Being a parent is hugely rewarding and fulfilling but it can have a dramatic effect on your relationship. The early years can be hard and demanding, Channel Mum found that six in ten parents weren’t prepared for the impact their baby would have and wished they had baby-proofed their relationship. It is possible to become so focused on the new arrival that you can neglect yourself, your couple relationship plus other relationships and before you know it you are going through the motions rather than thriving.
According to Psychology Today chronic sleep deprivation can have lasting effects on our health and anxiety levels. You can’t talk about a newborn without these two words ‘sleep deprivation’, they go hand in hand and the lack of sleep in those early months can really affect day to day life. You can become irritable and unreasonable and often end up resenting the partner who seems to be getting more sleep. A good solution might be to share the night feeds and night wakes, if you are a breast feeding mother ask for a little lie in on the mornings and on weekends take a nap together whilst the baby naps. You don’t need to do it all alone, accept help when it is offered whether that is letting someone clean your house, make your family a meal or letting you sleep whilst they watch the baby. It can make all the difference to your health, mood and relationship.
Sex and Intimacy
“People can’t be just tied together. They have to connect. Otherwise, they’ll find themselves bound hand and foot.”
― Ai Yazawa
Intimacy is crucial to affirming your relationship, finding ways to express this both inside and outside the bedroom is essential to overcoming the post-baby lull and keeping you close. Not knowing how to express your needs can be difficult as you go through a change. “Not tonight I am too tired” is commonly said but you lie awake next to them wondering what to say and wonder if you will ever get back to normal. Talking is key, if you are comfortable with having sex let your partner know.
If you aren’t ready for sex, intimacy can be found through a cuddle, holding hands, or texting each other romantic things in the day. You can use humour to laugh and connect at a point where sometimes you want to cry, however through all of this, try to be aware and read the signs to decide when to be affectionate especially when stresses are heightened.
Date nights are important to connect as a couple again. If you can get a baby sitter, try and have one night a month where you dress up and feel great about yourself and have a nice time with your partner. If you can’t get childcare cook a special meal or have a takeaway at home, turn off the television and dress up for the occasion to make it a real treat. It is okay to leave your baby for a while and spend some time working on your relationship.
Roles and Responsibilities
You were husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, John and Kate, the social couple, the entertainers, the dinner party throwers but now you are those things plus parents. Your demands have increased and your time seems to have decreased, your roles are changing.
The once trivial jobs such as housework, food shopping and cooking are now big issues that potentially cause arguments. Not only are you adjusting to the biggest role that you could never have prepared for, your entire roles are also coming under fire.
Typically one partner may be adjusting to life being spent at home looking after the baby, taking on the domestic responsibilities which can be lonely and they may resent the fact that the other is still going out to work and keeping up their hobbies. It can seem like nothing has changed for them while their role is to care and feed. The working parent can often feel side-lined and jealous that the other is doing everything for the baby. When two becomes three (or four if you have twins) the transition can be and it becomes easy to feel rejected or feel like they aren’t as good a parent as the other. It is important to remember that whilst that baby is your main priority you both have your own needs and they shouldn’t be neglected.
Make time to talk when you are both calm and try not to criticise or blame the other. Explain how it makes you feel , your partner may not have noticed these things and in time you can make more an effort to be on the same page.
The message to take away here is that communication is key, be kind and listen to your partner’s perspective, laugh when you can, cuddle when you can and leave the jobs that aren’t important.