Let’s be honest. After you bring your little bundle of joy home, your entire life changes – especially the relationship with your partner. Where once you were a couple that was focused on one another’s needs suddenly becomes a triad where you are both focused on your baby’s needs while dealing with personal and relationship responsibilities. This period has been termed “one of the biggest transformations in a relationship.” With all the daily demands like nursing, changing diapers, consoling, you may find that you have little to no time for your spouse. As such, you and your partner have some major adjustments to make as you find yourselves having less and less time together.
In fact, in 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 55% of relationships suffer serious issues including divorce or separation if they had the baby within seven months of confirming their relationship legally. More marriages survive if the couple wait at least 8 months before getting pregnant. On the same vein, studies by Relationship Research Institute located in Seattle reveal that two-thirds of couples experience relationship declines after the birth of their first child while 13% of all marriages surveyed ended in divorce for couples who married around the time the baby was born.
As you already know, some of the common problems of this transitional period include:
- Lack of time for self and for spouse
- Financial burden with the new baby
- Lack of sleep
- Baby blues and tension from postpartum depression
Of course, all these studies are moot and academic if you both work on your relationship. You could be one of the lucky ones who live out the rest of their lives in marital bliss with a wonderful family!
You see, the good news is that this transitional time doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship as it was when it was just you two as a couple in a fantastic relationship. Instead, it can be a time to grow and become stronger. However, you have to work at making your relationship work. You have to carve out special time for one another if you want to keep the home fires burning strong.
Here’s some tips to strengthen your relationship:
Go On a Date Night As If It’s Your First Date
Remember when was the first time you fell in love with your partner? Perhaps it was during your first, second or hundredth date. Either way, you most likely enjoyed romantic dates with your partner and they definitely strengthened your relationship. So, you must keep them up. You must commit to making your relationship your priority and date nights are a great way to do that. Schedule time to go out on a weekly or monthly date so that you keep your love alive. Allow your parents, in-laws, a trusted relative or loved one to watch your baby so you can rekindle passion and keep the love fire burning strong.
However, keep these following tips in mind:
For the male partner:
- Your wife or female partner might be feeling insecure about her postpartum shape. She may have gained some weight and not been able to lose it yet. Make her feel like she is beautiful but don’t give false or empty compliments – she will know when you are speaking from the heart or not!
- Be on time. Don’t make her wait. Give her flowers or chocolates. Put your mobile phone on silent mode and give her your full attention.
- Avoid talking about depression, weight issues, lack of parenting skills, how much sleep you don’t get – or any other sensitive issues that might trigger an argument
- Dress up for your date. Plan the date. Don’t be too casual about dating – at least not all the time.
- Be gentle. Her sexual drive might not be ready for a passionate end to your date night. You might want to treat the date as you would a first date – lots of suggestive touching but waiting for her cue that it would be okay to go “all the way.”
For the female who just gave birth:
- Don’t stress about your added weight, if any. Approach a stylist if you want and get some advice on how to play up your best features and have a make-over. This will give you confidence although understand that it’s window dressing – your husband or partner is with you because of who you are – not just because of how you look.
- Your husband or partner is on tippy toes about the date – in all probability – just like you are. Be sensitive to his needs and keep expectations real. It may not be a fairy tale date unless you see it as a date with the one man you love and treasure regardless of anything that may have happened that could have upset you before and after the birth of your baby.
- Enjoy and keep it light.
Meet Your Partner’s Needs
Although you have a baby to care for, you still must meet your partner’s needs. Spend quality time with your partner. Make it a point to share intimate details of your life that don’t focus only on your baby. Instead, ask about his/her day. Be involved in his/her life and demonstrate to your loved one how much he mean to you. For instance, if your partner enjoys cuddling, make time to cuddle after you put your baby down for a nap or bed. If your partner needs some sexual attention, give it to them!
A person in a relationship has many needs:
- Physical needs – favorite foods, sexual intimacy
- Safety needs – comfort, security, honesty
- Emotional needs – love, kindness, companionship, affection, compassion, empathy
- Psychological needs – self-esteem, loyalty, respect, strong and mutual moral foundation
- Actualization needs – support for one’s dreams and aspirations, maturity, healthy life balance
Communicate With Your Partner
One of the most important things in a relationship is communication. Make sure that you keep the lines of communication open and are not always focused on your baby’s needs. Yes, you have to take care of the baby but you also need to nurture your relationship with your partner. This can be done by connecting with him on a daily basis. Ask him about his day, challenges and triumphs. Stay involved in his life and let him know you care. By staying connected to him, you will enhance intimacy and passion and demonstrate how important he is to you!
Communications is difficult at best especially if you have to talk about how you feel. Aside from challenging topics on emotions, the actual act of verbalizing how you feel is tough. Sometimes, the words don’t rightly express how you feel or it comes out wrong and is received and interpreted as an accusation or criticism.
Some of the fundamental communication issues you may be facing and should address include:
- Hearing not listening – We hear each other but we hear the voice, the complaint or accusation but not the message. We look at the body and angry gestures but not the plea behind the message. According to the University of Minnesota, the difference between hearing and listening is listening involved concentration so one can process the sentences and words. In a nutshell, you have to be consciously aware to listen – not thinking of other things and pretending to listen.
- Inability to express oneself clearly
- Being disrespectful and using hurtful words
- Refusing to listen to the other and just want to be the one talking
- Nitpicking – Focusing on the small, inconsequential or unavoidable errors of the other instead of talking about the main issues
- Refusing to talk, would rather agree to anything and everything because of a phobia for conflict or having to open up and communicate
- Refusal to take the concerns or messages of the other as important. Everything’s a joke or insignificant!
- Forgetting to tell each other how important he or she is in your life. Saying “I love you” whenever possible!
If you have a communication problem with your spouse or partner, the root cause is usually a lost connection. The relationship has broken down. You don’t know him and how he feels and he doesn’t know how you feel as well. To fix this (if it has broken down or about to break down) you can follow the following recommendations:
- Avoid being fixated on one issue. If he has hurt you in any way, find a way to deal with it before you communicate with him or you will end up in a heated argument
- Listen to each other
- Find something light to talk about. You can watch a movie and talk about it after. This is one way to slowly become more comfortable with each other without pressuring either party
- Be open-minded
- Avoid passing judgment and being quick to an emotional reaction
The key to restoring good communications is to nurture it from each other.
Start Leaning on Each Other for Support & Giving Support to Each Other
Ask for help. Volunteer your help. Be observant about your partner or spouse. Tired? Offer to take over baby duties and give your spouse a night or day off. If your spouse has an idea on how to care for the baby, clean the house, do the laundry, different brand of baby product to buy, or app to use – listen and give it a try!
Don’t be offended if you ask for help and he says “No.” He probably has a reason so instead of getting upset, work out a solution. Also, learn to ask respectfully rather than demand for help.
Treat Time with Your Significant Other as Precious
Yes, having a baby in the house is tiring and will eat up most of your time. However, make sure to schedule some alone time with your partner. Ideally couple time alone should be at least once a day but reality will tell you this isn’t possible. That being said, make a commitment to spend some couple time at least once a week even if it’s just cuddling in the early morning hours before baby wakes up.
If you can’t find time for each other, then resolve to write each other short love letters. And if you can’t find the time to write a letter, do what the Gen X kids do – pick a great love song and send the lyrics a few lines at a time through SMS! You will both have loads of fun doing this!
In conclusion, challenges with your partner are inevitable when you have a newborn. However, if you make your relationship a priority, go out on date nights, communicate with your partner, and meet their needs, you can definitely enhance the passion and the romance.