Fact: Marriage before baby and marriage after baby are two totally different animals. Even if you’re exhausted from feedings, diaper changes, and a total lack of sleep, you’re probably also basking in some serious baby bliss. The result? The lack of attention leaves your partner feeling left out—and maybe even resentful.

How to keep the spark alive.

What’s important in your marriage after baby

No, it’s not all about sex. When it comes to maintaining a strong marriage after baby, in the early days, it’s just as important to focus on acknowledging and communicating with each other, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in New York City. Sometimes, that’s as simple as taking five minutes to share your morning coffee or sending him a quick text at work after you put your little one down for a nap.

Advice for marriage after baby

Address the lack of intimacy
Sex during pregnancy might have been great, but now that you’re up five times a night and are still getting used to your post-baby body, sleep is probably more appealing. And that’s okay, as long as for the time being, you find other ways to stay connected, says Greer. Plan a date night (even if it’s hanging out on the couch with pizza and a movie) or ask your partner for more help. If he watches the baby while you can get some sleep, you’ll have more energy to get busy tomorrow night—making marriage after baby more satisfying for both of you.

Don’t push him aside
If your partner’s been at work all day, he’s likely craving some attention from you when he gets home—even if it’s just a quick kiss or a few minutes to talk about his day. An important piece of advice for marriage after baby: Even if you’re busy with the baby or just aren’t in the mood to talk, avoid brushing him off, which will just reinforce his feeling that he’s been pushed to the bottom of your list, says Greer. Instead, offer to talk over dinner, or asking for a few minutes of quiet while you put the baby down. It’s a subtle shift, but one that makes a big difference.

Make little gestures
When you’ve got a newborn in the house, the little ways you used to show affection can sometimes temporarily get lost, says Greer. If he loves a certain coffee, try picking up his favorite brew, or DVR the show he never has time to watch at night anymore. By showing that you’re still thinking of him, he’ll feel loved and appreciated, and that’ll make a big difference in your marriage after baby.

By Nicole Pelletiere

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