When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples

By Carolyn Pape Cowan; Philip A. Cowan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Talk to Me: Hidden Challenges in Couples' Communication

WE CAN IMAGINE A COUPLE who thinks they might be ready to start a family taking a deep breath after reading this book so far and saying to each other, "Okay, here's what we have to do if we're going to make sure that the children we bring into our lives have the right kind of family atmosphere to grow up in. We have to feel good about ourselves and our relationship. We have to work out the 'who does what' problems that we've been skirting. We should try to come to terms with some of what's been troubling us in our relationships with our parents. We need to figure out how we're going to arrange our work lives after the baby comes, where we'll get child care, and whether we can count on friends and family for extra support. And we'd better try to come to some agreements about what we think kids need and how we'll look after those needs. The parenting part might take care of itself if we just make sure that our relationship as a couple is in as good shape as it can be. Now, how do we do that by ourselves?"

This couple is probably concerned because when they try to talk about a disagreement, they typically find themselves becoming tense, angry, and frustrated. The more their tension rises, the less they understand how two people who love each other can be locked in an exchange that feels so terrible. At the height of their argument each would state that the other is the main obstacle to a solution, but inside they both harbor the fear that there is something wrong with them.

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