The Journey of Motherhood: Reconnecting with Your Partner


Motherhood is a journey. 


This guest post is written by Laura Otton, LCSW, who has a private practice based out of Huntington, NY, specializing in all things motherhood ranging from fertility issues and pregnancy loss, to pregnancy and the postpartum period. She is running The Journey of Motherhood, a series of workshops, at The Nesting Place in West Islip NY. The third workshop, Reconnecting with Your Partner, is the inspiration for this post and will be held this Saturday January 11, 2019. You can learn more about Laura practice and workshops by visiting her website at therapyformotherhood.com

This is Part 3 of a four-part series



As I’m creating the content for my workshop Reconnecting with Your Partner I’m realizing it’s about so much more than reconnecting (put your phones down! Sit close together on the sofa when you’re watching tv!). 

It’s about communication and our inherent need to be heard and understood. It’s about feeling attractive to the other. It’s about creating the space in our lives again for our partnership to be the foundation of the family, not a castoff side note. 

Our marriages/partnerships take work—time, energy, communication, patience, self-reflection—that is often difficult in even the best of times. But bring a new baby into the mix with the sleep deprivation, financial strain, messiness, and outside intrusions from family—and, well, no marriage can hide completely from the worst parts of ourselves being hurtled at the other. 

Think back to the last argument (heated discussion? fight?) you had with your partner. Was it over how to load the dishwasher? Who got more sleep last night? (not me! I’m the most tired!) Who gets a break from the baby when working-partner arrives home? Something a family member said? I’d challenge you to think about what the argument was really about. 

Usually it boils down to something like, “I do more work, I’m more tired, you’re not helping enough; I need you to understand how hard this is.” We all know that the best relationships have open, loving and honest communication in which each person is heard and feels validated. The problem so often is that we’re not speaking in terms of feelings when we argue. 

We throw accusations. We make lists, spoken or unspoken, of wrongs against us, and this makes it hard to see that so often both partners feel exactly the same, but are reacting in different ways—are handling the new stress of baby differently. 

It is common for new moms to feel rage, sadness, or fear they hadn’t experienced before, and the partner is the nearest and most vulnerable victim. And for the partner—he or she can feel new pressures to support or to earn, or they may feel left behind or clueless as to their new role. Both are afraid of the baby not getting the best, of the baby being hurt, of messing up. 

Addressing intimacy is also a difficult but crucial part of the work. Its joked about how it feels impossible to ever even want to be intimate again—covered in spit-up, unshowered, exhausted, stressed, and just worn out from all the touch children require.

If you’re struggling in your relationship right now, know that you’re not alone. It is easy to see how even the best relationships are tested during this time. There are tried-and-true ways to improve the quality of communication that trickles down to your children. There are ways to weave romance and affection into the everyday. 

Your relationship can grow and strengthen as you watch the other be a parent—giving and receiving love from the child. Of course time can help relationships as the child ages and you get more sleep, but sometimes the rifts do nothing but grow as time goes on—for children will always be needing, and if the partners have turned into roommates/coworkers for the family—well, you can see where this goes. 

Love is pushed out for the sake of efficiency and avoiding disagreements. The best thing for a child is to have love from his or her family; to witness healthy communication, respect, boundary-setting, affection, and helpfulness. Working on your relationship with your partner is worth all the time, energy, and resources you can give because it is the foundation for the family. 

First, you need the right tools. Therapy can do just that—provide the tools, tweak the language, lay the groundwork—for the partnership to grow out of the postpartum period into a relationship that withstands and thrives. I’ve enjoyed creating the content for this workshop because it’s a good refresher no matter what stage you’re in. Though I still maintain I load the dishwasher the right way.

1 comment

  1. An extremely informative write up this was. I too realised that once we become parents we forget to value each other and get into that futility of proving more worthy. Only after I had my second child, did I realise that I needed to change my perspective. I do not compare with my partner now. I do my thing. He needs to do his thing. We have things that need to be done together and then there are things we ought to do with each other, for each other. Thats our We-time!

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