Becoming a parent is often the most challenging and stressful life transition couples face. Today’s expectations for couples and families are a tall order and the many stresses often take their toll on this most fundamental relationship. Parents must learn how to meet their infant’s needs without ignoring their own, or theirs as a couple. Research shows that during the first years of parenthood, the quality of a couple’s relationship tends to plummet for the vast majority of couples. Marital stress and conflict can affect each partner’s well-being and negatively impact the child’s development. Declines in relationship satisfaction can have negative effects on partners, the child, and the family system. Marital conflict also adversely affects parent–infant attachment, child development, and family interaction patterns. Patterns that are established with the birth of the first child set the stage for long-term family cohesion and communication.
I practice Emotionally Focused Couples therapy developed primarily by Dr. Sue Johnson. Research studies show that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements. Emotionally Focused Couples therapy addresses the fundamental attachment relationship of the couple that has quite likely been disrupted, by the birth of their child. Couples can get caught in cycles of escalating negative interaction that they find difficult to avoid, prevent or stop once it has gotten started. Couples learn to identify their particular negative interaction cycle, take responsibility for their part in the cycle and learn new steps toward a positive cycle of interaction.
Couples learn to take responsibility for their negative interaction cycles and discover ways to turn against it rather than at each other. After acquiring this skill, they report feeling greater harmony and security in their relationship and generally more at ease knowing that they can find safety with their partner instead of the old way of seeking emotional safety from their partner. Couples experience their love growing from the newly found or rediscovered engagement they have. (and their partner will be there for them) when they are in need.