ERP 272: How to Keep Your Relationship Healthy During a High Demand Time (like having a newborn baby) – An Interview with Catherine O’Brien

By Posted in - Podcast June 15th, 2021 0 Comments

New parents cannot truly prepare for the profound changes a baby brings. Catherine O’Brien, Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist, and founder of shares tips to keep your relationship strong despite the very real challenges of raising kids. 

One of the most common changes new parents experience is the disconnect that brews between them due to the demands of the baby. The secret to overcoming this and even strengthening your relationship is by honestly communicating what your needs are and validating each other when parenting is done right.

In this Episode 

  • 05:31 Introduction to Catherine O’Brien
  • 06:25 Prenatal classes to prepare for your first child are important but having a baby brings unforeseen consequences, such as creating a disconnect with your partner.
  • 11:18 Each parent feels like they are doing all the work. Postpartum communication is critical to share the load and make sure you and your partner know what tasks need to be done and by whom.
  • 14:29 Communication also strengthens your connection with your partner. This connection can fade given the enormous number of tasks needed to raise a child.
  • 19:00 Take stock of your own needs first then see how you can be there for your partner next. This way, you can both bond with your baby in a meaningful way.
  • 22:49 It’s normal to not enjoy every moment of being a parent. Acknowledging and validating each other is important to keep your love alive and foster positive growth as parents.
  • 25:14 Having a united front and handling unwanted parenting advice.
  • 31:47 Catherine’s baby-friendly tips for self-care and reigniting your relationship.
  • 39:46 How to get in touch with Catherine and her Facebook group.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • You cannot do everything. Communicate the help you need because if your partner cannot actually provide it, then you must seek another source of support.  
  • Take time to connect with your partner. Getting lost in chores can make you lose the quality time you two used to spend together. 
  • Assuming what needs to be done may create resentment. By communicating the more important tasks, both partners can be on the same page and address needs as they come.
  • Having kids magnifies the weaknesses of your relationship. Check-in on each other every day and ask how you can support each other. 
  • Ask 3 questions: What am I doing to make sure that I am taking care of myself? What can I do to take care of and connect with my partner? What can I do to make sure that I am connecting with my baby?
  • Identify where your concerns intersect and differ with your partner. This helps you find out how you can support each other in specific ways. 
  • Stress can make you focus on the negatives. Notice your partner’s contributions and build from there to enrich your relationship with each other.  
  • Get creative. There are many ways to still care for your baby but at the same time create quality time between you and your partner.


Catherine’s website

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Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins






Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 


Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Catherine, thank you for joining us today. 

Thank you for having me. I’m really happy to be here. 

Yes. And I know, this is such a special topic that we’re going to be talking about that perhaps maybe not every couple is encountering at the moment, but it is such an important special thing to consider around when a couple is expecting to have a baby or has a newborn baby, and just the landscape of that. Do you want to talk a little bit about where you’re coming from when we are looking at this important time?

My son just turned 12 actually the other day. And so, it’s interesting because I remember being really excited for his birth. I thought I had prepared in a lot of ways. We took all the prenatal classes that you’re supposed to take, and the breastfeeding classes and all the things. And then he arrived, and it was a whole another story of what I was expecting. I just felt so ill-prepared for what would actually happen when he was there. We prepped a lot for his birth but there was no postpartum plan. 

The biggest surprise for me, I think, was just the challenge it took on my relationship with my husband. I thought we had this great relationship, we had good communication, but when you’re tired and overwhelmed, and you’re constantly learning new things and navigating new situations, it takes a toll on your relationship.

“Having a baby was a lot more challenging than I had expected it to be. I think the hardest part was how I felt such a disconnection from my husband.”

As a therapist, I was a therapist at the time, I was like, “How naive was I that bringing home a baby was going to impact my relationship in this way?” I kind of started putting together some ideas of like, “Okay. I wish I would have known this. I wish I would have known that.” I wish I would have known, you know, how truly exhausted I would be. And that in being tired, I would have bad communication. And that it would be difficult to figure out how to negotiate chores and the impact of our extended family members and having opinions coming from all over the place would be. And so, I kind of just created this mental list. 

