Six ways to improve your communication as a father

Good communication is vital to any relationship, but during pregnancy and the first year of having a newborn, it is essential. You'll feel more tired and emotional than you ever have before. You'll be pushed to your limits, so you need to learn to communicate. 

Man and woman sitting opposite each other holding cups on table
Image credit: Joshua-Ness on Wunderstock (license)

Express your feelings

"Men aren't supposed to show feelings" - this is utter garbage. We're emotional beings, and you have the same mood swings as your partner. Studies show that a mans hormones will actually follow a similar pattern to women. So that's one reason why you can be a little more irritable and cranky some days. You need to practice explaining how you're feeling, because it's something we're not good at. 

I've had so many times where I've just told my wife "Somethings going on with me but I don't know what... I might be cranky with you". It's often hard to know what's wrong or what caused it, and often we just want to "fix" it, but expressing that you're not yourself is the first step.

Learn when to pause and reflect

You'll go through a lot of emotions over the next few years. You'll have a lot of sleepless nights. You'll have a baby that just won't stop crying. These aren't great ingredients for thinking clearly. I'm a pretty calm guy most of the time and my wife and I rarely argue, but we've definitely had more arguments since having a baby. And they're always about the most ridiculous things that ultimately do not matter.

If you find yourself with a rush of blood to the head and you just want to scream or throw something or go for a run, stop. Just step away. Say that you think you should talk later, and go for a walk, or a run or lift some heavy things and set them back down again.

Apologise

Even if it's not your fault, show some humility and say you're sorry. What's more important: being right, or the woman you love? 

Ask questions

How are you feeling? 
Can I do anything to help you? 
How was your day?
Are you comfortable? 
Would you like this chocolate bar? (If you only remember one thing, remember this question)

Never say never

Or "always". "You're always late!", "You never do the dishes". Chances are that your statement is just not true. My wife is sometimes late, not always. It's ok to be frustrated by your partners actions, but these words are very final. They give the message that there's nothing that your partner can do to change. Instead try to use language which emphasises how their action makes you feel, for example "It frustrates me when you're late, because it makes me feel like you don't respect my time".

Sit next to each other

I got a really great piece of advice when I was getting married - If you need to talk through a problem, or resolve an argument, sit next to each other. The idea is that you're sitting next to each other as a team and you're setting the "thing" that you need to talk about in front of both of you. You're looking at it as partners and figuring out how to solve it together. It may sound a bit fluffy, but trust me it works. There's so much of our communication which is non vocal, so being next to each other sends a big message of trust and togetherness. Whereas if you were like the couple in the picture at the top of this article, you're setting the problem between you and it blocks your connection with your partner.

Listen

Everyone wants to be heard and valued. It can take some practice to listen though. Some good tricks are to speak back what has been said in your own words, or to ask relevant questions. They're not really tricks though - you have to actually listen for them to work.



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