Having a baby may change your relationship with your spouse. Find out how you can manage this change for the better.
The transition to parenthood will undoubtedly change the dynamics between you and your spouse. Many couples experience a strain on their relationship after having a baby. In fact, research has consistently shown that there will be a period of decline in marital satisfaction while the new parents adjust to their new roles. Learn how you can rebound from this slight relationship “road bump” and strengthen your marriage.
Among the reasons that can contribute to the deterioration of the relationship in the initial stages of parenthood are:
- Spending less time with your partner.
- Changes in communication pattern.
- Unrealistic expectations between spouses.
- Postnatal depression and decrease in self-esteem.
It Does Matter
A healthy, happy relationship between parents greatly affects a child’s emotional, cognitive and behavioural development as children learn from examples parents set. Here are some ways on how you can cope with your new responsibilities whilst maintaining a healthy bond with your spouse:
- Parenting together. Two is always better than one, so do the parenting tasks together. For example, give your baby baths together. Being able to share these precious moments with your child together can do wonders to deepen your bond with your spouse.
- Communicate more. The more you communicate, the better. It helps clarify your expectations of each other and reduce conflict between spouses. Feeling uncomfortable to voice out? Use other outlets such as writing down what you feel. Your other half deserves to know what you are feeling.
- Relive the pre-marriage days. Go on dates, just the two of you, like you used to in your courting days. Plan a romantic dinner at a favourite restaurant or catch a romance comedy at the movies. Surprise your spouse with love messages or flowers. Enjoy those pleasurable moments as it will help the both of you keep in touch as a couple.
- Look after yourself. Recovery from birth takes time and doesn’t always happen as quickly as anticipated. Make an effort to lead a healthy lifestyle together with your partner. Do light exercises together and take regular, healthy meals. Try some relaxation techniques. When you are healthy, you will feel happy and your baby needs just that from parents.
- Be realistic. Do not expect too much of yourself too soon or push yourself to fulfil your spouse’s expectations. Help your spouse to understand that you need help for tasks and responsibilities you are not able to cope with, especially when either of you are on your own after the birth.
- Get help from others. Talking to someone else can be a relief. If you feel uncomfortable sharing the experience that you have been through with friends or relatives, counsellors or therapists can be a better option. They will be able to help you understand any present discomfort and anxiety and make you feel better about yourself.
Hard Pressed for Time?
Your baby’s arrival could mean that you now have less time for yourself and your spouse. Here are some ideas on how you can earn a little more time with your spouse:
- Call in the troops! Get somebody to watch over your child while you and your spouse get out of the house to reconnect. You may feel reluctant to leave your child at first, but appreciate this well deserved time-off.
- Seize the moment. Resist the urge to turn on the television or focus on your work each time your baby settles in for a nap. Instead, use these moments to snuggle with your spouse or enjoy a meal together. It is in these simple moments that you can “find” time.
- Little efforts. Small gestures like leaving your spouse little “love notes”, giving each other daily hugs and kisses or gentle touches and rubs can go a long way in your relationship. These may not take a lot of time, but they can leave a lasting effect on your spouse’s mind.