We talk a lot about how challenging parenting can be, and it is! Raising actual humans is a full-time job and there’s really no part of life that isn’t impacted by it. Becoming a parent changes, well, everything—and that can include your relationship with your partner. It’s absolutely normal, and many couples go through a period of adjustment as they figure out how they work in this new dynamic.
This growth period can be uncomfortable, as you navigate this whole new spate of issues and friction points, like sex and intimacy after baby, in-laws, parenting styles, and equitable division of household labor. These things don’t just magically work themselves out—they can require some serious convos, which if not handled the right way, can start to eat away at the foundation of your relationship. Before it gets to that point, make sure you’re regularly checking in and talking with your partner about sensitive topics. It’s not always easy, but these tips on how to approach an uncomfortable conversation can help.
Right place, right time
Is there anything more frustrating than trying to have a serious conversation with someone who is distracted or not fully engaged? Or being bombarded with a heavy topic when you’re already overwhelmed/tired/being pulled in a million different directions? It’s nearly impossible to have meaningful, respectful, and productive conversation when one (or both) people are not able to give it their full attention. So finding the right time, where you can both sit down and focus on the issue at hand, is key. And obviously, the convo should happen somewhere you’re both comfortable, and not like…a booth in a public restaurant.
Have a plan
You want to avoid this conversation turning into a dumping ground where you both air all your grievances and bring up everything under the sun that’s been bothering you. Because unless you plan on sitting there for 12 hours to hash it all out, nothing is going to be properly addressed or resolved and you’ll both likely walk away from it feeling not great things about yourselves or each other. So stick to one topic, and have a plan in place for keeping the convo on track. I highly recommend coming to the table with notes—both of you! It’s important that you’re both prepared and able to say what you need to say. No one should walk away from this feeling like they didn’t get their points or ideas across.
No one likes to be talked at—a productive and healthy conversation requires active participation AND active listening! Maybe you initiated the conversation, or maybe it was your partner. Regardless of who got the ball rolling and what the topic of conversation is, listen to what your partner is saying. Don’t just hear it—actually listen. You may not like what they have to say, and vice versa. But you both deserve to be heard and respected, and you both deserve to have your feelings validated. Also, resist the urge to butt in and interject while your partner is speaking, and ask that your partner extend the same courtesy to you. Whatever needs to be said can be said once the floor is open.
I know you want to have one hard convo, solve all of your problems in that time and just be done with it. That is how most of us would like to live life, babes. Unfortunately that’s not really how any of this works! When you’re dealing with heavy stuff, you’re not always going to walk away with everything wrapped up nice and neat in a pretty bow. Sensitive topics take time to work through, and when it comes to your relationship, you shouldn’t cut corners. Go into the conversation with the goal of getting a healthy dialogue going and the understanding that you may not resolve everything (or anything!) this time. It doesn’t mean the issue is dead in the water; it just means that you’re both taking the time and care to make sure you’re approaching it in the healthiest, most impactful way possible.
You already know we’re big fans of therapy here, so if you don’t feel equipped to handle these convos alone, seek out a professional who can guide the process. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.
So much of your life is given over to parenting once you have kids. And that’s understandable! But it’s so important to keep the big picture in mind, and put time and effort into making sure you and your partner’s needs and feelings are a priority. There’ll be bumps on the road, no doubt. But being prepared to handle those and move beyond them is only going to make your relationship stronger.