Let’s face it, being a parent is hard work. Rewarding yes, but that doesn’t make the sleepless nights and constant diligence any less difficult to handle. Baby responsibilities aside, being a new parent can also be quite stressful on a marriage as well. Your relationship is never the same after a new baby comes and many couples complain that their marriages suffer after a new baby comes into the picture. Research even shows that the transition into parenthood is one of the largest stressors on a marriage (Neff 2011) and as such it’s important to have the necessary skills to keep intimacy alive even after a baby enters the scene. Here are a few tips you can implement into your own marriage to help you and your spouse stay close while trying to adjust to parenthood.
1. Have an idea about responsibilities even before the baby is born.
Take the time to talk about who will help with housework, midnight feedings, and meal plans before you’re faced with the issues. This will lead to a lot less conflict later.
2. Understand that parenting styles might be different.
Your partner might not always react to a situation the same way you would, but if they’re trying and what they’re doing seems to be working, don’t intervene. You need to give each other some credit and trust that you are both competent parents.
3. Step back and find the root of the problem.
Lack of sleep can make us all a little crazy, so before you snap at your partner for something trivial, try and step back from your anger and figure out what’s really bothering you. You might just be irritable. Try to remember that little things really aren’t worth fighting over.
4. Make time for each other.
Babies might seem like they can take up an entire day but it is so important to still take time out of your day to just be with your partner. Plan a date night sooner than later. Even sitting and talking with each other when your baby is finally sleeping will do wonders for your marriage. Remember that it’s also important to talk about things besides your baby. You’re allowed to have a life outside of being a parent.
5. Show affection for each other.
Give each other a quick kiss while passing in the hall, hug each other, and cuddle whenever you can. Sex can be a big issue at this point but it’s important to be patient with each other and communicate your feelings. A woman can typically have sex again 6 weeks after delivery but it can still be painful and exhausting. Take your time with foreplay, and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t lead to sex. You’ll get back to a state that feels right and normal for you.
A happy marriage will lead to a happy baby so please don’t underestimate the importance of being there for each other as well as your baby. The two of you are in this together, so be honest, patient, and communicate as much as possible. A baby is a wonderful gift, and is a great addition to a family, just don’t forget to make time for each other as well.
Neff, L.A, & Brody, E.F (2011) Stress resilience in early marriage: can practice make perfect? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 101, 1050-1067.