It’s no secret that many mums and dads are often blindsided by the magnitude of becoming first-time parents. Indeed, even the most unflappable person can become unhinged following a baby’s birth.
But what many couples fail to realize is that stress, sleep depravation and emotional exhaustion can seriously damage a marriage.
Many couples experience declining romance and marital satisfaction after a baby is born.
Keeping your marriage on solid footing
Studies show that more than half of all married couples experience a decline in marital satisfaction following the birth of a baby. Furthermore, most couples report having eight times more conflict in their marriages after the baby joins the family.
Trouble is, finding time to cultivate your relationship with your spouse – without your little one wailing in the background – isn’t always easy.
If a weekend getaway or even a romantic dinner for two isn’t realistic, there are other do-able ways to keep your marriage on solid footing.
Head over to the next page for ways to keep your spark alive!
- Communicate positively with one another. In spite of the emotional ups and downs common to new parents, make a habit of supporting and encouraging your spouse. Scorekeeping, nitpicking and those niggling feelings of jealousy may be normal, but tearing one another down won’t go unnoticed. Sharing emotions and coming up with appropriate solutions is a key component to a healthy marriage – now and in years to come.
Spend time together!
- Make it a priority to spend time together. Whether it’s enjoying an evening walk, ordering take-away after the baby has gone to bed or grabbing a few minutes to talk over breakfast, try to find ways to engage in conversation that work for both of you. It’s easy to get hyper-focused on your baby’s day-to-day care. Still, having fun together as a couple will create a loving foundation for the whole family.
It’s a team effort.
- Maintain an overall sense of team. On top of issues like who will earn what portion of the income and who will do the laundry when, ease the parenting transition by detailing role responsibilities. Nagging one another about who should do the dishes – all while the baby is screaming to be fed – will only result in increased irritability. Rather, compromise with one another, maintain flexibility and work through expectations. If each person helps out, then you can avoid resentment and establish a united front early on.
Accept the intimacy changes.
- Understand that intimacy changes. It’s common for a new mom to experience sadness and frustration at the ways pregnancy, childbirth and nursing have changed her body. Fatigue and sleeplessness further complicate the physical aspect of many marriages. With less time and energy for sexual closeness, it’s crucial for husbands and wives to discuss new approaches to intimacy. As unromantic as it may sound, sex can be thoughtfully planned into your schedule. And don’t despair: you can rediscover that pre-baby passion.
Remember: Parenting your infant won’t last forever. Surely most moms and dads with little ones have heard the well-intentioned advice, “They’ll be grown and out of the house before you know it!” While this may be true, it may not feel like it during those first few years.
Nevertheless, you and your spouse will be with one another long after the kids are grown. So in the midst of 2 a.m. feedings and emergency visits to the pediatrician, keep in mind that this is only one stage in your long life together.
If you have other tips on keeping your marriage strong after having a newborn, do share them with us!
Used with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore. For more information on family life resources and workshops, visit www.family.org.sg.
© 2015 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.