What To Expect Even When You’re Not Expecting

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It appears that almost everything in life comes with some sort of How-To guide. Whether it’s How to Ace a Job Interview or How to Assemble Your Ikea Furniture, there always seems to be someone who has prepared a step-by-step process to get you through any challenge that comes your way. One of the most life changing experiences someone can go through simultaneously appears to have both no guide and all the unsolicited advice you could ever ask for. I’m of course referring to the wonderful and terrifying experience becoming a parent.

While there are hundreds of books dedicated to parenting any kind of child you could imagine, there is one particular part of the experience that gets a lot less attention: the transition from being a couple into being parents. How do you successfully prepare for children with your partner? Here are some areas couple should focus on as they begin to prepare for or consider having children.

If, when, and how many?

The first decision facing a couple is whether or not to have children. Becoming a parent ... Read more »

Why Ya Gotta Be So Rude?

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There’s a popular song you might know called “Rude.”  The song is sung by a young man who wants to marry his girlfriend who asks her father for permission.  When he’s denied, however, he calls the father rude and says he’s going to marry the daughter anyway.  In the song, the couple is going to get married with or without the approval of her father.  But is elopement really the best solution for them?


A recent study by H. Colleen Sinclair at Mississippi State University provides an answer for the couple in the song.


Should she disregard her father?  

Based on Sinclair’s research, probably not.  She found that the more our friends and family approve of our relationships the more likely we are to experience love, commitment, and trust in them.  So, disregarding the father’s lack of approval and eloping might lead to a rocky relationship.   


Should they immediately break up the relationship?

Just because the girl listens to her father doesn’t mean she needs to immediately end the relationship with the man she loves.   Sinclair suggests that when friends and family ... Read more »

Tell Me About Your Mother…

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We all kind of make fun of Freud’s old adage that every problem in our life comes from the relationship we had with our mother, but it wouldn’t be so funny if there wasn’t at least a little bit of truth to the idea.  In our RELATE Assessment, we have an entire section dedicated to how each partner in a marriage feels about their family-of-origin (the family they grew up in) and how this might impact their current relationship.  When I took the assessment a few years ago myself, I remember feeling skeptical that so much emphasis really needed to be placed on issues in my family in the past.  But now, 3 years later, after working with clients and doing the research, I’ve been fully converted to understanding and exploring our past as it impacts our current relationships now.


Please don’t just take my word for it though, as many studies have repeatedly shown the correlation with our families-of-origin and our current marital satisfaction.  One recent study, in particular, explored the effect of parental divorce and parental conflict on current ... Read more »

Are Your Marital Problems Hurting Your Kids?

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Marital Fight

There’s a popular Carrie Underwood song out right now, “Little Toy Guns”, that talks about a little girl hiding in her closet listening to her parents yelling and praying, “I wish words were like little toy guns, No sting, no hurt no one, Just a bang bang rollin’ off your tongue…” and so on.  We love the lyrics because they take an honest look at how marital discord can really impact our kids emotionally.


**Disclaimer** We don’t want to shame any parents who feel like they fit in this category–we’re all human and we all make mistakes–we just want to bring these dynamics to your attention so you can do something about them while you still have a chance.  (a.k.a. Before your kids leave the house)


Research has been clear in the recent years that disagreements in a marriage have the potential to actually help kids emotionally in the long run, but more often than not end up damaging kids because they’re handled poorly.  The instability and fear children feel when they hear parents yelling or storming out on one another ... Read more »

What to Expect When You’re Expecting!

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Maybe you’ve heard that your marriage will take a hit when you and your partner become parents. A lot of research has found that becoming a parent does initially cause a drop in relationship satisfaction, but a recent study found that some couples’ satisfaction levels only dropped a little bit while others’ took a nose dive. So here’s a few things to know about what your relationship can expect when you’re expecting…


1. Everybody’s relationship satisfaction dips a little at first.


All of the couples in the study experienced a decline in marital satisfaction when they had their first child, so if you find yourself initially feeling a slight lull in your relationship, this is completely normal. Having a baby creates added demands on time, energy, and resources (like sleep). That’s a lot of new stress and exhaustion you’re experiencing, so expect that it will take a little time for you and your partner to adjust and find your groove again.

2.  New fathers are considerably more likely to show a steep decline in their relationship satisfaction than mothers.

This may be due ... Read more »