Babies Change Everything
Having a baby changes everything about your life. There's no other way to say that. It just does.
You and your partner may have been looking forward to having children since before you were even together. Then you find out the news that you're pregnant and the excitement and fun begins… telling your families, picking out names and nursery decor, and buying all the things you need (and probably a few you don't.)
And then the moment the baby is born which is like nothing else, it even surpasses the rush of emotions that you felt when you said, “I do.”
And then, time passes in a rush and you're standing at the door of the hospital. Your brand new bundle of joy is strapped into a car seat and suddenly everything is overwhelming.
“Are we sure that we're ready for this?”
“We have to keep this child alive. Are we qualified for this?”
“Wait… put him back!”
Suddenly your entire life is about keeping that little bundle of joy… joyful.
Somewhere along the line, your marriage takes a back seat to the new life you've created. And that's normal.
But for many couples, this is the identifying moment in their marriage where the problems started.
As a couples counselor, I hear it frequently…
“After we had kids, he/she just changed.”
“It was like I wasn't important anymore.”
“She was always with the baby and didn't have anything left for me.”
“He was always at work and didn't understand how exhausted I was.”
“We were just so tired.”
When you're not careful with your relationship, it can deteriorate to the point where you are just parents and no longer lovers or even friends. Your partner becomes another item on a very long list of responsibilities you have to deal with.
But you didn't get married to divide chores, you got married to share your lives.
12 Tips for Keeping That Spark Alive
If you're wondering how to keep the spark alive, here are some tips that might help.
- Be realistic – If you're in the first few months of parenthood, understand the massive physical change your partner has gone through to bring your baby into the world. Pregnancy and post-partum take a toll. It takes time to heal and get back to feeling normal.
- Eye contact matters – Don't underestimate the power of looking your lover in the eye. It makes you feel more connected, which is sometimes difficult when you have responsibilities pulling you apart.
- Say I love you often – This seems so obvious, but taking just a moment to remember the love you share is vital to a healthy relationship.
- Make chores a team sport – There is nothing that builds resentment and exhaustion like taking on more than your share of household duties. Whatever works in your household, make sure it's working for everyone.
- Find time for each other – I know, it's hard. But ask someone you trust to watch the kid(s) and take some time to focus on each other.
- Date nights in – If you can't find a sitter, plan a date night at home! Try to plan something that allows you to connect rather than stare at a screen. Enjoy an activity that you did frequently pre-kids.
And, they get better…
- Games mean fun – It doesn't have to be a board game if that's not your thing, but games can bring an element of friendly competition that can revive a stale relationship. Download an app that allows you to play together or take turns.
- Cook together – There is something erotic about creating a meal together. Bonus points if you take turns feeding each other!
- Texting is private – If you're having trouble finding time for each other, texting can be a lifeline. And it's fun and private to have a provocative conversation where little ears can't over hear you.
- Send selfies – If they married you, chances are that your partner loves you in every state of being and doesn't even notice your messy hair and eye bags. Send funny faces or sweet moments to brighten your partner's day.
- Surprises fuel passion – Old favorites like flowers and chocolate are always nice, but opt for something thoughtful for more impact. Need help? Think of things your partner has had to give up since becoming a parent.
- A little romance goes a long way – Something as simple as lighting a candle or setting up a bubble bath for your partner can change the whole dynamic of an evening. A no-strings-attached backrub might be the exact thing your partner needs to relax into a more receptive mood.
Build A Quality Marriage
Overall, these ideas share one thing in common. Effort.
A long and happy marriage isn't built overnight and it can't be built with one or two big ticket items. It takes years of small, daily effort to build and secure a relationship that will withstand “for better or worse.”
Last but not least…Don't stress it! The last thing you need to do after having a baby is stress out over loss of intimacy and cause even more tension. It's important to remember that the two of you are a team and no matter what comes your way, it's not you vs. your partner, it's you two together vs. the problem.
The best thing about being in a marriage is; it takes two but it also rewards double. Raising children is stressful and can take away a lot of time that you had to focus on each other, but you also get to devote yourselves to a new life you've made together.
Raising a family will make you closer while also pushing you to your limits, and keeping an open line of communication is key to balancing and restoring that trust and love. It's the little things that will make the biggest difference.