Jennifer Johnson-Jones, Ph.D.
Closeness after becoming parents
How do we maintain our closeness after becoming parents? One of the biggest identity shifts that occurs with new parents is going from thinking of themselves husband and wife to mom and dad. How do we maintain our closeness after becoming parents? It has a lot of consequences. My biggest recommendation, since words and language are so powerful, is that you hold on to the terms husband and wife. It’s funny.
I often run into parents who, even when they are not with their children, point to their partner and say, “This is daddy.” And I’m thinking to myself, what? That’s your husband. Don’t refer them as daddy. There aren’t even any children around, and you know that’s damaging. It is. There are some unconscious messages that are being sent that the identity of father is more important than the identity of husband. Don’t let that happen to you. It’s kind of funny when you see it but the message it sends is that your relationship is less important than your relationship with the children. So, if it at all possible, it is very important to avoid doing that.
While the new identity of a mother and father is precious and wonderful, you need to put yourselves in your relationship at the top of the hierarchy, and to take care of the needs of the couple before the needs of the family. If you don’t do that, there will be no family, and it you might not continue to ask yourselves: How do we maintain our closeness after becoming parents?
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