublesome for a couple. Firstly, the man often feels unwanted and left out. What was originally a twosome becomes a threesome and that can be extremely difficult for a couple to negotiate in their relationship. Some careful thought and discussions are a good idea.
How can couples stay close after having a baby?
By sharing things and having fruitful talks about difficulties as well as pleasures of having a baby can make both partners aware of what the other is going through. Having open communication and dialogue is important. It’s also important for the man to realise that a woman’s body changes after the birth of a baby, so things do sometimes take a few months to get back to what they were.
In terms of spending time together as a couple, how much is needed to start bridging that gap?
I personally don’t believe that couples need to do everything together or spend every waking moment of the day or night together. I think that having their own space and time for their own hobbies/sports is a good thing. But sharing in the raising of a child is always a good thing, and again, talking about things, rather than brushing them under the carpet, is much better.
Is there anything that can be done before baby arrives to help pave the way for a smoother transition?
It’s very hard to know how a couple will be/react etc once their first born comes into their lives. These are times of enormous change and can present difficulties, so being aware of the other person and their needs, is always a good first step.
If there is one thing parents should do to not lose themselves as a couple it is….
Your one piece of advice to parents who are struggling within their relationship right now is…
If couples are finding it difficult to work things out themselves and they feel their relationship is crumbling and suffering with the new addition to the family, it’s important they seek some outside and professional help. There are many couples counsellors or family therapists available on the web, and careful consideration of who you pick as a therapist could have untold benefits and bring changes that a couple might need in their ongoing relationship.
Michael Kallenbach is a highly-skilled and experienced couples psychotherapist specialising in relationship and marriage counselling. He has extensive experience in working with a wide range of people and their relationship issues. To find out more about his practices see his website here.