- Work as a team. Talk about how you’d like to divvy up the chores. Plan your parental leave. Deal with any loss of income that may result from time with baby or the cost of childcare. Figure out how to enlist your support system. Since you can’t predict how things will go in the often-chaotic life of a young family, make a plan to check in with each other weekly and shift gears as needed.
- Practice the delicate art of marital negotiation. Often we rush into telling our partner what he or she should do: “You should quit work.” “You should make more money.” “You’ve lost your sex drive.” Talking about how you feel (“I’m scared about all the layoffs in my office,” “I miss you,” “I’m exhausted”) without trying to persuade each other of anything is a far more effective way to be sure your partner will listen rather than getting defensive. Then the two of you can tackle the problem together.
- Share your hopes and dreams as individuals, as a couple, as a family, and as a part of your community and the wider world. How will you reach out to others? What do you and your partner care about and stand for? What do you want your child to grow up knowing about you? Deepening your sense of shared purpose and belonging can help you keep your perspective through sleepless nights and stressful mornings.
Pre-baby marriage counseling helps you see everybody’s needs -- yours, your partner’s, your baby’s and your marriage’s -- as different pieces in one big jigsaw puzzle. And it gives you the skills to keep on putting them together, day after day for years to come.