The arrival of your first baby is an amazing, exciting experience for any couple. But what many couples don't realize is that it is often a huge shock as well. Life is never going quite to be the same as it was before the baby came. And, while you will get used to parenting over time, the sudden and unexpected change can put a strain on your relationship with your spouse. This is often simply because each spouse is trying to cope with the differences in his or her life. Thankfully, your relationship can stay happy and healthy, even while you deal with these changes. Below are four tips for keeping your relationship not just in tact, but growing, throughout the first stages of parenting.
Often, a new baby takes so much time and attention that couples forget one of the most important parts of any relationship: communication. This is not necessarily the couple's fault. After all, brand new parents are going through some major adjustments! Nevertheless, it will take intentionality to get back into the habit of actually talking to each other. It may help to write down things you want to talk about, so you can remember them when you actually have to time to sit down and chat. Take time to express fears and doubts to each other. Give each other encouragement. Discuss old special memories and plan fun adventures for the future. And always make sure to say, "I love you."
Help Each Other
Each spouse desperately needs the other. Especially after a new little person who needs to be waited on hand and foot invades the house. Couples should be able to work out a system so that the entire burden of housework and baby care doesn't fall on just one individual. Keep in mind that staying home with a baby, cooking, and cleaning can sometimes be just as exhausting as going to the office or the job site. Once a system is worked out, each spouse should try to go above and beyond to make the other comfortable. Grab a glass of water or a cozy blanket for your spouse, even if they don't ask. Chores and favors can be just as romantic as hugs and kisses!
Adjusting to a new baby is never easy. Anyone who has ever been a parent will agree. So you don't have to feel like you are bad parents if you admit you need help. Instead, you are being great parents by giving yourselves and your child necessary care! Don't hesitate to talk with trusted friends or parents about your new joys and challenges. Ask questions. Share your struggles. Listen to their advice. If people offer to babysit, clean your house, or bring you meals, graciously accept. Outside help can go a long way in easing a strained relationship, especially if the strain is brought about by sheer business and exhaustion. If you are finding that your relationship still feels tense, you should consider couples counseling. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Have Fun Together
Finally, find ways to hang out with each other that don't involve intimacy. New mothers really won't feel up to being intimate, and that is definitely okay. Instead, cook together, play games together, or do light exercise together. If you have a babysitter or family member who is willing to take care of the baby for an hour or two, go to a bowling alley or get dressed up and head out to a fancy restaurant. You can build your relationship just by having fun together, like you did back when you were dating! And always, always, always remember to hold hands, kiss, and snuggle. This is crucial in helping you maintain a happy relationship.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have, or if you simply need a listening ear in the middle of a tough time. I can help you overcome anxiety and reinstate peace into your life!