I was given an opportunity by someone that I had met. I was taking some postpartum workout class. She was like, “Oh, you should come teach a class for me.” I was like, “I have a perfect idea for a class.” Because I’ve been like, storing in a way. I knew that I wasn’t the only one struggling because I would go to these moms’ groups and hear other moms that were struggling and some even more so than I was. And so, I was like, “Why aren’t we ready for this?” 

And so, I put together this workshop called Mine, Yours, Ours: Relationship Survival Guide to Baby’s 1st year. Fortunately, my husband actually ended up being able to teach it with me after a couple times. Like I said, my son just turned 12. We’ve been teaching it together 11 years. And yeah, it just kind of evolved.

I love that your husband teaches it with you and he’s so supportive of the work and recognizes how important this information is, and for people to really have access to. I’m curious if you’re open to sharing, Catherine, when you were noticing the disconnect between you and your husband when your son was young, was he also feeling it?

Yes. I think that’s where it came to a hit. It was one evening. Well, evening. I don’t know if you call two in the morning, evening. It was like in the wee hours of the morning. Our son was crying. I was trying to feed him. My husband was also up. I’m sure we had been up several times. I couldn’t even tell you to this day what our interaction was. It was not good. We’re both really frustrated with each other. We were both feeling like we were doing everything. 

It wasn’t until the next day when we could sit down and be like, “Hey, this is how I’m feeling.” “And I was feeling the same way.” We kind of joke around like, “Well, I was doing everything though, right?” “No. No, you weren’t. I was doing everything.” But it’s like our perception. We do different things. We have different experiences. And so, once we were finally able to talk about it… And not that it changed. I mean, nothing changed except for the fact that we were able to hear each other and started listening and realizing that what we were doing wasn’t working and we needed to change some situations in order for us both to start feeling better because neither one of us were.

Right. Feeling like it was the type of partnership or the sense of togetherness and working and trying to accomplish this very big thing together and feeling like you have each other’s backs. Do you find that that’s a common pitfall or roadblock that people get into? Because I just think it’s such a concern for people in general, whatever the accomplishment that they’re trying to achieve is, it’s getting into this, like, if I just throw all my effort at it, or if I just work and really grind, I’m going to overcome this. But it’s such a temptation to just really think you’re doing it all. And then, to think that that’s going to give you the connection or give you the reward you’re looking for. And really, sometimes it’s quite the opposite. Have you found that couples get into that challenge that they are trying to work really hard, but then don’t feel that much closer?

Yeah. I think one of the challenges that I hear a lot that seems to happen around that is, they have an idea in their head about what’s supposed to be happening but they’re not necessarily communicating with each other what they want the other person to do but feeling like the other person should know. 

Like, “You came home and didn’t you see this is what I was doing? This is what I wanted you to do.” And they didn’t. And so, a very common situation that I hear a lot is one partner, typically whoever is staying home will say, “When they got home, I was trying to make dinner and the baby needed me or the kids were playing or whatever. I don’t know how they couldn’t see that I needed them to help me in the kitchen. Why couldn’t they just go and start helping, you know, playing with the kids or whatever?” 

And the other partner saying, “Well, I came home and it seemed like she had it together so I just thought I’d go start another task, you know, doing something else because I didn’t want to get in the way of whatever the situation was.” But there was no communication of like, “Hey, this is what I want. Or this is how we can reunite when we all come together.” Like, “Let’s do a quick check in about what’s happening and what we need help with.”

That sounds so important because we’re used to a certain flow that might have not have required that level of detail or explicit communication. But when there’s this new baby, a new human being, and we’re kind of pivoting some of our focus and we’re having to kind of share the load a little more, you’re saying it’s so important because what we see visible, we can make up in a story about that and it can be completely wrong. 

“What we see is oftentimes different than what our partner sees. We can’t expect them to read our minds.”

As much as I think now that my husband should be able to read my mind, he can’t. And so, if I expect that, then I’m going to be constantly disappointed in him because he doesn’t. And then, that’s not fair either. So, if I communicate that with him, and I think that’s what happens, especially when we bring a new person home, a new little infant, is that before we weren’t as reliant on our partner. We kind of just did the things that we did. And maybe we did take on more but we could do it because of our schedule. But then you bring home a baby and the workload increases tenfold. There needs to be more negotiation. There needs to be more talk about what is happening or what needs to be done. If the other partner can’t do it, then how do we find support in another way? Because you can’t do everything. Not long term sustainably.

