By Guest Blogger Dan Wilemon, M.Ed., LPC with Novant Health Behavioral Health

The arrival of a new baby brings the thrill of a new life – and, sometimes, anxiety over the changes to parents’ lives as well.

A baby’s arrival means changes to parents’ moods and energy, as well as changes to a couple’s independence, finances and freedom. As parents, you are now teachers. You will be modeling appropriate behavior, coping skills in dealing with stress, how to handle anger and how to successfully communicate with a partner and family member.

But perhaps the biggest change a new child brings is to a couple’s own relationship.

You will need to think of your relationship differently. There are ways to avoid making common mistakes as you adjust to being “a couple with children.” As a relationship counselor, I really try to communicate this to couples.

The first mistake is to assume you are the only one who knows what to do, or how to care for your child. Being overprotective may send the wrong message to your mate that he or she cannot care for your child the way you can. This may discourage your partner from seeing the child’s care as something you share together, or may contribute to their lack of confidence.

The second mistake is the failure to nourish the relationship that helped to bring this child in to the world to begin with. Make sure you are thinking in a healthy way toward your child. Children aren’t your property; they’re part of you and the relationship you and your partner have. Your child represents your love for one another and commitment to each other. Displaying this love openly in front of your child gives your child emotional security and an emotional foundation.

Think in a healthy way, but different way, now that you are a couple. This means you may have to give up wrong notions of what is romantic. A common one is “love and sex have to be spontaneous.” Instead, realize that time together and lovemaking that is planned can be just as rewarding as spur-of-the-moment intimacy.

You will find that having one night a week set aside for yourselves can be richly rewarding. Protecting this commitment will teach and send a strong message to your children that you take your relationship seriously and will set a healthy boundary for your child or children.

A few tips:

  • Be creative. Make it a romantic game together to come up with ways to be intimate “between naps” or in the middle of the night (unless you would rather sleep!).
  • Tease each other and flirt until you can be alone together.
  • Make the most of nights when you have a sitter. Be romantic (but not graphic!) with each other in front of your child. When they’re older, they’ll turn red or complain – but secretly they will be very, very glad their parents are close and love each other. Learn to enjoy parenting together.

For single parents, having a positive relationship with your child’s father or mother makes all the difference in the world to that child. Never criticize the other parent openly in front of your child. Encourage positive communication no matter what kind of family you are in.

A positive attitude is something only you can pursue, and all of us must make a daily decision about how we are going to approach each day. Decide today that you will celebrate this new life and the many wonderful ways to enjoy your child together.

Join Novant Health for their FREE upcoming event:

Rekindling the Romance
Your little bundle of joy has arrived, and with that comes the challenge of renewing your relationship with your spouse or partner. You can overcome challenges and discover ways to rekindle the romance.  Join us in conversations about changing roles, shifting hormones, sleeplessness, communication and sex. Make this a date night, complete with dinner! You’ll leave with tips on rediscovering what brought you together.
Sept. 17, 2015 – 6 p.m.
Novant Health Conference Center
Located on the campus of Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center
3333 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem
Registration is required for this free event. Please call 336-718-7000.

 * Sponsored by Novant Health