SafeMotherhood
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YOUR LIFE

A changing relationship with your partner

Becoming a father can make men worry about things such as:

• Will I be able to earn enough money to look after my new family?
• What kind of dad will I be?
• Will I feel left out when the new baby takes all my partner's time and attention?

Issues for new mothers might be:

• Can I count on his support?
• Will I have to look after his needs as well as the baby's?
• What if the baby comes between us?

Initially, babies can push couples apart because they reveal the hidden, or half-hidden, differences in the relationship, and at the same time remove the usual ways of bridging gaps. It helps if you can keep talking and listening to each other.

Good listening means:

• Face your partner, sit close and give them your whole attention.
• Forget yourself.
• Occasionally repeat what your partner says, in your own words, to get it straight in your own mind.
• Ask for clarification if necessary. It doesn't show you weren't listening, it shows you're trying to hear.
• Wait until your partner's finished speaking, then wait a bit more.
• Don't give advice unless asked.

Talking effectively

• Choose a good time.
• Be aware of your feelings. Stick to 'I' phrases, for example: "I feel jealous", rather than: "You always..." or "You never..."
• Be prepared to negotiate.
• Agree to differ. Don't insist on having the last word.

When you become parents, it's hard to hang on to being a couple as well. However, babies don't destroy good relationships and they don't improve poor ones.

You could try some of the following:

• Spend some time each day thinking about your partner as your lover, rather than as your child's father.
• Try cuddling or playing with your baby together, rather than taking turns. Maybe your partner could cuddle you while you feed the baby?
• Make a regular time to be together, away from the chores and the baby. Perhaps friends or family can step in and offer a weekly babysitting slot.

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