Coping with Post-baby Relationship Stress

baby

Coping with Post-baby Relationship Stress

Once you have a child everything changes. It can be hard to navigate these uncharted waters. One thing that will never be the same is your relationship. It can try even the strongest relationships. It’s difficult for lots of couples to cope with post-baby relationship stress. Roles change drastically at this time as both parties become parents. Tighter finances can also put great strain on a relationship. Having to cut back on free time and even lack of sleep can exacerbate relationship issues. Instead of focusing on one another their focus is on the new infant.

It turns out that today couples who have just had their first child are turning to couple’s counseling in record numbers. Of course this has always been a stressful part of life for couples. But today people are more aware and comfortable to seek out a counselor. People respond to this new lifestyle situation in different ways. New mothers are often overwhelmed. They worry about the aftereffects on their body, if their husband will find them attractive again, if they are a good mother, the effect this will have on their career among other things. Postpartum depression may play a role in relationship issues as well.

New fathers can feel cut off and left out of the entire process. They can even feel that they are competing with the infant for the mother’s attention. A man at this time might be withdrawn. He can suffer from depression. He may wish to do things differently causing fights with his partner. It isn’t easy for either party though of course this time is far more confusing and difficult for the mother. One way to deal with things is to find a little time each week, get a sitter and reconnect. Spending time with one another is a great way to help rebuild your bond outside of being parents. Sometimes you want to just sit and talk without any interruptions and be adults again, and lovers again.

There are lots of reasons why a woman may not want to or be able to have sexual relations. This can make a man feel rejected both emotionally and physically. Find ways to be physically and emotionally intimate, at least a little here and there to show how you love and care for one another. In terms of sex, if one partner is in need, perhaps find other ways to satisfy that craving if the physical act is unwanted or not medically advisable at this time. If one or another is suffering from depression seek help from a physician or a mental health professional. For more on this topic pick up a copy of, After the Baby: Making Sense of Marriage after Childbirth by Rhonda Nordin.

What Makes a Man Happy?

happy

What Makes a Man Happy?

It’s oftentimes difficult to make a woman happy. But good guys never stop trying. For men though it’s usually thought to be simple; sex and mild appreciation. If a woman is nuanced she knows that she needs to massage his ego here and there. Even men get insecure from time to time. She has to support him emotionally as well. But is that it? What does it really take to make a man happy? Researchers at Harvard University have just finished the longest study, starting in 1938, on human development ever to answer just that same question.

Researchers looked at biological, anthropological and psychological traits to determine what makes men happy over the course of a lifetime. Researchers uncovered every rock from drinking habits, relationships, IQ, even the “hanging length of the scrotum.” The researchers were exhaustive in their pursuit. The study followed 200 undergraduates from Harvard starting in 1938.  Since people are living much longer around the world, researchers found that fulfillment can reach even into the golden years of life. Participants reported on all parts of a man’s life including politics, religion, coping strategies, relationships and alcohol use. Alcohol abuse the study found was the single biggest determinant in happiness disruption in terms of health and overall happiness.

Another interesting finding was that those who do well in their elder years don’t exactly do well in middle age. Getting over a terrible childhood is possible. However remembering a joyous childhood can give you resiliency throughout life. After age 70 marriage brings more satisfaction to life. Aging after 80 years has more to do with habits formed up to age 50 than with genes.  In fact we have more to do with how we end up in our golden years than our genetic background. The biggest finding was how destructive alcoholism was. It was the biggest contributor to divorce. Cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse were the topmost causes of death according to this study.

In terms of sex life, the most liberal men had sex well into their 80s, while the most conservative stopped having sex somewhere around 68 years of age. One giant correlation that arrived from this study was the connection between happiness and health in later years to the love and support a good relationship provides. Those men who measured warmth in their relationships were far more successful and earned more in life. It was the single most contributing factor. Another interesting finding was how a man’s relationship with his mom affected him later on in life. Men who had a good relationship with their mothers when young earned substantially more. Those who had poor relationships with their mothers were more likely to suffer dementia later on in life. To read more about this study read the book, Triumphs of Experience by the study’s lead author George Vaillant.

