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From Couple to Family: What Changes When Two Become Three (or even more)

The transition from couple to family can seriously challenge the balance of a relationship. For new parents, the transition from married couple to parental couple brings about a profound change, not only organizational, but also emotional and psychological.

There is no doubt about it: the birth of a child radically and definitively transforms the couple. The wife-husband relationship expands to include the new roles of mom and dad. The concept of family itself takes on a new definition of responsibility, as well as of love.

New parents are called to face a crucial transformation that occurs on at least four levels: 

  • Organizational

Especially in the first months, a child has its own needs and rhythms. Moments of sleep and wakefulness, spaces, times and ways of living, the entire daily routine of the family is redefined - and sometimes disrupted - by the needs of care of the newborn.

  • Emotional

The entry of a baby is accompanied by a considerable load of emotions and contrasts: love, fear, stress. Happiness is intertwined with the fear of not being able to live up to one's role as a parent and with the frustration due to the renunciations as an individual and as a couple.

  • Psychological

Maternity and paternity have a significant impact on the couple's relationship. The newborn child becomes a third party between husband and wife and forces the couple to find a balance in the new family so that no one feels excluded.

  • Social

Last but not least, parenthood activates a new social pressure on the couple. New mothers and fathers are too often asked to be (only and above all) parents in the most widely shared meaning, often to the detriment of the couple.

From Couple to Family... and back again

Managing the transition from couple to family is not a joke. When faced with a problematic crisis, it is advisable to seek timely referral to a psychotherapist who can help the wife and husband not to lose themselves in parenthood.

Before the situation gets out of control, however, it is possible to take action. How? 

  1. Become aware and accept change

The creation of a family is a project usually sought and desired by both parents. The inevitable change must be faced together and not be discouraged by individual obstacles.

  1. Parenting is a team game, not a race

Caring for, raising and educating children engages mom and dad in different ways, but without hierarchy. Attempting to take control, excluding the other or excluding oneself does not serve the purpose and can seriously compromise the relationship.

  1. Give space and time to companionship

Being together is certainly beautiful. Nevertheless, and in spite of all the psychological and social pressures, every now and then mom and dad have to find space and time to devote to the couple.

  1. Never stop communicating or taking each other for granted

A family with children offers a sense of accomplishment beyond which there may seem to be nothing more to say or do. In this way, you end up taking for granted the feeling of love and the person through whom you have reached that goal. It is important for the couple to rediscover every day the joy, pleasure and gratitude of being together in their family history.

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