It’s no secret that the birth of a baby brings significant changes to a relationship. But do you know just how much it will impact your life as a couple?
Research studies show that “67% of couples report a decline in relationship happiness for up to three years after the birth of a first child.” That’s a significant number of the parenting population.
This decline in relationship happiness happens for a number of reasons. Romance and intimacy decline, as stressors rise. The birth of a baby brings major lifestyle changes: no more sleeping in, impulse purchases, relaxing weekends, or spontaneous trips. Depression, anxiety, and hostility can also increase in couples with the birth of their baby. And normal pre-existing responsibilities become stressful because your life has drastically changed.
But the good news is, there’s extensive research on how to stay connected with your partner after your baby is born. Read on to learn how you and your partner can avoid that negative impact.
Staying Connected After the Birth of a Baby
Maintain a friendship with your partner
At the beginning of your relationship, you took an extreme interest in your partner—their likes, dislikes, and the inter-workings of their personal life. This is part of what made you fall in love with them. The longer you and your spouse have been together, the more inclined you may be to forget about all these minute details. But it’s important to remember that these little details add up.
If you feel like you’re growing out of touch with your partner, check out my June 12 blog "The Best Relationship Tip Ever? Pay Attention To Your Partner!" for help getting back on track.
Discuss your stressors with each other
Unfortunately, we all deal with stress—an overwhelming job, an annoying coworker, struggles with friendships, and now the frustrations of having a newborn baby.
It’s important that you and your partner vocalize these stressors that occur outside of your relationship. Making your partner feel heard and understood will forge a stronger connection between the two of you. Sharing your struggles with your partner invites them into your life and creates the feeling that you’re “in it together.” Schedule a daily 'check-in' time - making it a ritual helps you stay connected.
Approach conflict in a gentle manner
Conflict is known to bring out the worst in people. When you’re feeling fed up, upset or in a bad mood, your automatic response may be to exhibit extreme anger towards your partner. You might be tempted to place blame or to bring up irrelevant issues from the past. But this will only elicit defense and reciprocating hostility from your mate.
Instead of approaching conflict like this, practice more effective methods of conflict management. Stay calm and try to understand where your partner is coming from. Use “I” statements and express the way you feel instead of using accusations. For more help, take a look at my August 14 blog "How To Apply Conflict Management Skills In Your Relationship".
Maintain a positive focus
It is human nature to focus on the negative. It takes conscious effort to instead observe and acknowledge what your partner is doing right. But it has a definite positive impact on your relationship. Express gratitude by thanking your partner often and expressing specific appreciation for what they do for you and your newborn child. When you create a culture of respect and kindness in your relationship, it will lead to a more happy and harmonious home... and a great foundation for your new baby.
Get into the groove
The birth of a baby will require you and your partner to establish a new groove. All of your together time suddenly becomes “family time” as it now includes a newborn baby. While family time is incredibly important, it’s also crucial for your relationship that you spend time together as a couple.
Schedule date nights, coffee on the patio, or evening walks for just the two of you. Snuggle on the couch together in the evening. Remember to nurture your couplehood just as you nurture your new baby.
It’s also important to have “alone time” or time spent without your partner. Encourage your partner to have a night out with friends or to spend a few hours on their own. This will help recharge so they’ll be a better version of themselves when you’re together.
Remember, staying connected after the birth of a baby is not only good for you as a couple but will also help your child in the long run. A strong marriage and family structure is the best gift you can give your offspring!