My husband Randy and I were together for seven years before having our first son. In that time we completed a total of 5 post-secondary degrees, got married (and organized a wedding with 120 guests), moved three times (including one move abroad), spent several long periods living apart because of school and work, lived with my parents (for a year) and renovated a 1500 square-foot apartment. We had lots of stress. And lots of arguments. We also had lots of opportunities to grow as a couple and as a team.
But it wasn’t until Daniel was born that we realized how important it was for us to be a team. Because now, we were not the only ones who would be made unhappy if our team did not succeed; our son would be made unhappy too. We were really stuck now!
Not only did we suddenly recognize the permanence of this team, but we also were suddenly aware of all sorts of issues we had each taken for granted. We had never thought to discuss questions like:
Who will get up in the night with the baby?
Whose paid work is more important?
Who decides how often we bathe the baby, or change his sheets, or wipe his nose?
Who makes sure there will be food in the fridge, clean clothes, toilet paper?
There were big issues and small issues. Some were easy to resolve through rational discussion and some came with strong feelings that made resolution difficult. There are some which, 24 years later, are still not resolved. We still love each other and live together, and now there are other issues we have to struggle with. But that time was hard. And it was made harder by the fact that we had no guidance through the challenges. We had not expected them, they were different from the ones our parents had faced in the 50’s and 60’s, and we were not intimate enough with any other couples to find support among our peers.
Now, in my work with new families at Mothering Touch, I see many new mothers and father struggling with very similar issues. Women and men are both surprised when a very egalitarian, “post-modern” relationship changes suddenly to become much more traditional once a baby comes along. It is clear to me, new parents need support in thinking and feeling and talking their way into a new, stronger partnership after their babies come.
Since last September I have been working with two wonderful women, Tammy Van Hinte (a family mediator) and Joss Hurtig-Mitchell (a clinical counsellor) on a course for parents who are facing these challenges. It has been a fabulous experience for the three of us to share our insights about how families can grow strong and work well. We have had a great time structuring the information and the skills we feel that new parents need to have as they start on “The Baby Project.” And this week, we get to teach the course!
I so look forward to putting our planning into action on Sunday Afternoon. We are limiting the first class to 6 couples so that we can give everyone the time they need. The course will run in two parts. Part One – “The Baby Project” – will be on Sunday May 5 from 2-5:30pm. Part Two – “The Family Project” will take place on Sunday June 9 (2-5:30pm).
The workshop will involve lots of discussion and activities and it is very skills-based. We hope the couples will find support from each other, but our focus is on how each couple works as a team. Most of the activities involve the partners working with each other. At the end of each afternoon, we hope couples will leave feeling closer and more bonded.
We can’t wait to share the fruits of our reflection and research. We hope to see you there! For more information or to register, click HERE.