If you’re a parent, you already know what a huge change a baby brings into your life.
Like me, you might find yourself feeling triggered unexpectedly and you can’t get to the bottom of it. You feel things you may not have felt since childhood and it can be difficult to deal with them.
You’ll also find that both you and your partner change individually once you have a baby. You might not even feel like you’re the same person you used to be.
These changes are natural and to be expected, but if you and your partner aren’t prepared for them, it can be a problem for your relationship as well as for the parent-child relationship.
In this week’s episode, I discuss this and a bunch more with Kara Hoppe and Dr. Stan Tatkin. Their new book, Baby Bomb, helps parents maintain their partnership while creating a secure functioning environment for their child.
What Is Secure Functioning?
Secure functioning refers to the relationship balance in a newly formed triad—you, your partner, and your baby. When you experience secure functioning, it allows you to provide a safe and secure relational environment.
When you’re in a secure functioning relationship, you and your partner have a shared vision and are invested for the long term. You’re on the same page in both your relationship and your parenting practice, and you’re a solid team ready to protect each other.
This safe and secure environment is the foundation you build your relationship on—so that not only will your child grow up in a safe place, but your relationship will flourish even after the child is no longer in your care.
When you’re united in your partnership and you create that safe, healthy space for all three of you, you understand that you can accomplish so much more. And if you’re not fully invested, you rob yourself of the security and safety you would otherwise experience.
The Needs of Three
When a baby enters the picture, it’s easy for a parent—especially a mother—to lose herself in taking care of the baby. She can easily find herself too exhausted to attend to her partner’s needs, and her own needs often come last.
Besides, she’s using her body in many ways to care for the baby, which can leave very little for the partnership.
This is where the needs element comes into the partnership.
First, each partner has to be able to communicate their needs clearly. If your partner isn’t aware of your need, how can they help you?
Second, you both have to be vulnerable. You won’t be able to communicate your own needs if you’re not vulnerable with yourself (so you can acknowledge the needs) and your partner (so you can express them).
Once you’ve acknowledged and expressed your needs, it gives your partner the opportunity to help regulate them for you—and vice versa. It’s important to create expectations so that each partner knows where the gaps are and how to fill them.
Behaviors Can Be Learned
The good thing about secure functioning in this scenario is that it can be learned. It doesn’t matter your attachment style or your partner’s—you both can learn the behaviors necessary for a secure functioning relationship.
As in any relationship, with or without a child, it’s vital to learn how to work on problems together. If you’re a part of a team, you will never win if you’re fighting amongst yourselves, right?
But roles can be defined and redefined until you find what works for you. You don’t need to worry about what others are doing or what’s traditionally done.
You can set your goals and expectations together as a couple, distribute tasks and responsibilities the way you both feel is fair and equitable, and relax into the system that works for you.