Whether youre bringing home one new baby or six, expanding your brood requires adjustment.
- Adjust sleep schedules so that one partner sleeps while the other is awake with the baby.
- When possible, get a friend or relative to occasionally help out at night so mom and dad have some time to cultivate their relationship one-on-one. Especially as kids get older, make sure they understand that mom and dad need time to themselves.
- Be aware of the signs of postpartum depression like appetite changes, trouble concentrating, loss of energy, and hopelessness.
- Make activities that promote mental healthsuch as exercise and social timea top priority.
Before Jon & Kate Plus Eight, the Gosselins worked like the rest of usshe as a nurse, he as an IT consultant. But things have changed since their family morphed into reality-show fodder, with Kate parlaying her notoriety into a career that includes two books, television appearances, and publicity tours.
- The partner who is earning less money may struggle with a diminished self-esteem and feel extra sensitive, while the other may feel resentful about being the primary breadwinner. But both partners need to respect the other's role and recognize their situation as shared. In the case of Jon and Kate, “the only reason she can do what she does is because he probably takes care of the kids while shes giving a lecture,” Dr. Goldstein points out.
- Find family and friends dealing with this same issue. Talking about shared struggles can help couples gain perspective and give them a chance to feel good about using their experience to help others.
- If one partner is out of work, he or she should be encouraged to pursue a new skill set and stay intellectually and physically active. This will improve his or her role within the family and may open new doors in the future.
Stress trigger No. 3: Intrusive in-laws
Although most couples dont have extended family announcing their disapproval on national television, it is certainly not uncommon for couples to elicit criticism from relatives over how theyre raising their children. When people come together as a couple, they bring their own familys rules and ways of doing things with them, says Dr. Robbins.
- First, listen to your in-laws. But in the end, decide as a couple which rules and guidelines are in your (and your childrens) best interest.
- Talk to each other. If one partner is under more scrutiny, its important that the other listen carefully and that both talk about how they may be affected.
- Present a united front to your extended family. It is crucial that they know you stand together.
Stress trigger No. 4: You pick on each other
Kate has famously criticized Jon for breathing too loudly. He continually seems irritated by her neat streak. “When couples begin to argue over small things, it usually means they have not resolved a more important problem,” says Dr. Robbins.
- In a calm moment, sit your partner down and ask him or her if there is something you have done that is troubling them. Be clear about why you feel mistreated and be specific in your examples.
- If youre the one doing the criticizing, first consider how much actual damage your partners annoying habit can do, says Dr. Goldstein. “If your spouse is text messaging while driving, thats worth talking about. If someone slurps when they drinkwell, you have to weigh the cost of the criticism versus the change that youre going to get.”
- Dont give up. It may take some discussion to figure out what is really going on, but in the end it can prevent unnecessary and unproductive conflict.
Stress trigger No. 5: Infidelity
The tabloids have been buzzing with reports of Jon's and Kates alleged indiscretions, which they have both denied. But it raises a common question for many coupleswhat constitutes an inappropriate relationship?
- Sit down and talk about what relationships were like in your family when you were growing up. Maybe youre comfortable with your partner going out for lunch at work with a member of the opposite sex, but not for happy hour. Be open about what feels “normal” to you.
- Dont be constrained by other peoples ideas of what is right and wrong. This is a private matter for the couple to agree on.
- If a line has been crossed, you need to decide together if the marriage is salvageable. If both members feel that there is a possibility of working things out, seeing a professional can help you sort out the feelings you are left with and move past them.