By Nicole Pelletiere
Dirty diapers, spit-ups, and burping. Seriously, where’s all the romance gone? In the midst of arguing with your hub about who’s going to take the next 2 A.M. feeding, you might end up wondering about what’s happened to your marriage after baby—and whether things will ever get back to normal.
What happens to marriage after baby
There’s no doubt that kids change everything. “Having a baby creates new problems that couples never would have faced without having children in their lives,” says Michele Lisenbury Christensen, a relationship expert in Seattle, Washington. But guess what? You can get past marriage after baby problems, and you’ll likely come out with a relationship that’s even stronger.
And when you do, it’s not just you that feels better: One of the most meaningful gifts you can give your kids is to cultivate a happy relationship with your partner, Christensen says. Here’s how to tackle some of the biggest issues that plague marriage after baby.
Marriage after baby woe: End of the day frustration
If one of you stays at home with the baby, chances are you’re itching for some time off when the other one (who’s also wiped out) comes home from work, Christensen says. The result? Major nighttime tension.
For stay-at-home parents, a little acknowledgment goes a long way. If your sweetie’s a stay-at-home dad, text him a love note after you leave the house in the A.M. If you’re the one at home, let him know you need a break—and schedule a sitter so the two of you can have a night out.
Marriage after baby woe: No spontaneity, ever
Having a baby doesn’t leave much room for unplanned adventure, leaving the two of you longing for a little taste of freedom. You might not be able to pop out to meet the girls for a glass of wine at last minute’s notice anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Instead, recommit to the one or two bits of your past that you and your husband each desire most, and look for ways to make room for those in your schedule and budget. That might mean hiring a sitter for date night, or asking him to take the night shift once a month so you can meet up with friends.
Marriage after baby woe: The Captain-Lieutenant syndrome
Think just because you read What to Expect When You’re Expecting from cover to cover means that you’re the expert and your partner the assistant? Many women do, says Christensen. But that doesn’t mean it’s right—or that your husband’s happy about it.
Recognize that you and your partner are both leaders on Team Family. Encourage your husband to spend an equal amount of time on baby duty—then back off! (It’ll give you a much-needed break, plus promote dad baby bonding.) Another tip: Set aside time each week alone to talk about your current bed, meal, and play routines. If you don’t like something your partner is (or isn’t) doing, talk about it then—not in front of your baby.
Marriage after baby woe: Your sex life’s in the toilet
Sex during pregnancy was great. But now, you’re not feeling quite like your sexy self in the early weeks and months post-baby (thanks, breastfeeding, zero sleep, and pregnancy pounds!). And even when you are in the mood, there’s no better way to kill it than a crying infant.
Hard as it sounds, try not to let your new role get in the way of intimacy, which can breed resentment in your partner and cause big problems in your marriage after baby. If you’re not in the mood for sex (and that’s okay!), keep your emotional bond strong by showing affection in other ways, like cuddling or kissing. And if a little bit of confidence is all you crave, have at it. Hire a sitter, then go get a beautifying mani-pedi or a blowout.
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