Couples who have a Daughter first More Likely to Divorce

Portrait of upset child with parent's fighting

Couples who have a Daughter first More Likely to Divorce

Do you have a first born daughter in your family? Believe it or not, you will be more likely to divorce. Researchers have surprisingly known this for a while now. Families with first born sons are less likely. Up until a new study reveals another reason, economists and sociologists had a theory as to why: fathers relate to son’s better than daughters and so were more likely to try and work things out with the mother. This theory had lots of opponents however. A new study says that how different genders develop in the womb gives clues on why couples who have a daughter first are more likely to divorce. An economics professor at Duke Amar Hamoudi teamed up with an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Assistant Professor Jenna Nobles for this study. They found that female embryos are much more rugged in the womb and can handle in utero stress far better than male embryos. If the mother is experiencing relationship troubles at this time, the female fetus has a higher likelihood of survival. This too isn’t anything new. In fact, women outlive men at every stage in life from infant mortality to old age. But what these two researchers have found is that the edge females have may start at fertilization.

Hamoudi was first interested in this research with an inkling that female survival advantage might possibly predate birth. The economics professor told the Huffington Post, “What I wondered was: Why are we starting the story at 40 weeks after fertilization?  Why don’t we start at fertilization? Then it’s a much more complicated story.” So the researchers went to find the link between pregnancy stress, outcomes and divorce to see if their theory had legs. Stress hormones do negatively affect pregnancy, studies have shown. Other studies have shown a woman’s well-being, self-reported, correlated with her ability to carry a child to term. These professors wanted to see then if female embryos had a better survival rate than male ones. The pair of professors utilized data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth. The researchers found that couples who frequently argued had a higher chance of having a daughter as their first born child rather than a son. Utilizing the data, they then erected a predictive model to find out the probability of a couple to divorce whilst after having their first child, a girl. Nobles and Hamoudi discovered that stress-related events during the pregnancy connected the dots between daughters and divorce.

Hamoudi said, “We didn’t prove that girls don’t cause divorce. What we proved was that it would be hasty to look at the daughter-to-divorce association and say, ‘Aha, girls must cause divorce,’ because we now have another explanation for why that association might exist.” If researchers touch this topic henceforth you can bet that they’ll look to the time of fertilization when conducting research, not birth. If you are divorcing and you have children, take heart in a UK study that found that single and step-parent homes were just as happy as dual parent one’s for children. Help your children transition. Be there for them. Ask them how they feel. Listen to their concerns. Let them know why, though don’t place any particular blame. Make sure the explanation fits their age. Always have the door open. Be sure to make sure they feel loved. Encourage them to have a relationship with your ex. Try to put aside differences, at least as far as the children are concerned, in order to co-parent effectively. Establish the same ground rules and punishments in each house. Don’t say anything negative about your ex in front of the children. Also, make sure not to use your child as a confidante. They look up to you for strength. If you want to vent, do it with your friends or family when the children aren’t around. What’s more, make sure that they aren’t used as a weapon or get caught in the middle. Do what feels right and your children will be fine. For more on helping kids in this difficult time read, Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive through Divorce by JoAnne Pedro-Carroll.

Does your Girl have a Mean Streak?

MEAN-WOMAN

Does your Girl have a Mean Streak?

She may be kind to you, but do you get the feeling she’s putting on her best face? Do you feel that she has a darker side, existing underneath this façade? Colorado marriage and sex therapist Lisa Thomas explains it like this, “Sometimes in relationships, even long-term ones, women want their significant other to only see them in the best light.” Does your girl have a mean streak? If she does you need to be able to recognize the signs and put the kibosh on them before they begin to ruin the relationship. The first thing to notice is her social situation. Does she have many friends? If she doesn’t have many friends, or none at all your Spidey sense should be tingling. Psychologist Stephen C. Phillips says that “If all of her relationships have soured or there are few left, she may have a side to her you’re not seeing.” Kindness is infectious. Kind people then are often surrounded by friends. But if she has few if any, beware. She may be sweet now, but once she’s comfortable enough to let her hair down, she could become a totally different person.  “Difficulty with intimate friendships does not bode well for an even-more-intimate relationship,” says Phillips. Ask her what happened to her friends. See if you can settle what differences they were having or help her to apologize. You don’t want to be her everything either, even if she is sweet. Every relationship needs a little breathing room.

