Forget who paid for dinner last and what time you’re leaving that party. Parenthood brings with it a host of new relationship bickering points. Here’s how to work through any issues…
One of you getting too drunk. What to see at the cinema. Who took the bins out last. What we’re trying to say is, there are plenty of things you may have argued or bickered about pre-baby.
And, if you’re like us, chances are parenthood has brought a whole host of new topics that never bothered you before. Suddenly, you’re wound up over who got up in the night, someone being late for the nursery run, the mess made at feed time – and puree still splattered on the wall.
But, never fear – there are ways to deal with these trigger topics that’ll save your sanity – and your relationship.
Put it into perspective
Ask yourself, will what’s happened matter in five minutes? Five hours? Five days? Nothing’s going to be perfect all the time (and who wants it to be, really) so try to have a laugh about him putting the nappy on backwards.
Nothing says love like a bit of teasing, right?
Don’t go into blame mode
Want to tell him you wish he’d get up in the night more? Steer clear of accusatory language and go with “I felt XYZ when this happened” rather than “You made me feel…” or “You did…” – after all, you’re the one who’s annoyed so take responsibility for what you’re feeling.
‘This helps you both avoid becoming defensive so you can work towards a solution,’ says Christine Northam, counsellor for relationship charity Relate.
Don’t let things fester
Gone are the days when you wound each other up and did the silent treatment for the whole weekend. ‘Pushing issues aside can create a hostile atmosphere, which even the youngest child can pick up on,’ says Christine.
‘Prioritise what really bothers you and what you can let go, but try not to leave big problems unspoken about.’
Be honest with yourself
If you know you don’t deal with disagreements well, address this with your partner before your baby arrives. ‘Talk about how you can work through things more effectively and in a calmer way around your child,’ says Christine.
The bigger problems
When it comes to the big issues – perhaps he’d rather your baby go to nursery while you want a nanny – try writing down pros and cons for each so you can work through it. ‘This lets you both have a balanced input and gives some order to the discussion,’ says Christine.
If you’re still miles apart or really struggling to work through things in a calm way, consider booking a session with a relationship therapist.