Did you find that once you guys recognized the need for more of this communication and really being explicit were you able to really shift the dynamics? Or did you find that there were really other things too that really needed to be addressed? Because you’re also speaking to support right now. Even if we want to and our heart is in the right place, it’s sometimes not, like you’re saying, sustainable to do at all.

Yeah. I mean, that was a huge piece of it. I think the other piece was just needing more connection with each other. We were doing a lot of work/chores but there wasn’t time to connect than we were used to spending. Like, oh, having dinner together every night. And then it was like, we would try to have dinner together but by the time we got our son in a place where we could, it would be like, “Well, do we wait to eat at nine o’clock at night?” Because I can’t do that, you know, or whatever that was. So, it was trying to figure out how do we find this time to connect and spend quality time together and what are ways to do that, again, when you have an infant at home? So, having to be creative in making time to do that.

Did it require sacrifice to be able to prioritize your connection together? Or did you feel like once you got really creative, you could find those openings?

I mean, I think on some level there were sacrifice. And other ways, it was yeah, if we could be creative and being like, “Hey, we’re doing this different than we used to. It doesn’t mean we can’t go back to doing the way we were. But right now, in this period of time, things are going to be a little bit different in order to make it work.” Like, there’s sacrifices in that. 

But eventually, now that we have two children and now that they’re older, we do have more time. And since we have made an effort in those early years to connect, like, I still enjoy spending time with him and want to be able to do that. And there’s more abundance of that because our kids can entertain themselves and have friends’ houses to go to or, you know, go to their grandparents’ house or whatever. There are other situations so it’s more plentiful. But in the beginning, it was like, “Yeah, what are the priorities?” It’s like making sure that we’re taking care of ourselves, making sure that we’re connecting with each other, and doing all the things that we need to for baby.

And do you find that the couples that you guys support, if they perhaps didn’t have as much strong communication or ease in cultivating connection together that this is that much harder? What do you see around that?

I think it can definitely be harder if you don’t have that, but what I find is oftentimes both partners wanting to work on it realizing like, “Oh, gosh.” 

“I think what happens when we have a child is it magnifies where our weaknesses are.”

Because all of a sudden, the breakdown come sooner or whatever. Or you can see it because you have less. You’re more tired and more overwhelmed so our filter and fuses to tolerate things is less. And so, I feel like it comes to the surface much quicker. So, I think when both partners are willing to like, “Okay. We clearly need to make some changes and trying to figure it out together.” Then, it’s possible. Even if they were struggling more with communication before but if the willingness to both put in like, “What do I need to change in how I’m doing things in order to support my partner better?” And vice versa.

Yes. And for couples that potentially are grappling with how do we start this conversation in the sense of I mean, not just communication, but in the way of connection, do you guys give any tips or suggestions around how to begin to connect when they’re in this really stressful time?

Yeah. I do encourage couples to like, you know, checking in with each other at least once a day and saying, like, “How can I support you? What do you need right now? Is there a way that I can support you?” Sometimes it’s a matter of like, “I just need a hug.” or “I need to run to the bathroom. Can you hold the baby?” Or whatever it is but just that recognition of like, “Hey, I see you. I want to support you. What is it that I can do for you?” I think it’s not one asking the other. It’s both because we have different needs and we need different things in this time. So, I think it’s starting with this acknowledgement that I see you and I want to support you.

No kidding. And imagine for some that’s harder than it sounds. 

Yes. Yes, it is hard. 

Yeah. What do you help them with around this? I can see for any either partner that they could have reasons why that’s hard to vocalize or even identify for that matter.

We wrote a book based off of our workshop. In the book, we break it down into three sections. And based off the three questions we encourage them to ask each other on a regular basis. I think it’s hard to meet our partner’s needs when we already feel spent. Like, we have nothing to give, right? And so, the first question in the first section of the book is, “What am I doing to make sure that I’m taking care of myself?” “What am I doing?” Because I know that you’re giving in all the ways. Whether you’re giving at work, whether you’re giving to the baby. You’re giving in everywhere but to ourselves. So, it’s like, first, checking in what do you need for yourself? What do I need? Do I need rest? Do I need quiet? Do I need to take a shower? Do I need to go for a walk? So, checking in first with ourselves. And each of you doing that, right? Sometimes it’s like, “No. I need community.” “I need to call a girlfriend.” I need to, you know, whatever it is. 

