Therapist to Chicago parents: Make your relationship a priority

Parents-to-be often take classes focused on labor and delivery, breastfeeding and newborn care, but therapist Mallory Rose found the Chicago area lacking in ways to help couples keep their relationships strong.

That’s why she created a workshop, Staying Connected After the Birth of Your Baby, held at New Mother New Baby, 3115 Dundee Road, Northbrook.

“It’s really kind of a gift to do for your relationship, to make it a priority,” says Rose, staff therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University.

In the workshop, she focuses on conflict management, division of labor, fighting fairly and warm fathering.

“A lot of the research shows when mom and dad are happy, baby is happy. I think a lot of times that gets sidetracked. It’s very easy to forget about your significant other. Research also shows for a baby’s healthy emotional attachment, they really need to see parents having a healthy, loving relationship.”

Rose took a few minutes to answer a few questions about being a mom and a therapist:

What is the most common complaint you hear from couples?

Conflict. I think it’s really important that people know that conflict is normal. A healthy relationship is not absence of conflict, but how conflict is handled. The content about what people are arguing about changes, things are coming up that you hadn’t thought about before baby, such as how to handle in-laws, values around parenting, conversations about sex. I think the process of how couples fight really changes. … When you are not sleeping, it really can cause depression. When you are exhausted and depressed, you are not really at your best to fight fairly.

What has been the most surprising thing about being a mom?

I think it’s really corny, but I think it’s the love I have toward my son, but also the love I have toward my husband. I see him in a completely different light. … I knew I would be in love with my son, but I didn’t realize that my love toward my husband would change as well.

What has been the toughest transition for you as a parent?

The anxiety. Even though we have a very healthy son, there’s always something you are going to be anxious about as a parent. I’m an anxious person and I own it, but I feel like there’s always something that I am worried about.

What has been the funniest thing to happen since your baby arrived?

We were in music class two weeks ago. We assume because he sees Matt and I kiss a lot, he’s a big kisser. I literally look over for one second and he’s gotten to first base with a 2-year-old. It’s not just a peck, they are French kissing.

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