My husband Randy and I have been together for almost 35 years now. We were together for seven years before having our first child. 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, almost 30 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.
In my work with new families at Mothering Touch, I see many new parents struggling with very similar issues. New parents are SO 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, parents need support in thinking and feeling and talking their way into a new, stronger partnership after their babies come.
Drawing on extensive experience of helping (and being!) new parents three of us developed a workshop. Joss Hurtig-Mitchell (a clinical counsellor), Tammy Van Hinte (a family mediator) and myself, Eva Bild (a parenting educator) designed this course for parents who are facing these challenges. Keeping the Love Alive: When Partners Become Parents has been a fabulous experience for 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.”
The class runs on two Monday evenings from 7-9:30pm and the next one starts on November 27.
Keeping the Love Alive: When Partners Become Parents involves lots of discussion and activities and is very skills-based. The couples 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 evening, the goal is that each couple leaves feeling closer and more bonded.
For more information or to register, click HERE.