Expectations Meet Reality
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities
Everyone knows that their life will change when they bring home baby. But no one can really anticipate just how much— or what those changes will feel like. This chapter examines the many unreasonable expectations our culture promotes and provides strategies for coping.
Most parents approach birth or adoption with great anticipation and excitement. Life is about to change forever! But few are prepared for the emotional extremes they encounter when they come home with their little bundle. Irrespective of sexual orientation, all couples experience the transition to parenthood as a seismic shift in their lives, a shift that involves significant realignment of priorities. As one father put it “think about how much your life is going to change, and now times it by ten."
One of life’s hidden expectations is the hope that the addition of a baby will preserve or even improve a marriage. But one of the best kept secret of parenthood is that marital satisfaction declines, often dramatically, after bringing home baby. Relatively few couples—a mere 7% of women and 14% of men—say that marital satisfaction remained stable or increased after the birth or adoption of a child. But take hope. Research shows that for most, relationship satisfaction will improve again— but not until the youngest is in school. This book is about what to do in the meantime—how to adjust your expectations, to develop the resiliency, to weather the storm.