5 Healthy Ways To Baby-Proof Your Marriage

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After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (formerly known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) are now preparing to welcome a new baby into their lives. Making the transition from married couple to new parents is one that should not be taken lightly. Just as many relationship experts will tell you (including myself) preparation is the key to a successful long-term relationship and marriage. Beyond the wedding and the honeymoon, the more work you’ve done to prepare for this new position in life, the better. The same holds true for parenthood. It is easy to romanticize becoming a parent. Shopping for baby clothes, decorating the nursery, developing a birthing plan can be incredibly exciting. But no one is ever truly prepared for how bringing a new life into this world makes you feel. The stress and strain of a new baby can wreak havoc on your love life. It may even bring up issues from your own childhood that you have yet to heal from. While the transition from being a family of 2 to 3 can be challenging, here are some tips to get you through:

  1. Discuss your expectations - Whether we realize it or not, we all have expectations of reaching certain milestones in our lives. What parenthood looks and feels like will likely differ tremendously from what you had in mind. And partner’s response to a crying baby may surprise you even more! While it may seem premature, take the time to discuss some of the logistics you’ll need to sort out. How soon will you and your partner go back to work, if applicable? How will middle of the night feedings and diaper changes be divided up? When these scenarios have not been explored prior, your relationship can suffer tremendously.

  2. Rally your support network for help - Many new parents wait until they are in desperate need before considering reaching out for help. The problem is that when you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, you may be even less likely to seek out support. Before your new baby arrives, start the habit of accepting help from others when it is offered. Accepting assistance from others doesn’t always come naturally, but with practice and time it gets much easier.

  3. Find parenthood mentors - Balancing a healthy relationship with your spouse and a little one can be tough, but it is possible. Seek out other couples with children who have gotten through this stage of their marriage with their sanity in tact while continuing to prioritize their relationship. These mentors can give you fresh ideas to help you stay connected with your spouse when time and energy are in limited supply.

  4. Banish ideas of perfection - Trying to live up to ideals you’ve built up in your mind since childhood can definitely take it’s toll on your marriage. Your partner will never be the perfect parent and neither will you. Much of the beauty of parenthood will be experienced in imperfect situations and circumstances. Embrace that this time in your life may be messy and chaotic (and that’s ok!).

  5. Make a plan to prioritize your relationship - It’s not enough to simply state that you don’t want to lose that spark with your spouse. This will not happen magically and may not happen as spontaneously as it once did pre-baby. Whether a friend watches the baby while the two of you enjoy an uninterrupted dinner in another room or you plan a more elaborate date, do your best to commit some time to one another, however small.

Parenthood is a journey that can put a strain on any marriage, but committing to support one another throughout the process will help your relationship and your little one thrive.

Relationship Reset: 5 Tips to Stop Relationship Patterns Dead in Their Tracks

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Feeling as though you are committing the same relationship mistakes again and again can be both overwhelming and frustrating. Check out these tips to get a fresh start.

#1. Are you ready?: Ask yourself if you are willing and ready to endure some discomfort as you charter new territory by approaching your relationships differently. While it may be unsettling at first, the potential for happy and fulfilling relationship possibilities are endless.

#2. Take a closer look: In order to make change, we must examine our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. What are your thoughts about your last relationship? How do those thoughts make you feel? When you experienced those feelings while with your partner, what did you say or do in your relationship? The answers to these questions may lead you to a deeper understanding of how and why you repeat the same relationship patterns time after time.

#3. Remember the family factor: Many of us often try so hard to either replicate or reject the experiences of our parents that we find ourselves getting into trouble as a result. Whether through therapy, prayer or self-reflection, examine what your family taught you about relationships and how these lessons may or may not be serving you well today.

#4. You’re worth it, right?: Examine your own self-image and compare the kinds of relationships you’ve had in the past with the kind of relationship you are seeking. Do you feel in your heart that you deserve to be happy?

#5. Move on: Learn how to move on from past relationships by forgiving your former partner and yourself for past mistakes. Don’t bring your baggage from your last relationship into the next.

Positive Relationship Rituals for Couples

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Relationships are living, breathing organisms that need to be nurtured on a daily basis. Relationship rituals are behaviors that a couple participates in on a regular basis to communicate their thoughts and feelings, verbally or non-verbally. Demonstrating these behaviors is a way of signaling to your partner that you support him or her in a way that no one else can. Long-lasting, healthy relationships are those in which you choose to be with your partner again and again each day and these rituals serve as a reminder of that.

It’s no secret that an “inside joke” can bond people together like nothing else. In times of stress, it is critical that couples maintain their relationship rituals whenever possible to keep them grounded, connected and supported. In 2011, The Communication Quarterly published a research study regarding the necessity of relationship rituals to maintain a satisfying relationship. It concluded that participating in relationship rituals led to the development of a small but very powerful cocoon of two, providing support and the space to share and express intimacy.

My Top 4 Recommended Relationship Rituals

#1. Practice mindfulness together – For a few moments each day, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and join hands in silence. Doing so will keep you grounded, focused and decrease stress. Prayer and/or meditation can also be incorporated is applicable.

#2. Keep it Sexy – While you may not be able (or want to) have sex everyday, why not talk about it? Compliment your partner’s appearance, give them a pinch here and there or let them know how much you are looking forward to your next encounter. Engaging in sexy talk and touch keeps things fresh and let’s your partner know they’ve still got it.

#3. Perfect your “hello” and “goodbye” – Chances are, if you’ve been together for awhile, you already have a special way that you say “hello” and goodbye”. Whatever you do, keep it up! There’s nothing like wishing your partner well as you embark on your day and greeting them when you see them again.

#4. Allow yourself and your partner alone time – This one may be surprising, but giving yourself and your partner the time and space to do things solo or with friends on a regular basis is an essential relationship ritual for most successful relationships. Giving one another both physical and psychological space allows for a deeper emotional connection and a stronger appreciation for one another.