Is your girl too hard on herself? This could spell trouble in your relationship. People who have impossible standards for themselves often project those standards on friends, family and others around them. Of this Phillips states, “People who are happy with themselves tend to be more generous in their estimation of others, while those who are unhappy with themselves may go out of their way to make others feel equally unhappy.” Have a sit down talk with her. Tell her she needs to give herself a break. Let her know that it hurts you when she’s so hard on herself, since you think that she’s amazing. Your words and the fact that you pulled her aside to say them to her may make all the difference. When you two go out, how does she treat the waiter, the barista or the bartender? If she’s generous, sweet and polite you are in safe territory. But if she treats people in the service industry poorly she may be stingy with her love and other positive emotions. Keep track of concrete things that she does that you think are rude. Then talk to her about them. She’ll change her behavior if she’s worth your time. Does your girl have a short fuse? If she goes off on people, have a talk with her and see what’s bothering her. She may just have anger issues. But something might be going on. Lastly, red flags should go up if she doesn’t get along with your mother. If your mom doesn’t like her, she may be seeing something you don’t.  Sit down with your girl and talk it out. See why she feels this way and how your mom feels alone in a separate conversation, then see what the best way to move forward is. To learn more about why some women have a mean streak, read Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees by Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D.

The Difference between a Single Father and a Divorced Dad

SINGLE-DADS

The Difference between a Single Father and a Divorced Dad

There are lots of single moms and dads out there nowadays looking for love. It’s about finding someone who they have chemistry with, have fun with and who fits their own wants, needs and desires in a mate, in addition they have to like, interact well with and be a good role model for the children. This is particularly true for single moms. But many women, although finding men they like, feel there is a difference between a single father and a divorced dad. In this view a single father is one who has custody of the children and takes care of them full-time. These women thus believe that a single father understands what they go through and so can relate to and blend into their lifestyle much better than a divorced dad. A divorced dad on the other hand gets the children every other weekend and perhaps one day during the week. In this, they have all kinds of free time and don’t have to act like a responsible parent at this time. So women assume that he may be irresponsible and in fact a bad influence on the children. Furthermore, since he doesn’t have this as a full-time responsibility he may not understand nor be able to commit to the rigorous lifestyle she is accompanied with.

The trouble is many men are offended by this compartmentalization. Many don’t get a choice in what form of custody they are assigned. They also wonder, does not having your children full-time really make you less of a father? According to the U.S. Census 6.1% of fathers had full-time custody of their children in 1993, but that number jumped to 18.3% in 2011. So why are women generally given custody of the children? Basically because it’s our tradition. According to Attorneys.com, “Traditionally, men worked and women stayed home to raise children. Although that is less frequently the case these days, there is still a bias toward women in child custody cases. From a biological perspective, we are more inclined to think of the mother-child relationship than the father-child relationship. Many people make the automatic assumption that women are more nurturing as parents than men.” But today with female employment up to 47% and the increase of stay-at-home dads, it’s clear that men can be nurturing parents as well. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post author Doug Zeigler writes of what his attorney told him when he asked about getting custody, “Well, in this country, you’re not going to get custody. It just doesn’t happen unless the woman is a drug addict, a danger to your kids or a mental patient. You’ll be in the minority if you get more than every other weekend with your sons. My advice would be to do all you can to keep her happy, so that she’ll be easier to deal with when it comes to custody.” But that’s easier said than done during a divorce. Men shouldn’t be stereotyped by women like this, especially from the dating pool of single moms, and particularly when the system is geared for dads to end up this way. If you’re considering dating a divorced father, read Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide if He’s Right for You by Christie Hartman.