Is your relationship baby-proof?

Talking points for expecting parents to alleviate stress before baby arrives.

Prenatal classes prepare you for birthing and caring for your newborn, but what about nurturing your relationship with your partner?

"Infidelity and separation rates are extremely high during the years that couples have young children," says Jennifer Powter, a professional coach in Calgary who created a one-day relationship workshop for first-time expectant couples. "It can be avoided as long as couples prepare themselves and communicate effectively," she says.

What to do
Talk about what's going to change as you transition from "couple" to "family" (finances, intimacy, division of chores) and ways you can support each other. Ask each other:

• What are you most excited about?
• What are you most afraid of?
• What expectations do you have of me (and of yourself) as a parent?
• What are the "trigger points" for conflict in our relationship, and how do we deal with them?

If you can't find a workshop in your area, talk to a counsellor, pick up a self-help book, or ask other parents about what to expect and how they have coped, says Doris Grieve, a counsellor in Penticton, B.C. Even if your relationship is healthy, just making yourselves aware of the stresses you may face as new parents can help alleviate any strain in the first few months.

This story was originally titled "Readying Your Relationship for a First Baby" in the October 2009 issue.

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