And then, the second question being, what can I do to take care and connect with my partner? Because I feel like we can’t do those if we’re not first doing the care for ourselves. So, it’s like really looking at like, “Hey, we each need to be doing things to replenish ourselves, and like, how do we support each other in doing that?”

No kidding. And I imagine as people are getting some practice with this, they begin to be able to access it a little bit more easily. What about the third question?

Good question. Well, the third question is, what can I do to make sure that I’m connecting with my baby? And that’s my third question because usually they’re doing everything for the baby, right? But I say that because sometimes there’s one partner that’s doing everything, feels like they’re doing everything. And maybe it’s making sure that we’re checking in about that. Are you doing everything because your partner just isn’t involved? Are you doing everything because you’ve kind of pushed them away and you do everything right and you are kind of micromanaging how they do it, and so they’ve started to step back? It’s how to make sure that you’re both getting time to connect and bond with your baby. Does that make sense? 

Absolutely. Absolutely. 

I tell people these questions like, I still, we still check in about. Right? Now that our kids are 12 and eight, like, we still check in because “Am I bonding with my child?” Like, yeah, I tell them to do homework all the time and clean up their rooms, and you know, I feed them, but am I spending my quality time with them? And so, making sure that that I’m doing that on a regular basis?

It’s such a great just checkpoint like you’re saying and to be able to ask those questions because at the end of the day, that’s of high value, but sometimes it’s easy in the day to day living to perhaps not be focusing so clearly on that. And it sounds like it’s really been supportive to continue to keep in you guys’ dialogue.

Right. Right. I mean, I think we can get so busy in our lives doing all the things and being able to be more intentional about what are our priorities, what are the things that we want to do, where do we want to spend our time. And not that they’re all equal. Like, “I’m equally taking care of myself and equally connecting with my partner and my child.” Because sometimes something needs a little bit more than another, right. But hopefully it all balances out when you continue to check in about those things.

When you were talking about communication just a moment ago, I’m imagining that as people are confronted with being new parents, they might have emotions that they weren’t anticipating or experiences that they weren’t expecting to have. How do you help people with communication on this time?

Because bringing a child home can bring up all sorts of feelings. Right? Feelings about maybe your own childhood, hormonally, and everything we go through things. A mom might experience postpartum depression, anxiety. Dads can also experience that. I mean, that’s another reason where I’m like, “Hey, let’s check in regularly with how you’re each doing because you might not be doing well.” How do you support each other so that the other person feels like it’s okay to say, “I am having a hard time and that that is normal, and that that is okay to do.”? 

Being able to support and acknowledge each other for whatever struggles that they’re having because I think it is a huge fare for parents to admit that they’re having a hard time as a new parent. They don’t want to say that because what kind of parent are you if you aren’t enjoying every moment? You’re a wonderful parent. It’s hard and it’s impossible to enjoy every moment. Right? So, it’s being able to acknowledge and validate each other for whatever difficulty that they’re having.

“I think it is a huge fare for parents to admit that they’re having a hard time as a new parent. (…) It’s being able to acknowledge and validate each other for whatever difficulty that they’re having.”

Yeah, and it sounds like the book and your workshop and what you guys teach together, you and your partner, that it provides even community in of itself. Is that true? Like, giving a sense of validation and normalcy of you’re not alone, like, these are common and that from there, it gives a platform for couples to have some more prompts to potentially talk about? 

Yeah, because one of the first things we do is we talk about what are these common transition issues. There’s a lot of different things, right? There’s the change in finances. There’s the change in your role as in career. There’s a change in your role in your relationship. And now, being a new parent, there’s household obligation changes. There are all sorts of things. Different people find struggles in different areas. And so, it’s being able to identify with your partner, each of you, what your concerns are, where are they similar, and where are they different? And then, how do we support each other in those similarities and differences?

