Why is there so much talk about romance dying and marriage stress after the arrival of a new baby? Shouldn’t having a baby after waiting for nine months be a joyous occasion? A baby is definitely a bundle of joy, the problem is a baby is totally dependent on the parents and requires a bundle of time, energy and love too. Can first-time parents cope with caring for a baby and keeping their couple relationship strong? First of all, this is a phase all couples have to go through, unless you have two helpers (one for the chores and one for the baby) and even then, there are still changes to expect in a couple relationship.
Suddenly no time is idle time; translate to, there is no time for chilling at home, watching TV or enjoying conversation with your spouse. Even if you want to watch the TV, you’d wonder if it is good for your infant to watch alongside! Time is precious and there is much work to do – your office work, household chores, babysitting duties and when all is done, your baby either needs a diaper change or there are new things to wash up.
By the time everything that needs to be done is done, likely both parents are spent. Whether the spouse is working or stay at home, both will be more tired than before the new baby.
This is even trickier and much depends on the foundation of the relationship before the baby’s birth. For a relationship which is already laden with miscommunication or dissatisfaction (with sex or the endless possibilities one can find faulty with the partner), a baby will elevate the tension and resentment so much more.
Given the challenges, below are three tips to keep the couple relationship healthy and strong.
1. Date Night/ Me-Time/ Off-Day
Lack of time and space get on everyone’s nerves – just think about a packed bus or train and immediately one feels like shouting ‘Give me Space!’. The increased in chores and time needed with the baby may get to one parent more than the other. Work out date night for the couple (equals to finding help for a few hours), or give each other time off or an off day. Recharging batteries can make a person so much better – think a more loving and happier spouse after his/her off time!
2. Believe Love is Alive
Even when sex takes a backseat or the mom doesn’t feel good about her post-pregnancy body, believe that the love is in your relationship. New ways can be sought to show love, like spending time to ask about work/well-being, being kind and patient with each other. Being attentive to spouse may be the only affection he/she is looking for during the trying first few months of baby.
3. It is Just Between the Two of You
It can be tempting to compare with other couples, like ‘Hey, her husband does the chores but I’m doing all of it.’ or ‘They still have sex every other day, look at us!’. Some couples take weeks while some take years for sex or family routine to stabilize. There is nothing to compare. Instead take time to work out the issues affecting the marriage – this is not just limited to sex or chores, but also parenting styles, family routine, financial/savings and what life means. Take each matter a step at a time and don’t let issues get in the way of your marriage.
No doubt it is hard work to care for the baby and sometimes, even harder to keep the couple relationship strong. Always remember that children grow up but couples grow old with each other – bring on that love!