What to do if your part­ner isn’t PULLING THEIR WEIGHT

Mum-of-two and so­cial com­men­ta­tor An­gela Mol­lard guides you through the thrills and spills of par­ent­hood

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Tran­si­tion­ing from be­ing a cou­ple to a fam­ily can be dif­fi­cult. While we spend hours at an­te­na­tal classes learn­ing how to de­liver a baby, cou­ples rarely re­ceive guid­ance on the chal­lenges that come with their new ad­di­tion. Yet psy­chother­a­pist Ginny Lind­say, who runs the coun­selling ser­vice From 2 to 3, be­lieves plenty can be done to en­sure cou­ples are bet­ter pre­pared. Here she talks us through how to fu­ture-proof your re­la­tion­ship af­ter a baby.

Should cou­ples seek help be­fore they have a baby? It’s vi­tal cou­ples con­sider the im­pact the baby will have on their re­la­tion­ship. Their world up un­til this point has all been about the two of them and now with all the at­ten­tion go­ing to the baby the dan­ger is that their re­la­tion­ship will miss out and suf­fer. Cou­ples who give time be­fore the birth to con­sider the im­pact their baby will have on their re­la­tion­ship tend to be far more united and re­silient to the fu­ture chal­lenges. What are the main prob­lems you see af­ter a baby ar­rives? Lack of sleep and re­sul­tant ten­sion be­tween the cou­ple as they are more re­ac­tive. Fi­nan­cial prob­lems are also com­mon as the house­hold goes from two in­comes to one. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion can break down as cou­ples clash over their ex­pec­ta­tions and han­dling house­hold chores. For women, there is of­ten a change of iden­tity and a feel­ing of lone­li­ness and be­ing ‘stuck’ at home with the baby. What can you do if you don’t think your part­ner is pulling their weight? First, step back and as­sess how you be­lieve your part­ner isn’t pulling their weight. It’s quite nat­u­ral to be on dif­fer­ent wave­lengths dur­ing the par­ent­ing jour­ney. The key is to talk about it calmly, come from a place of love and try to find some com­mon ground.

Dis­cuss ex­pec­ta­tions. Fi­nally, con­sider your own be­hav­iour and state of mind. Are you send­ing neg­a­tive or con­fus­ing sig­nals, crit­i­cis­ing your part­ner and tak­ing over? What are some tips for good com­mu­ni­ca­tion? Try to talk from the ‘I’ rather than the ‘You’. When we talk from the ‘I’ we are talk­ing about our own ex­pe­ri­ence and how we see the sit­u­a­tion. Thus your point of view is ob­jec­tive, ir­refutable and non judge­men­tal. If you talk from the ‘You’ this is sub­jec­tive and could lead to your part­ner be­com­ing de­fen­sive. Show grat­i­tude. What can you do if your part­ner is not open to dis­cussing the chal­lenges and shared roles? You do not have to do this alone. If your part­ner is not open to dis­cussing the chal­lenges nor will­ing to at­tend a ses­sion with you, then come by your­self.

Psy­chother­a­pist Ginny Lind­say.

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