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  • Writer's pictureLeticia Lugo

It's Normal for New Parents to Fight: Here's How to Cope

The arrival of a sweet baby is a momentous occasion in any couple's life. It's a time filled with joy, love, and an abundance of precious moments.

The beautiful image you once held of your future as a family is now your reality, but it's not without its challenges. While you both looked forward to your little one's arrival, you might have envisioned blissful moments and a strengthened connection as new parents. However, as your baby makes their grand entrance into the world, you and your partner may find yourselves in unfamiliar territory, where disagreements and tensions become more frequent. It's natural to worry about the impact these changes may have on your relationship, but it's essential to remember that you're not alone in this experience.

Research consistently shows that 9 out of 10 new parents report a decrease in relationship happiness during the first few years of their child's life. So, it's time to let go of the unrealistic expectations set by society and embrace the reality of parenthood.

So, what's responsible for this nose-dive in relationship satisfaction? Let's break it down.

In this article, we'll explore some common issues, providing valuable advice for new parents on how to overcome them and, in doing so, find a way to keep both you and your precious baby content and thriving.

  • Sleep Deprivation: A Well-Rested Team

When you're a new parent, you're likely to be sleep-deprived for months on end. Sleep, or the lack of it, plays a significant role in the equation of postpartum relationship challenges. It's a no-brainer, quite literally. For most new parents, a full night's sleep is a distant memory.

What's more, the science behind this issue is compelling. The connection between sleep and relationship dynamics is described as "bidirectional." It means that how well we sleep can directly impact our relationship happiness, and vice versa. When we enjoy quality sleep, our relationships tend to be happier. In contrast, when sleep becomes a rarity, negative feelings about our relationships tend to increase. It's a delicate dance, and our baby's arrival often sets off a vicious cycle that disrupts this delicate balance.

The baby's arrival leads to sleep deprivation, which, in turn, heightens parental frustration. This frustration may then manifest as dissatisfaction within the relationship. Unhappiness in the relationship, you guessed it, leads to even poorer sleep. It's a cycle that can leave any new parent feeling exhausted, both mentally and physically.

To ease this postpartum conflict:

Create a Sleep Schedule. Think of it like teamwork. Establish a plan for taking care of your little one during the night. Share responsibilities so that both of you can enjoy uninterrupted sleep. When you work together, everyone wins with some rest.

Ask for Help. Don't hesitate to lean on your trusted friends and family members. They can lend a hand now and then, allowing you both to catch up on precious sleep. Remember, it takes a village!

Talk it Out. We know it's tough, but try to open up about your sleep needs and how you're feeling. Share your exhaustion and concerns with each other. By communicating openly, you can come up with strategies to ensure you both get the rest you need.

  • New Baby Learning Curve: Together in this Journey

The new baby learning curve can be steeper than a roller coaster, regardless of your prior experience. Despite any number of younger siblings you may have cared for or your expertise in changing diapers, parenthood presents an entirely unique set of challenges.

It encompasses a wide spectrum of experiences, from the joyous moments to the downright daunting ones. Finding your footing in this new world of parenting can be a breeze for some (as some babies rarely spit up) or quite a challenge for others (with a knack for projectile vomiting before you can react). What's tough for you might come effortlessly to your partner. In times when we feel inept or scared, our patience can run thin, leading to snappiness and arguments.

This becomes particularly delicate for new parents, as our love for our sweet, helpless infants means that we seldom direct our frustrations toward them. While that's great news for our babies, it can be a source of frustration and tension directed at our partners, who bear the brunt of our emotional strain.

To address this challenge:

Communication is Key. The first and most crucial step in preventing conflicts stemming from the new baby learning curve is open and honest communication. Share your fears, concerns, and experiences with your partner. Together, you can navigate this uncharted territory as a team.

Prioritize teamwork and support one another, recognizing that you're both learning and growing in your roles as parents. Divide childcare and household responsibilities fairly. Create a schedule that allows both partners to have some downtime, reducing stress and frustration.

Be Patient and Supportive. It's completely normal to feel unsure sometimes. Be patient with yourself and each other. Remember, it's okay to make mistakes as new parents. Offer encouragement and support during this learning process.

  • Unrealistic Expectations: Keeping it Real

In the beautiful chaos of new parenthood, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of unrealistic expectations. We've all seen those picture-perfect moments on social media and heard stories of effortlessly smooth transitions into parenthood. But it's essential to remember that every family's journey is unique, and comparing yours to others can set you up for disappointment.

Your partner might have their own parenting style or may need some time to adjust. Instead of dwelling on what you thought parenthood should look like, focus on what it is in reality. Embrace the learning curve together, supporting one another through the ups and downs. By letting go of those unrealistic expectations, you can pave the way for a more harmonious and content family life.

To manage unrealistic expectations:

Honest Conversations. Have heartfelt talks about what you both expect in your roles as parents. Share your thoughts and feelings openly, and work together to understand each other's perspectives.

Stay Flexible. Parenting rarely follows a strict plan. Be ready to adapt and change as you go. Embracing flexibility can help you tackle the ever-evolving needs of your baby and your relationship.

Celebrate Efforts. Focus on the positive! Express gratitude for each other's hard work and contributions. By highlighting the good things, you can reduce the chances of misunderstandings and conflicts

Conclusion: Nurturing Your Parenthood Journey

By using these down-to-earth tips, you and your partner can tackle the challenges of sleep deprivation, the learning curve of parenting, and the expectations you have for each other more effectively. Keep in mind that your journey is unique, and it's okay to make some mistakes along the way.

With patience, mutual understanding, and unwavering support for each other, you'll not only weather the storm but also emerge from it with a relationship that's not just stronger but also richer and more profound than ever before. Your love story is just getting started, and it's an adventure worth every twist and turn.

Remember, you're in this together!

It is with great appreciation and admiration that I credit Rhona Berens for her invaluable contribution to this article/blog post. Credit to "Yes, New Parents Fight A Ton. Here's How To Keep The Peace" article on Your Tango.


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