Absolutely. One of the questions I’m holding in my mind, Catherine, is you had talked about even extended family and that can have both positives and negatives. Like you’re saying, unwanted advice but also potentially support. For partners, you have a newborn and maybe don’t have the network local or potentially for whatever reason, like you mentioned, finances. Maybe don’t feel like they have the luxury or the ability to hire help in what way, you know, babysitter or whatever it is. And it sounds like even the communication and some of the prompts that you’re offering and getting creative, that there are ways to work together to get some of these needs met. It just might take a little bit more thought and intention and creativity. 

I love to know more about how you’re seeing this. More just like, when they’re confronted with a conflict. And you’re talking about these differences and maybe they don’t feel like they have the resources or the local support. What might feel like a deficit? I’m wondering if you find that through communication, they can actually generate ideas that can be supportive, maybe when initially, it felt really like a hardship.

Right. Well, I think sometimes too and especially when we’re stressed, and let’s be honest, even though we plan for having a baby, we’re excited about having a baby, it’s so stressful. And when we’re stressed, we tend to focus on all the things that aren’t working. So, I think sometimes too, it’s like being able to notice, like, “Okay. How is my partner being supportive?” What are they doing that is helpful and focusing on that. And then, building from there about like, okay then, this is working well. How’s this working well? What can we use from this that we can then help in these areas where we are struggling?

I love that. Do you have an example that people can kind of connect with a little bit more?

One situation was a mom was telling me how she felt like her husband never came home and he never would do the things that she needed to do to help her like wash bottles or fold laundry or do any of those things. But then in talking more she was always like, “Oh, he’s such a great dad. He plays with the baby. They seem to always have so much fun. He does that better than I do. He plays better than I do.” Which is not uncommon for me to hear someone say. Like, I think my husband plays way better than I do with my kids too. 

So then, we were talking about that and we’re like, “How can we turn that around and get him involved in helping you in the afternoon when you get back together?” He gets home from work. At the time, he was working out of the home and I think she was doing some part time work at home. And so, they started talking about how do we want our reconnection together look like? What do we want to have happen? Because it was kind of like disjointed. She would be doing her thing. And he had something in his head. And so, they started texting each other before he got home, which normally I’ll tell people not to text because you can’t read into how people are feeling. But it was more of like a logistical thing like, “Hey, I was thinking this.” Or they would check in at the beginning of the day like, “Hey, this is what I want to do this evening.” 

So, they started having more of a loose plan around what was going to happen in the evening and had more of a routine. And that seemed to really help them. She recognizes that him playing and him doing this stuff was actually helpful. And then, she would get some things done. And then, they would kind of switch and he would do a chore or something and she would do the reading, like she like reading and putting the baby to bed. It felt like they were more working together because they were able to recognize each of their contributions.

I think there can be something really beautiful when a couple is able to acknowledge the positives and really vocalize that and validate that and support that, that it feels like we are contributing in a positive way. We’re really clear about that and can feel really good about it.

Right. I think it can feel really good too. You’d let the other person know what is helpful. What’s benefiting you, right, so they can do more of that. So often we’re like, “Oh, yeah, that was great.” And then, we don’t tell them and then we don’t know why they don’t do it again. We might tell them what we don’t like. I feel like we’re much better about saying what we don’t like or don’t want them to do, or that disappoints us. But I think if we can focus more on what they are doing that is helpful and contributing, or just even acknowledging, like, “Oh, my gosh, when you play the baby, I can just see the glee in their eyes and that feels good to me to see them so happy when you’re spending time together or whatever.”

Absolutely. It melts my heart. Right. Also, I find that when that explicit communication is coming, it’s possible that their significant other was putting so much energy and effort into a different thing that might have not really mattered that much and they’re like, “If this is where it’s at and this is the mark, that helps me so much more that I can let that other thing go because if it doesn’t mean anything, it’s not worth really putting in all that effort.”

Right. Right. Yeah. I think it’s figuring out what is happening when they’re doing it. We even talked about this in our workshop. It’s like, “I’m coming home and you think that I don’t care about what you’re doing but maybe I’m needing some time to decompress from my day. I’m thinking I’m being helpful by actually doing another chore.” Whereas you’re saying, like, “No. I need you here right now because I’ve been home all day and I’m overwhelmed by the situation but we haven’t had any clear, explicit communication to talk about that.” 

