Brier Jirka is a sex therapist with the Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center. She blogs every other Tuesday.Read more from Brier here.
The No. 1 listed change during the transition to parenthood is a decline in marital satisfaction, according to a 2005 study.
When a child enters the picture, you are not just best friends and lovers anymore, you are parents. The energy and time you once had for each other and yourself now has to be split three ways to allow for important family time.
The most important thing to master as new parents is the skill of multitasking.
Sounds easy, huh?
Parents know this isn't true. You have full-time jobs, kid activities, household responsibilities – I know I'm preaching to the choir on this one. When you are new parents the juggling act can seem impossible.
As you would expect, many new parents think baby is the priority. As parents we want to put our child first out of love, but also out of guilt that we “should” be doing that. Well, I'm here to tell you, it's not the way to go.
The truth is, when you have a child, you have to place your needs first. Coming in a close second is taking care of your family, your marriage or relationship. By doing so, your relationship will stay strong and you can be the best parents you can to your child or children.
So what do you do now? How do you find the balance you need to be a great mom, great partner, great friend, while being great to yourself.
Lighten your load. Much easier said than done, I know. This is coming from the therapist who works 10-hour days and is 6 months pregnant.
Here are some ideas:
1. Set realistic expectations. Don't stress out planning a first birthday party that your kid will not remember in the first place.
2. Have a set date night or day during the week. You can leave the house or see if someone can take your child for an hour or two and stay home together.
3. Evaluate your children's schedule. If they are in three sports, play an instrument and have school functions, it's too much.
4. Talk about your expectations after baby is born. According to Dr. John Gottmann, a nationally-recognized psychologist known for his work with couples, two-thirds of parents reported experiencing a significant drop in their relationship quality after the birth of a child. This is an example of what happens when couples do not communicate about what they expect as parents.
So what can we take from this?
Talk about expectations and the changes that are going to occur in the marriage or relationship after the birth of your child. Know the role changes that are going to take place and how you will cope.
This parenting thing is a long journey. It will have its ups and downs. But taking care of you will go a long way in taking care of those around you.