Are you wondering what the transition will look like as you look to expand from a couple of two, to growing your family? For parents to be or those who are thinking of trying for a baby – there is a wealth of information out there. Let’s start with the basics – your relationship is and will always be the most important part of your growing family! So it’s best to keep this the focus as you transition into a new chapter (or are thinking of doing so over the next few years).
Living life as a couple can feel like an exciting, round-the-clock adventure. There’s a certain level of spontaneity and freedom, which means you can take sporadic vacations, enjoy a relaxed brunch on a Saturday afternoon, or simply spend the entire weekend at home with no responsibilities on your plate.
Making decisions is easy between the two of you – there aren’t any other people to add to the equation or needs to consider. You can move at the pace you prefer and have more time and energy to spend nurturing your relationship and enjoying the moment.
But once you decide to transition from a couple to a family, life requires some reworking and redefining. You might lose a bit of that spontaneity, have to shift expectations, and adopt new roles, but it can be an exciting journey full of growth, love, and shared experiences.
Let’s explore how you can navigate these life changes and make the transition without losing your bond as a couple. We’ll discuss what the shift might look like and go over some strategies relating to setting expectations, sharing responsibilities, and bridging your old and new lives!
Shifting from couple to family
As we’ve mentioned, making the shift from being a couple to being a family brings new roles, routines, and dynamics. It’s a shift that brings about a variety of emotions – potentially confusion, stress, anticipation, and enthusiasm, to name a few. The process isn’t always easy and requires plenty of patience and communication.
You might have to skip out on that dinner date because you can’t find a babysitter or prioritize watching a school performance over a movie night on the couch. However, expanding your family often means enhancing your sense of purpose and meaning in life.
According to the Gottman Institute, 67% of couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction in the first 3 years of the baby’s life. To avoid this decline, being prepared for these changes is what will set you up for a more successful transition.
Setting realistic expectations
Having a practical idea of what parenthood will be like for you two as a couple is important if you want to alleviate some of the stress that comes with being a new parent. Just like in other aspects of life, having experiences that don’t match our expectations can be disappointing. But when it comes to being a parent, there’s the potential to have unrealistic expectations of both your partner and parenthood at the same time.
Facing the reality that there will be less time for sleep, relaxation, fun, and each other will help reduce any surprises during the transition. It’s crucial to discuss core issues like parenting styles, expectations for physical intimacy, and finances so you can prevent conflict later on.
And it’s not just having these all-important discussions as a couple; it’s acting on them too. Parenthood introduces a whole new set of responsibilities, from changing diapers to making sure your child is emotionally cared for, and these are on top of individual responsibilities, like work and taking care of your mental health. Sharing these duties can benefit the family in more ways than one.
While 64% of married adults (the highest percentage) in a Pew Research study said that having shared interests is key to a successful marriage, coming in third with 56% was sharing household chores. There are many benefits to sharing all sorts of responsibilities equally, particularly when it comes to mental health for parents and children. When parenting and caregiving tasks are divided equally, we see less child behavior and emotional issues in certain age groups.
When you’re considering how to divvy up responsibilities, always remember that responsibility isn’t just about concrete tasks like packing lunches and doing the dishes – it also includes anything that requires mental capacity. So instead of just assigning each other tasks, have a full discussion on what your preferences and what constitutes a chore, and to work as a team!
Keeping the spark alive
Before you were parents, you were a couple. While you might be fully adopting your roles as parents, you won’t want to forget to keep the fire going in your relationship. Even amidst all the chaos of running a new household, parents need to carve out time for each other and make the effort. The romance factor doesn’t even necessarily need to be a grand gesture (unless you two prefer it) – research shows that simple acts of kindness and altruism can truly boost marital satisfaction.
So, while you may not have the time or funds for spontaneous trips to Paris or Prague, taking the time out of your day to leave a love note can strengthen your bond. Despite being parents, affection and romance play an important role in your own lives as a couple and can model a loving relationship for your child.
Bridging your old and new lives
Choosing to start a family doesn’t mean discarding your past life as a duo. It’s about finding balance in your identities as me, we, and parents. As discussed, making time for date night, fun activities, and quality time is key, but it can be beneficial to also involve your child in things you’re passionate about. Shared family experiences and bonds are big contributors to a child’s social and emotional development and overall well-being.
When you go rock climbing, share a meal together, or simply foster togetherness, you demonstrate the value of family and provide an opportunity for everyone to create stronger bonds.
Make the Transition with Cupla
Even as you adopt new roles and make changes in your daily lives, the reasons why you and your partner became a couple will continue to thrive in many ways. As you continue to develop your unique family story, Cupla might just be the best way to keep your relationship strong and exciting.
Cupla is a relationship management app for couples that can help you organize tasks and chores and, more importantly, reconnect with your partner and preserve ‘us’ time. With the couple being the nucleus of a thriving family, why not maintain that bond during and after your transition? Start your free trial with Cupla today!