Hi friends, today, we have Melanie from Less is More Living, and she will be sharing an article about how to keep your marriage strong after having a baby. I know, and you know, that relationship with your spouse changes when the baby arrives. And it is important to keep your relationship even stronger after having a baby.
How to Keep Your Marriage Strong After Baby
Every single trite, sappy thing ever written about having a baby is entirely right. Having a baby is a beautiful thing. It is a miracle. It is love in a way that you have never known. Holding that little angel and looking up at my husband at what our love created, it was a total Hallmark commercial.
However, the next couple months were rough. I had an awful time nursing and was drowning in my own feelings of frustration and inadequacy. Suddenly my life wasn’t my own and everything blurred into diapers and feedings. I felt overwhelmed all of the time. We both weren’t sleeping and our patience – not our best quality at the best of times – was growing increasingly thin.
My husband was a rock, and in my clearer moments, I knew that. He was the king of the swaddle, the champion of diapers and a place of refuge when I was insecure. In my more sleep-deprived moments, my husband was literally the most irritating and grating person in the world. Every word, every touch and every look rubbed me the wrong way, and I sniped at him constantly. From his point of view, I was terrifying – the woman he had married had morphed into a nagging shrew with the disposition of a Gremlin fed after midnight.
Apparently, this sort of thing is typical. Studies have looked at relationship satisfaction between couples with and without children and the decline in relationship satisfaction is twice as steep for couples with children.
So is that it? Is the price to pay for having children giving up a strong marriage? No – although your relationship will undoubtedly change, you CAN keep it strong when your baby is born.
This starts BEFORE the baby arrives. Sit down and talk about what is important to you. What kind of support do you anticipate needing from your spouse?, Sorts of parenting decisions are important to you?, Role do you want others – especially in-laws – to play?
These are all really important questions, and you need to get on the same page when you are less hormonal. It will honestly help avoid all sorts of misunderstandings and arguments if you get everything out in the open. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Once the baby does arrive, keep the conversations going. Talk about things beyond the practical. Have conversations that run a little deeper than “Did you pick up diapers today?” You are not going to have a lot of time but take advantage of the little moments that are there to really get to know your partner again.
And LISTEN! As the saying goes – we have two ears, and one mouth so listen twice as much as you speak. There may be something that your partner is bothered by that you are completely missing (especially since your relationship radar is a bit distracted these days).
Say yes to the support around you. A friend offers to pop by so you can have a nap? Yes – do that! Your mom wants to do your laundry? Throw the hamper at her and run! This is not the time for you to be Miss Independent. Say yes to each and every bit of help that comes your way and accept the support. That nap may only be 30 minutes, but it is going to give you the chance to recharge. A recharged you will be in a way better place to connect with your spouse.
When our little guy was two months old, my mother watched him while we went out for lunch and it was the greatest gift we could have received. It doesn’t seem like much but the chance to be alone, enjoy a meal and talk without a dirty diaper in sight really helped us to reconnect our relationship.
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Obviously, your sex life is going to take a little pause – especially as you heal – and will not be the same for a little while afterward. Your body just went through something huge. However, that doesn’t mean that the physical side of your relationship goes out the window.
Focus on the little things. Hold hands. Kiss. Make out like a couple of teenagers. Cuddle. A hand on the shoulder when you are stressed out speaks volumes. All of these little physical contacts reinforce your marriage. They give force to the words of love you are saying and reinforce your connection. Do not let it fall by the wayside in the sea of everything else going on.
Give Yourself A Break
My friend often tells her teenage children that you cannot properly love someone else until you properly love yourself. If you treat yourself with kindness, sympathy and allow yourself concessions for your less than great moments, you are going to be able to handle your partner in the same way.
If I were being honest, when I accused my husband of thinking I was a bad mom, it was not his fault. It was me feeling insecure and thinking that I was a bad mom. The pressure that we put on ourselves is enormous and ridiculous. So take a deep breath and give yourself a break. It is a really big change, and it is perfectly fine that it is going to take some time to adjust.
Resign yourself to the fact that this is not going to be like diaper commercials. You aren’t just going to stand around cooing at your baby, taking turns cuddling and sweetly singing them off to sleep. For a little while, your house is going to be a mess, you’re going to be broke, and you’re going to be so, so tired and cranky. That is normal, and it is fine.
Having a child changes your marriage – no question. However, it can bring great changes – it can give you the chance to develop patience, self-sacrifice and a stronger bond with your husband.
Melanie is an aspiring stay-at-home mother to one beautiful boy, a wife to an incredible man and a food provider/friend to the cutest dog in the world.
She aspires to one day have clean laundry, the ability to do a proper push-up and a baby who doesn’t spread oatmeal in his hair. While she waits for that day (that may never come), she also has a blog.
Her mother always said: it is simple to complicate your life, but it is always complicated to simplify it. Having learned how true that is, she is setting out to enjoy the simple things of life, embrace frugality and live a simple life.
Check out her ongoing adventures at www.lessismoreliving.ca. You’ll learn about how to cut your baby’s fingernails without having a heart attack, how to treat a dog’s upset stomach at home and that you can use hummus on pizza (amongst other things).
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