Introducing a baby into the family can be overwhelming and put unexpected stress on the relationship with your partner. The effects of sleep deprivation, combined with a sudden deficit in time and shift of priorities, often blindside new parents. If seemingly benign chores like changing diapers have put your marriage on the outs, try these tips to reconnect.
Make time for dates
Spending time alone with your partner is necessary to keep the romance alive. Go on a date within a couple weeks of bringing baby home if you can. It establishes a pattern with your partner. And when you’re out together, do not talk about the baby. A healthy relationship affects your baby’s happiness and health. When mom and dad are stressed, baby is stressed. So make it a priority to spend some bonding time with your spouse.
Get some sleep or sunshine
Sleep loss is one of the four main sources of marital conflict, according to John Medina, author of the book Brain Rules for Baby. One way to counter this is recognizing the pattern and and taking measures to fight it.
Health care providers often tell new moms to sleep when their babies nap. And if you can’t find the extra time to sleep, go outside for some sun. A study released in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows people who live in outdoorsy states with a lot of sunshine are happiest.
Communicate with each other
As with anything involving relationships, communication is the key to survival. There are bound to be misunderstandings between new mothers and fathers. Parenting is an entirely new skillset and there’s a learning curve for everyone. Make time to address your thoughts, fears and ideas with your partner — that can head off many looming fights.
Divide chores and childcare duties
Things were easier in the 1950s, when the American family had designated gender roles. Nowadays, the modern family is expected to share household work. Figuring out what is fair and what is easiest will stave off unmet expectations.
If you had a C-section, it’s more realistic for your spouse to do chores that require physical exertion such as walking the dog, lifting the car seat and vacuuming . However, if your husband works 70 hours a week, you’ll likely be doing more of the household maintenance.
Spend time with friends and make an effort to be social
A common source of tension for couples who have recently had a baby is isolation that results from sudden drop in social activities. Friday and Saturday nights are no longer spent at the bars with friends. Instead, and especially in the beginning, fatigue and baby’s schedule dictate the parents’ routine. Baby takes and the parents give.
Make it a priority to see friends once in a while, whether it be for a quick coffee or to have people over to your house for dinner and wine. This will alleviate some of the pressure on your relationship and take your mind off baby for the time being.