So, if you understand, like, “Hey, I’m not trying to avoid you, I just had an intense day. There was a bunch of meetings, and I’m just trying to kind of cool off from that. And I thought I would be helpful by mowing the lawn or whatever right now. I didn’t realize what you needed.” So, maybe I needed to either find another way, or now that you know what I’m doing, like, if you’re able to understand, and if it feels less of a, you know, I’m abandoning you and more of like, okay, they’re taking care of their needs, like this is part of that, like taking care of self, whatever that is. 

Exactly. And the support around that. I’m curious, Catherine, as you were looking at this, when you’re in your own experience, and you’re like, “I wish I would have known these things.” Is there anything you want to share with us today that you wish you would have known or you feel like is really important that we haven’t talked about? 

“What do I wish? I wish I would have known a lot of things. I wish I would have known that it (having a baby) would impact my relationship with my husband.”

Because if I had known that we could kind of had planned a little bit about how are we going to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves and supporting each other but getting additional support if we need it. Not that it would be easy, because I don’t think it’s ever easy, necessarily, but it would have been so much better and there would have been less conflict and less feeling isolated or feeling lonely or just feeling like hurt by each other.

And it’s begging the question for me, was a lot of this more smooth with your second?

Yeah, it was so much smoother. I think it helped that we kind of figured out the sleep. Right? When you’re not getting sleep, it was a nightmare for us. Like, trying to get him to sleep and I was reading books and, you know, looking online and stuff, trying to figure out every night as I be up feeding him trying to Google how to get my kid go to sleep. And my husband’s like, “Yeah, you need to stop searching the internet at two in the morning. That’s not the time to be looking for tips on sleep.” I would get so upset and anxious and just being so tired. 

Yeah, the second time it went so much smoother. We had a plan. It’s one of those compromises we made. Whereas, I would go to bed earlier in the early months because I needed to get a good chunk of sleep. Like a good five to six hours of uninterrupted time. And, you know, I was able to have a bottle so that my husband could give that first bottle in the evening and then he would go to bed. And so, I would get a chunk of sleep and then I would get up the next feeding. And then, he would be able to get a chunk of sleep. And we’re both getting adequate amounts of sleep that our ability to communicate and interact with each other was so much better and less stressful. We were able to find other ways to get more support with just kind of like household chores and duties. Because we also had a four-year-old. His life didn’t stop when we brought home a baby. It just kept going. In some ways, I know it could have been so much more stressful but I feel like we put into place what we taught other people and it just made things so much easier for us.

That’s so great that you can speak to that because I know not every child is the same and their needs are different. So sometimes we can be thrown a curveball with unexpected things to manage. 

And so, with your second, and the connection, was that a lot smoother too in being able to find ways to connect? Because also having the four-year-old with a newborn. Was that part of the plan and you guys were able to execute that?

Yeah. When we had our son, we weren’t making date nights or planning time to like, you know, uninterrupted which was never truly uninterrupted with kids, but trying an intentional time to spend together. Whereas, when we had our youngest, we did. We made sure that we were spending intentional time together. Even if we brought her with us, we knew it was like, okay, we’re going to make sure that we’re connecting and talking about what’s going on. Well, I can talk about what’s going on at work, vice versa, or friends, or plans for the future, or like some fun things that the kids are doing, or the cute interactions between the kids, you know, just different things like that. Like, making sure that we had that time to hear each other and talk about those things on a regular basis. 

I always encourage people like, once a week, like, somehow do a date night. And it doesn’t have to be at night. I always call it date night because that’s the easiest thing to say. But like, maybe it’s at lunch. And maybe you meet each other on your lunch break. Or, you know, you go for a walk in the evening and maybe you’re pushing the baby in the stroller but you go for a walk while they sleep. Or you make dinner together. You feed the baby early, and then you make dinner together or have a dessert or something like that, or, you know, take a little picnic lunch or something like that. I think it’s just like trying to do like different things and make it creative where you can.

And it seems so healthy for the family that there is that intentional time that the kids get to feel like, “Oh, this is mommy and daddy’s time.” They’re like, you know, getting to feel that bond happening even if, you know, obviously, there might be interruptions, but it’s not like, “Oh, we’re so focused on the kids right now.” Or, “Oh, we’re bonding with the kids right now.” It’s like our time and we’re prioritizing that, and yes, of course, if something needs attention, we’ll give it but we’re coming back to us at this moment.

