Simcha: I assume you mostly work with Catholic couples. Is the strength of a couple’s faith a good predictor for how well they can work through their problems? This sounds like a softball question – like, “yes yes, of course when we are faithful, we will find life’s burdens light” – but I’m really curious, because I know that a strong religious faith doesn’t always translate easily or directly into good emotional health or strong relationships.
Dr. Greg: You’re right. In fact, many faithful couples who have more rigid role expectations may struggle more with birth than other couples. If you tend to be of the mindset the God made men to do X and women to do Y and never the twain shall meet, you may tend to fail to be there for each other, take on too much for yourself, and make excuses for behavior that would be otherwise inexcusable.
Faith tends to be helpful when it is expressed, not as “rules to live by” but rather as “a call to be generous and understanding regarding each other’s needs.” Babies have a way of stretching your comfort zones. If your faith helps you deal with that and respond accordingly, both your faith and relationships will become healthier as you grow as a person. But if your faith is mainly about having hard and fast rules to live by, you might not adapt as well to the unpredictability that comes with post-baby life.
Good stuff, with lots of practical advice — things we learned the hard way, and are still working on learning. Read the rest here.
I will post a link to the finished OSV article when it comes out; and also keep an eye out for Popcak’s newest book, written with his wife: Then Comes Baby: Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenthood (Ave Maria Press–Nov 2014).
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