A couple experiences immense joy but also great upheaval when baby arrives and makes three.

From being a couple to being parents

A couple experiences immense joy but also great upheaval when baby arrives and makes three. Where there was balance between two, a new balance now needs to be created among three. How do you stay united in this whirlwind of new challenges?

Mireille Dion is very familiar with the concerns of new parents. Each month, at the Vallée du Richelieu family centre in Beloeil, she leads workshops to talk about them: Être maman et être femme, Parents et toujours amoureux, La sexualité post-partum (Being a mother and a woman, Parents and still in love, Sex after birth). Her workshops are popular and there is never a shortage of subject material. “Once you become a parent, fatigue, novelty, conflicts of values, division of tasks and lack of time for yourself all become sources of tension,” explains the speaker and sex therapist.

If a couple is already the joining of two life stories and two personalities, the arrival of a child brings its own share of new questions (education, budget planning, etc.).

These issues sometimes accentuate the problems that already exist within the couple. And since parents are so busy, these important conversations are often put off until later. “Women in particular tend to keep feelings of resentment to themselves when they’re upset with their partner, and this can harm the relationship,” remarks Dion.

Even if most couples expect it, they have fewer intimate moments together. The lack of time spent as a couple and the loss of interest in sex—at least during the postpartum period—can create tension. “Many parents realize that they’ve lost sight of their couple, feel more like parents than lovers and are destabilized by the decrease in their desire. When routine has the upper hand, frustration often accumulates in silence, with neither partner daring to talk about it because they don’t take time for themselves anymore,” explains Dion.

Our notion of what a family unit is becomes clearer when we become parents. Then we have to consider how important our love life and family life is to us, and which parenting model we want to follow. Every couple faces these questions differently, and each person’s past experiences influences how they see things.

John Wright, a clinical psychologist who specializes in couple therapy explains: “Children bring into sharp focus the compatibility of individuals. If parents are compatible, they’ll adjust and find solutions. If compatibility is a problem, there will be tensions.”