Right. And it’s become a thing where they’re like, “Are you doing date night tonight?” Because it’s like, they get their own special dinner. Well, you know, if we go out to dinner or something we have our own. But it’s like, “Are you doing date night? Can you do date night tonight?” So, it’s like they’ve decided like it’s a fun thing. Like, they get to watch a movie together or whatever. And we’re not, you know, overshadowing them. Or maybe they spend the night at, you know, one of their grandparents’ house or something like that. So, it’s like fun and they look forward to it. I think maybe more than we do. We haven’t really been on a date night with everything going on, but we’ve tried to find ways to be creative and have that time even if it’s at home. 

Well, it’s lovely that they’re supportive of it and rooting for it and reminding you of it. 

Right. Right. I really credit it to because we’ve done it from such an early age. Like, it’s just a normal part of their lives. It’s like, you know, brushing their teeth kind of thing. Like, this is what you do on Saturdays. And you can pick whatever day it is.

It’s so important because it can be easy to let that atrophy and really prioritize the children and then it’s like we get to a place and it’s like, “Ah, how did we get here?” And to really be able to recognize as soon as possible or even preventatively having a plan and, you know, we might need to make some alterations, but it could potentially go so much more smoothly not to say that we won’t have the toll of what needs to get expended as far as the work of it all, but being able to feel that connection, prioritize that connection, and be together, maintain that bond in the relationship and it’s so incredibly important. 

Right. I was telling my clients too. I feel like I know when I need more time connecting with my husband, because little things he does drives me crazy. Like, not wiping the sink down or being next to me in the kitchen. Like, in my way. Like, he’s either in my way or he’s not. If I find the little things he does to be more annoying, then I take that as my sign. Like, “Oh, I need to feel connected to him. I need to feel like we’re on the same page because right now I feel like we’re not.” Because it’s not like sometimes he does these things. He does them all the time. I just notice them when I don’t have that connection.

“I know when I need more time connecting with my husband because little things he does drives me crazy. (…) It’s not like sometimes he does these things. He does them all the time. I just notice them when I don’t have that connection.”

And I love what you said earlier also about, it’s hard to want to be there for your significant other when perhaps you’re feeling like your cup is really run dry. And I love that. I’m in the same boat with you just recognizing what are the things that are indicators or science that maybe my connection with my significant other is getting a little, not strained but like it could use more connection time, right, to solidify that because he’s starting to bother me or annoy me or get under my skin. I’m irritable. And that’s super helpful. Because, you know, it’s not always easy to quantify. Life is messy, especially when we have a newborn and all the different moving parts. So, this is super helpful. Wonderful. Well, how do people get in touch with you and what you’re offering and teaching and sharing with people?

Yeah. My website is My book is Happy with Baby: Essential Relationship Advice When Partners Become Parents. I’m on all the social media @HappyWithBaby. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, it’s @HappyWithBaby. I think Pinterest too. I mean, I’m that easy to find in that way. And I do have a Facebook community where weekly I share tips or tricks on either connection, or recently I’ve been doing a big push on like that whole self-care, especially since we’ve been under this chronic stress. How do we really take care of ourselves if we don’t have a lot of time or we don’t even have places to go to get that time? It’s been hard. It’s been so much harder. How do you really take care of yourself? So, it’s like different tips on that. There’s always seems to be different themes for different months and stuff. So yeah, and connecting with other parents. I do a virtual Meetup group once a month and just like some other activities and stuff. So, that’s the Facebook group is Happy with Baby Community. So, easy to remember.

Yeah. Instagram, Happy with Baby. Facebook, Happy with Baby. Your book, Happy with Baby. I love it. 

Keeping it simple. I got to keep things simple because there’s a lot. 

It’s beautiful. And your website is where people can find your book. It sounds like you offer coaching and then the workshops. And then, also on Facebook for the groups and the community and different things that you’re sharing on social media. Is that right? 

Yes. Yep, yep, absolutely. 

Okay, great. I’ll make sure to put all of those links on today’s show notes. Catherine, thank you for joining us today.

Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed speaking with you.

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Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication.

Stop the criticism loop, learn new ways to communicate
and strengthen the connection with your partner.


Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching