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Gearing Advantage

Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Brad Pitt on Fatherhood - June 12, 2008

Brad Pitt on Fatherhood: How Fathers are the Secret to Romance After Baby

June 12, 2008

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Celebrity sightings report that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are expecting twins and just spent over $100,000 furnishing the twins' nursery. The world will be watching as Jolie and Pitt welcome yet another baby. However, according to psychologists even a life of wealth and power does little to prevent the inevitable challenges of keeping love alive after baby. But recent research reveals that fathers may be the key. Here to tell us more is TXA 21 Contributing Psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: Why is having a new baby so hard on a relationship?

Dr. Sylvia: The sustainability of a relationship is always challenged when partners move to parenting, even if they have other children and tons of money. Half of all divorces occur during the first seven years of a marriage. There are approximately 3.6 million babies born in America every year and their introduction into a family rearranges the entire distribution of resources-- time, physical energy, etc. Parents end up fatigued and irritable and fight over everything.

Q: What happens to the romance?

Dr. Sylvia: Parents, despite their exhilaration in having a new baby, begin to neglect their love affair. They feel unappreciated, neglected and misunderstood--hardly components of sexual desire. Especially for women, romance and sex begin in our thoughts and when there is relationship tension, sex is the first thing to go. In two thirds of American couples, relationship satisfaction plummets dramatically with the introduction of a child. Even with Angelina and Brad, things could get tense.

Q: With young couples, who loses sexual interest first?

Dr. Sylvia: A lot of studies talk about how the woman is tired, resentful and uninterested in romance after nine long months of pregnancy and the arduous nature of delivery. Indeed, women are more apt to report low desire with one in three women saying they are not interested. However, there is a new phenomenon with men withdrawing from the sexual relationship first. A lot of guys are shutting down due to feelings of anger, neglect and lack of respect. One in seven men now say they are not interested.

Q: What happens to the baby as the marriage struggles?

Dr. Sylvia: Babies suffer mightily. In fact, babies reared in distressed homes (2/3 of American marriages of challenged at this stage) suffer developmentally and lag behind other babies in happier homes in intellectual and emotional development. Especially in young couples, relationship stress can be overwhelming and the baby is a direct recipient of all that tension. With an unhappy parent, there can be some degree of emotional neglect and the child fails to learn appropriate self-regulation of emotions.

Q: What is the key for young couples with children?

Dr. Sylvia: There are several important items:

1. Excluded Dads: For centuries, dads have not been a part of the female inner circle that surrounds baby in the first few weeks. Often times, they then overlook the magic of being a caretaker to a young baby. Ninety one percent of fathers now witness the birth of the baby.

2. Men Working Harder: Marriage and a new baby propel men into achieving more at work and they transform their fears about their new role into providing. They are working longer hours and harder than ever.

3. Fathers Are Great Playmates: The developmental research teaches us that fathers are some of the best teachers in the world. Their play is more interactive, noisier and more rough and tumble. They help the baby learn self-control, safe risk taking, and self-confidence.

4. Learning Compassion and Empathy: Dad's involvement is a real advantage for learning empathy. One of the best predictors of empathy is dad's involvement with their kids at age five. Even adults in midlife can credit much of their success socially to dad.

Q: Any advice for our young couples?

Dr. Sylvia:

Watch Harsh Start Up: Couples under siege escalate quickly. There is a huge correlation between physically "boiling over" and relationship dissolution. Take a time out if your heart rate surpasses 100 beats per minute because at this point, you can no longer listen effectively.

Men Flood Faster But Women Stay Angrier Longer: Contrary to conventional wisdom, men anger faster and more intensely than do women. However, women hold on to stressful conversations longer (a full 24 hours longer according to research.) If you are carrying a grudge, make sure you settle the argument on the same day to avoid damaging your confidence in your partner. How you think about your relationship has everything to do with how much you care about your relationship.

Take the Time: Without a doubt, the biggest relationship mistake couples make is to neglect their partners. Even well intentioned couples place the relationship behind the kids, the career etc. with disastrous effects. The way to fall in love "over and over again" is to spend undivided time with your spouse. We recommend fifteen hours per week for couples to spend in undivided attention.