It is all too common for one or the other partner to feel the following after baby has arrived: “Why is my wife/husband/partner so annoying now?,” “Why do I hate my partner most days now?” “What about me?!”
The amount of time devoted to keeping a little human alive is exhausting, exhilarating, joyful, full of self-doubt (am I doing this right?) and….overwhelming at times. Where it all started- your relationship, no doubt has high potential to be neglected. We know we aren’t the only ones who often feel resentful towards our spouse or partner, have you?
While time is in high demand and short in supply raising little ones, here are our top four tips to keep your relationship alive.
No better time than now to reconnect.
(1) KEEP IT OPEN: Communication that is. So often words and new feelings that come along with the immense responsibility of a little one joining your home can get lost or withheld. Be ready to do both- share and listen. Ask your spouse or partner if they want you to just listen or offer to help troubleshoot/problem-solve. Sometimes, you just need a space to air it out.
Being open to communication and letting your partner know there is no “off limits” topics has HUGE potential for strengthening your relationship. A flood of varying emotions/fears/concerns are normal in this transition from person-hood to parenthood. By keeping communication open, you can help support one another and seek additional help if you’re struggling.
(2) Intimacy- none here these days! A couples’ sex life and levels of intimacy no doubt take a hit (sometimes beginning during pregnancy) after baby arrives. No one has had “good” sleep and where is time for myself much less giving to my spouse? She may be feeling “touched out” and he is wondering when it’s his turn to connect with her or may feel odd about the baby’s ownership over her breasts now. High potential here for a breakdown in the relationship. Understanding and communication again play a large role in keeping intimacy alive and sex likely. Talking about healing after baby, potential discomfort during sex, how she feels about her body now and how each other’s needs may have changed are all important to keeping the flame alive. Be willing to take it slow, talk with your partner and protect time for each other on a regular basis.
(3) I do everything around here. Things like “division of labor” and parenting choices can really come in to question when baby arrives. Things you never thought about beforehand are daily areas of discussion (or disgust) now. Be flexible; the whole “equilibrium” of your household has shifted. Caring for and raising a human all while fulfilling the other roles in your life can quickly become overwhelming. Be open to asking (without blaming) for help/support. Moms, take your superwoman cape off; it’s just exhausting you. Your spouse or partner is there as part of your “WE.” Dads and partners, don’t wait to ask what she needs but also be willing to ask what you can do to support her or take some things off her list.
(4) Take care of yourself. In order for each of you to be a healthy spouse/partner, you must also replenish your own reserves. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, spirituality and social relationships are some elements of doing so. While the quantity and frequency you have available right now may look different (and change over time), neglecting to care for yourself can be at detriment to your relationship.
Call us if you’d like to learn more about how couples counseling may be helpful in keeping your relationship healthy.