One of the most challenging aspects of the transition into parenthood that I hear about both from clients and friends alike is the new strain on your relationship. While you both are completely enamored by your new baby, you may also find that the addition of your little one brings forth feelings that you simply were not expecting. It is no exaggeration to say that having a baby is in fact life-changing.
Finding the time to connect with your romantic partner is paramount to maintaining a healthy relationship.
Here’s our top five recommendations for nurturing your relationship with a new baby in the mix!
1. Learn Your Partner’s Love Language
If you haven’t heard of the five love languages, this is an excellent time to do so! The five love languages, as defined in the book titled the same are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. By discovering your love language as well as your partner’s, you allow yourself the opportunity to both give and receive love in the way that is best understood and most appreciated within your relationship. While I recommend this tool for relationships of all sorts, this is particularly important for new parents when time, emotions, and exhaustion may also cause tension in your bond. You can find a quiz to help you identify your love language here.
2. Encourage Honest Communication
It’s incredibly important that lines of communication between yourself and your partner are open and honest. There may be feelings of resentment, sadness, loneliness, or frustration that are impacting your relationship as result of the transition into life with a baby. Generally, these emotions are normal, and are a part of the growing pains associated with parenthood. While normal, these things don’t need to overpower your relationship. Be honest with your partner about your wants, needs, and hopes for your relationship. Parenthood has the capacity to push your relationship to evolve in beautiful ways - encourage that growth with clear communication in the process.
3. Spend Quality Time Together
Especially when your baby is very small, it is easy to fall into routines centered about his or her care. While baby’s schedule may be important to you, try not to allow for it to consume you. Make the effort to arrange for time together as a couple, and try to limit conversation about the baby during this time. Focus your attention on your partner during this special time - it’s a great way to affirm your love and appreciation. You can get some great date ideas for postpartum parents here!
4. Don’t Neglect Physical Connection
While you might be tempted to place physical intimacy on the back burner after baby, I encourage you to do what feels comfortable for you. Physical intimacy may range from cuddling on the couch to exchanging massage. Keep in mind that intimacy does not have to equate to sex - even holding hands over coffee is an excellent way to connect physically. If sex is an important aspect of your relationship, and your doctor or midwife has given you the clear, then be sure to make time for this as well. You can find more tips on postpartum sex here!
5. Say “Yes” To Outside Help
Finally, treat yourself and your partner to the gift of helping hands. Call a friend, family member, or your postpartum and infant care doula to take over while the two of you spend some time together as a couple! Choosing to invest even an hour or two into your relationship can prove to be monumental in your emotional bond, and there are likely plenty of people who would be more than happy to enjoy baby snuggles while you do so. Keep note of willing parties, and take them up on their offers the next time you feel the need to get out and do something as a couple. You’ll be glad that you did.
It is my hope that with these five quick tips, you’ll better be able strengthen and nurture your relationship after baby!