Most married couples do not think at all that their marriage is going through phases in which there is a high risk of the breakdown of the relationship.
As a family psychologist, I would like to introduce as many people as possible into this issue, so that the number of divorces is much less.
Most often, entering a dead end of dialogue, spouses find, as it seems to them, the easiest way out – a divorce. But in fact, there is a great alternative – to deal with the cause of the conflict.
Regulatory family crises
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In order to keep the family alive, it is worth knowing about the normative crises in the family that cannot be avoided. It’s just that everyone deals with these problematic moments in completely different ways.
Birth of a child the family is one of such regulatory crises. Of course, this information may cause confusion, why such a happy event in the family, like the birth of a child, is considered a crisis? After all, most parents are looking forward to meeting their baby, they live with trepidation during pregnancy.
What can go wrong so that suddenly, after the birth of a baby, newly-made parents become enemies to each other?
Causes of family crisis after childbirth
Let’s take a look at the main causes of the postpartum period that lead to a crisis in the family.
In my articles, you will hear more than once the fact “family is a system”. Any system, be it your body, state or family, does not like changes. The main thing for the system is to remain stable. And it doesn’t matter that for you, perhaps this stability is no longer good enough or useful.
So, when another family member is born in the family, it will have to “expand”. From now on, the dyad will become a triad. Moreover, one more subsystem will appear. The spouses are the parental subsystem, and the child will be sibling.
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The spouses will also have an expanded role. Previously, they were:
- husband and wife;
- son and daughter (in the parental family).
And now they have become parents. The parenting role carries a lot of responsibility, and when entering it, as a rule, people do not track how the given role consumes their lives. As if there is no space for romantic communication between spouses, there is no energy for the previous roles of life.
All these aspects often lead to emotional exhaustion, misunderstanding and, worst of all, to the dying of love.
Another factor leads to the destruction of relations in a couple after the birth of a child: the formation of a coalition between subsystems. Let’s deal with these, at first glance, strange concepts.
Subsystem Is part of the family system. It can be parental and sibling (child).
Coalition Is an unification of people. According to the rules of systemic family therapy, it is believed that a healthy coalition is a union within one subsystem.
Example: the parents agreed on a unified methodology for raising a child. If there is a union of one parent and child, this is already a destructive coalition. At the energy level in the family, a scenario is triggered where, as if something is hidden from the second parent. The parent may unknowingly feel excluded.
This can manifest itself in:
- bad mood;
- loss of strength and energy.
An example of such a coalition: mom tells her daughter that they will buy something and dad will not tell about it. Moreover, an interesting paradox is that such a coalition cannot be avoided after the birth of a baby.
Mom and newborn up to 1.5 years old are fused as one whole. Only by the age of two does the baby begin to perceive the concept of “me and the other”. Prior to this, the state of the child’s psyche perceives the world as if I was still in my mother’s tummy. And also the attachment of the mother and the baby is due to the basic needs of survival – elementary breastfeeding.
The reaction of dad and husband to this merger can be different in each individual case. And this does not mean at all that some men understand and accept the situation, while others do not.
The crisis grows out of a series of coincidences, interweaving of unworked scenarios in the children’s history of each of us. Even a fairly stable head of the family can feel “exclusion” or the trauma of being abandoned after the birth of a child.
In fact, you cannot envy a young family during this period. Spouses have to do a huge amount of work. They go through accepting the role of parents, adapting to caring for the child.
Before that, in their dyad, everyone coped with basic needs on their own. And then a person appears who is completely dependent on mom and dad.
The influence of relatives on the crisis in the family
The fact of the formation of a psychological space for grandparents can be considered a significant root of evil. Most of our parents were formed according to the typology of the “land of the Soviets”. It is not easy to withstand the “mother-in-law-reference book” or “mother-in-law-encyclopedia” of modern youth.
It would seem that the family expanded by one person, but this attracted attention and gave the invasion of a large number of experienced adults who want to impose their own rules on this young system, as if manipulating the hierarchy. No matter how loyal you are to relatives, irritation will form even at the subconscious level.
Influence of intimate relationships on the crisis in the family
In addition to destructive coalitions and role confusion, the next largest problem in families during the crisis of childbirth is sexual problems. It’s not really customary to talk about this even with friends.
It is even more difficult for spouses to discuss problems in their intimate life. The theme of intimacy carries a huge amount of understatement, and where something is hidden, fantasies about the lack of love and understanding are always born.
At this point, the couple cannot meet both emotionally and physically. The causes of sexual problems after the birth of a child are:
- postpartum trauma;
- hormonal background of a woman;
- fatigue and lack of sleep from night feedings;
- fear of repeated pregnancy.
Dysfunctions or unwillingness to have sexual intercourse can occur in both the husband and wife.
Sometimes men are so impressed by the post-natal consequences that the program “girls must not be hurt” is switched on and sexual attraction to their spouse suppresses the fear of another pregnancy. After all, there is fresh experience that childbirth can entail physical trauma to the spouse.
How to overcome a family crisis?
Of all the above reasons and possible scenarios for the course of the normative crisis after the birth of a child, young spouses should remember: no matter what happens to your relationship during this period, you should definitely not get divorced.
The best thing is to figure out why this is so, this is an excuse to sit down at the negotiating table and just build new rules of life. This is a reason to protect the borders of your family more rigidly from the invasion of relatives.
If your strength is at its limit and it seems to you that it is in your situation that there is no way out, all the same – before you write a statement about divorce, sign up for a consultation with a family psychologist. Give your family a chance.
Ksenia Yurieva – family consultant psychologist, gestalt therapist, sexologist, art therapist, teacher of the Smart online institute.
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