Prioritizing Your Relationship After Baby

The arrival of your little one brings about so many emotions — happiness, excitement, anxiousness, overwhelm and sometimes, even resentment toward your partner. A huge adjustment like a new baby can add strain to a relationship, and you’re not alone if it happens to you. In fact, research done by the Gottman Relationship Institute in Seattle shows that two-thirds of couples become unhappy with their relationship within three years of having a child. But don’t worry! With a little extra effort and time, your relationship after baby can be stronger than ever.

 

Why the trouble?

Juggling the challenges that come with a new addition to your family can all put some strain on your relationship:

  • Financial discussions
  • Lack of sleep
  • Limited time for each other
  • New responsibilities

But most of the trouble comes from both parties being unaware of what the other one is going through. Parenthood comes with challenges for everyone, and being aware of those goes a long way in maintaining the happiness of your relationship.

New Mama: After giving birth, many new moms can feel overwhelmed, exhausted and secondary to their new baby, which can often give a (temporary) loss of identity. This can also be paired with body image issues, as new moms are going through a lot of changes adjusting to postpartum life.

Partners can help in all of these areas simply by being more understanding, offering support and reminding mom of her individual worth.

New Dad: After the little one arrives, dads can often feel left out and isolated as mom’s attention is diverted toward taking care of the little one. With a little extra attention, dad can feel more valued and appreciated during the period of adjustment.

What can we do?

Find time to spend together. Carving out time each week to spend together is great for the health of your relationship. While time is hard to find with a newborn, time spent talking about your week, watching a favorite television show together or even sharing some conversation over takeout can be beneficial. It doesn’t have to be a fancy date, just some time with the one you love.

Address finances early. Getting the money talk out of the way before baby arrives is a great idea. This keeps the stress level to a minimum, and will make sure you’re both on the same page with decisions. Will you be a SAHM? Will you go back after maternity leave? What will your monthly budget look like for your little one’s arrival? Crossing all of these bridges early will be a huge stress-saver.

Make an effort to maintain intimacy. Sex can be the last thing on your mind after having a baby, and that’s okay. But maintaining a sense of intimacy in other ways is great for your actual health and the health of your relationship. Even if it’s just a much needed hug after a long day, staying affectionate with your partner is good for both of you.

Seek help if you need it. There are counseling services just for situations like this. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options — there’s no shame in seeking some additional help, and it will be a great reminder that you’re not the only ones that have been through this.  

Feeling tension is perfectly normal and can be inevitable with new stress, lack of sleep and general overwhelm. But there are ways to handle it and get your relationship back to feeling normal!  

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