Becoming parents brings a lot of joy, but with it comes a lot of stress as well. Communication between partners can break down, and they can often begin to drift apart. According to research published in Demography, 73 percent of surveyed parents expressed decreased happiness after the birth of their first child. Continue reading to learn how exhausted first-time parents can rejuvenate their relationship.
In fact, it may seem next to impossible to reconnect as a couple and rekindle your romance after having a baby. However, with a little patience and effort, you can get your relationship on track and become a stronger couple.
Get on the Same Page
Research indicates first-time parents argue 40 percent more after the birth of their baby. Some arguments start because you are both exhausted and irritable, so try to talk about important topics when you aren’t completely worn out. Open the lines of communication by pausing and listening to your partner’s point of view, rather than snapping or blaming. Whether it’s caretaking duties, finances, parenting decisions, or your in-laws that are the points of contention, take some time to hash it out. You might need to negotiate or even compromise, but at some point, you need to get on the same page with your partner and move forward.
Find Time for Intimacy
For some new moms, their sex drive is diminished after the baby arrives. For other parents, Kindred Bravely explains that they have fears or anxiety about having sex after childbirth. Whatever the reason, it’s important to stay intimately connected with your partner, even if you aren’t having sex as much as you did before the baby was born.
If you are so exhausted that you fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow, it’s important to squeeze in some couple time at other points in the day. If you are both at home on the weekends, use baby’s nap time to spend some time with each other — whether that means cuddling up to watch TV or holding each other while taking a nap. Right after the baby’s in bed, don’t hop on your computer or phone — hop on the couch with your partner instead. Talking, laughing, and touching are intimate ways to bond and reconnect, even if you aren’t having sex.
Have Realistic Expectations of Each Other
With the changes in your life and the constant sleep deprivation, parenthood can be extremely difficult during your baby’s first year. Trust that you and your partner are both doing the best you can under the circumstances. Be realistic about the situation; neither of you should expect your house will be as clean as it used to be, your sex life will be as lively, or your free time will be as plentiful. Show your appreciation for what your partner does for you, the baby, and your household. If you do argue or treat your partner harshly, apologize quickly and sincerely.
Make It a Date
Date nights don’t have to be long or expensive — just an hour or two each week to enjoy each other’s company without any distractions. Whenever possible, try to get a sitter and go to your favorite restaurant, hang out at the beach, bike around town, or attend a sporting event you both enjoy. If you can’t find someone to watch your little one, plan a date night at home. After the baby’s in bed, you can eat by candlelight, have a picnic on the floor, or make s’mores in the fireplace. You can play board games, do a puzzle together, or munch on takeout in bed. Simple times with someone you love are often the best times.
Yes, parenthood can be exhausting, especially in the first year of your baby’s life. However, in order to be the best parents you can be to your new baby, you need to make your relationship with each other a priority. Find the time for intimacy, treat each other with kindness, and tackle problems together as a team. Although you might not have as much couple time as you did before your little one was born, it’s the quality of that time that is the most important.