Becoming a new mom is a beautiful and transformative experience, and we know it comes with significant changes and challenges. One of these areas of change is in our relationship. 67% of new couples have a decline in their relationship in the postpartum period. As you navigate the joys and responsibilities of parenthood, nurturing your relationship and fostering open, supportive communication becomes crucial. In this blog post, we will explore valuable insights from the Gottman Method, an evidenced-based treatment, to help you strengthen your connection and create a solid foundation for communication with your partner.
5 Ways to Communicate Effectively After a Baby
It may take you by surprise that most of these tips are not about navigating conflict. They are about nurturing the relationship, staying connected and regulating your own emotions. This is the only true way you will be able to communicate openly and honestly. We need to feel connected, not judged and safe in order to communicate through conflict effetely in your relationship in this postpartum period.
Prioritize Emotional Attunement
One of the key pillars of the Gottman Method is emotional attunement. As a new mom, it's important to be aware of your own emotions, we all know we have a bunch in this postpartum period. It is also important to be aware of your partner emotions. Acknowledge and validate you own emotions and each other's feelings, even if you may have different experiences or perspectives. Set aside dedicated time to connect emotionally, sharing your joys, concerns, and challenges. Remember, understanding and empathizing with each other's emotions can lay the groundwork for effective communication. You do not have to go on date nights or carve out time you do not have when having a baby. Dedicating time to connect might mean that you attempt to eat dinner together, share a cup of tea and talk after you get the baby down, review your day with each other.
Create Rituals of Connection
Integrating rituals of connection into your daily lives can help maintain a strong bond with your partner. Find simple ways to connect even in the busyness of parenting. These rituals can be small, but can be powerful. Making coffee and drinking a cup together before parting ways for the day, have a dedicated "check-in" time each day, give each other a 3 minute massage at the end of the day. These rituals foster an environment of safety and openness, allowing both partners to express their needs, concerns, and joys.
Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a fundamental aspect of effective communication. Be fully present when your partner is speaking, giving them your undivided attention. Show genuine interest and understanding by nodding, maintaining eye contact, and offering verbal affirmations. Paraphrase and reflect back what your partner has said to ensure you have understood their message correctly. Active listening demonstrates respect, empathy, and a willingness to engage in meaningful conversation. When you are in a conflict, you do not agree with what your partner is saying or you have children at your feet, active listening can be a challenge. Remember to listen to hear, not listen to answer, and to seek to understand first before anything else.
Use "I" Statements and Express Needs
When communicating with your partner, use "I" statements to express your thoughts and feelings rather than resorting to blame or criticism. If we are talking about our emotions and our experienced, it will allow our partner to feel less attacked. For example, instead of saying, "You never help with the baby," say, "I feel overwhelmed when it's been a hard day with the baby. I need some support with her/him." This approach allows you to take ownership of your emotions while conveying your needs in a non-confrontational way so that you are more likely to be heard. The structure of an I statement is "I feel... when.... I need..." Make sure that you say an emotion after I feel, rather than "I feel like..." and then following with a thought.
Practice Conflict Resolution Techniques
Conflict exists even in the most perfect relationship. The key to having a healthy relationship is how you approach conflict. The Gottman Method offers techniques to navigate conflicts constructively:
a. Use a gentle start up: Start the conversation about a conflict off with a non-critical statement to help guide the tone of the conversation. A great gentle start up is the "I" statements.
b. Take a break: If emotions are running high during an argument, agree to take a short break to calm down before continuing the conversation. This break should be no shorter than 20 minutes and is best taken in a separate space as your partner. Do an activity that is distracting so you are not stewing in the argument.
c. Practice compromise: Seek solutions that meet both partners' needs by finding common ground and exploring win-win outcomes. Have your flexible and inflexible areas and make sure the compromise allows for each partners inflexible areas to stay.
d. Repair and de-escalate: Apologize when needed, show appreciation for your partner's perspective, and use humor to diffuse tension.
As a new mom in the postpartum period, nurturing communication with your partner is essential for maintaining a strong and healthy relationship, reducing stress and feeling supported. By using these 5 tools from the Gottman Method: prioritizing emotional attunement, creating rituals of connection, practicing active listening, using "I" statements, and employing conflict resolution techniques, you can foster open and supportive communication. Remember, healthy communication not only strengthens your relationship but also sets a positive example for your growing family. Embrace the opportunity to grow together, overcome challenges, and celebrate the joys of parenthood as a team.
Hi, I’m Kristina Anzell, I am a Clinical Social Worker dedicated to providing specialized and compassionate mental health support for moms postpartum. My mission is to empower you to thrive in your role as a mother while nurturing your own well-being. If you enjoyed this blog post, check out my blog here! If you want more information or are seeking treatment, feel free to reach out!