Partners2Parents: Strengthening Couples Emotional Connection During the Transition to Parenthood: Program Design and Plan for Evaluation
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The transition to parenthood brings excitement and joy to most couples as they plan for a life changing experience and witness their child’s development. However, this milestone is associated with challenges and changes that significantly influence couple satisfaction. Relationship distress is associated with decreased relationship satisfaction, increased conflict, and can negatively influence the parent child relationship. There is growing recognition among healthcare professionals and scholars, that supporting the couple relationship during the transition to parenthood can prevent distress, family breakdown, and poor child outcomes (Markman & Halford, 2005). Despite our increased knowledge of the impact that the transition to parenthood can have on the couple relationship, there are few evidence-based programs available to support couples to strengthen their relationship during the transition to parenthood. This thesis reviews adult attachment theory, and emotionally focused therapy and describes factors that influence relationship satisfaction and emotional connection between partners. This research guides the development of an accessible, self-guided program with the intention of strengthening the couple relationship during the transition to parenthood; the program is entitled Partners2Parents. Partners commonly experience emotional intensity and unfamiliar emotional responses during the transition to parenthood. These experiences can influence a couple’s bond and emotional attachment. The writer hypothesizes that partners who are becoming parents would benefit from working on exercises that generate conversation, promote emotional connection, create opportunities to experience emotions together, and explore individual needs and collective goals. Offering information and self-guided exercises linked to these topics may promote couple satisfaction and positively influence their future as partners, and as parents.