How to Maintain Your Relationship After a Baby
Intimacy takes a back seat to sleep when all you and your partner can think about is how tired you both are. A new baby is a strain on any partnership. Here are some suggestions on how to maintain your relationship after a baby.
Divide and Conquer Tasks
When both of you are staggering around in a state of total exhaustion, it’s easy to get into arguments over scorekeeping. Who did the most changings, who did the laundry or the dishes, whose turn is it to take a nap? Find some time to sit down and plan with each other, so you don’t waste time bickering over who does what. Keep the discussion specific, fair, and free of accusations of slacking. List what needs to get done and divide up your tasks. Ask for help when you need it, but leave the complaints out of it. “I’m extra tired today, could you give the baby a bath?” goes over much better than “you never help at bath time!” Perhaps your partner didn’t know their help would be welcomed.
Exhaustion adds to irritability. Part of your plan should be a sleep schedule you both can agree on. You’re lucky if one of you is a natural night owl and the other a cheerful morning person, but accept the fact that neither of you is going to get a solid, uninterrupted 8 hours’ sleep for several months. When your infant’s routine settles in with naptime, bedtime, and feedings occurring at regular intervals, figure out who gets to catch up on sleep while the other catches up on work, reading, or some me-time.
Accept Different Parenting Styles
Unless your differences are over a serious issue of the baby’s health or safety, learn to accept that you will have different styles of interacting with your infant. One of you may prefer a lot of floor time, but shouldn’t leave tidying up the toys afterward to the other person. Try not to micromanage each other’s style. If you have a major conflict over something that drives you nuts, sit down and talk about it, but let go of the things you can tolerate.
Realize that becoming a parent is very different for the two of you. Everything from your own upbringing to your gender has created expectations about what your role as a parent is supposed to be. Both of your lives have changed profoundly, and it is tough for both of you. A baby changes a new mom’s life in different ways than in a new dad’s. Recognize that each of you has made equally valuable sacrifices.
Talk and Touch
Communication is critical to maintaining any relationship. No matter how it looks to you, it is important to make time for intimacy in all its forms. You came together because you love each other, so make time during the week to sit with each other and remember what makes you click. Date nights will come again someday, but for now, just showing that you love and appreciate each other goes a long way in maintaining your relationship after a baby.