Does Your Marriage Seem “Flat” Since Your Baby Arrived?
You’re not alone. Research says that 69% percent of new parents will experience a precipitous decline in marital satisfaction in the months and early years following the birth of a child (Dr. John Gottman, Bringing Baby Home).
Parenthood is certainly a wonderful event, but it is also very trying on the couple.
Nevertheless, in about 33% of couples’ marital satisfaction remains the same, or even increases! So, what about those 33%? Do they know some secret that most of us don’t or are they just luckier than the rest of us? No one can say for sure, but there are some tips that can make the transition to parenthood smoother.
Tips for Your Marriage After Baby
- Make the couple a priority. The new little love in your life is extremely important and deserves your time and affection, but so does your partner! While your world may revolve around baby for a little while, having a strong and healthy relationship between the parents is the best thing that you can do for baby. Make time to let your partner know how important and loved he or she is. Start slow by watching baby sleep together or having talk time while baby is sleeping, but aim to work up to weekly dates (even if it’s only for an hour and you talk about baby the whole time!), and becoming intimate again.
- Talk about shifting roles. No longer are you simply husband, wife, or spouse, you’re also mom or dad! Talk about what that role means to you and what a good parent looks like. What do you expect of yourself and your partner in these new roles? What are your fears as a parent? How can you keep each other a priority? Family members are also shifting roles and becoming grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. How do you imagine their roles and involvement?
- Learn how to be a parenting team.Men and women play with babies differently, and babies need both types to fully develop. Learn how to play with baby together without competing for her attention and learn from your partner’s style of play. Make sure that both parents are involved in tasks like diapering, feeding, bathing, and playing. These don’t have to be done perfectly and working together (without criticizing methods that are different from your own) helps everyone feel involved and competent. Especially if this is your first child, take this chance to learn together! Laugh at your mistakes; even if this isn’t your first child, every child is different and there can be a lot of trial and error.
- Support each other.Welcoming a new baby to the family is a physically and emotional draining time. Both partners will be functioning on significantly less sleep and will have few mental reserves left. Throw in physical pains of childbirth, hormones, and the stresses and excitement of learning how to care for a baby and things can get pretty hairy. This is a time for both partners to be as supportive as possible of each other. Give back rubs, swap out nighttime baby duties, leave notes of affirmation, praise each other’s developing parenting skills, enjoy a warm bath together, take time to check in to see how the other person is holding up, ask what you can do to help, or simply say “I love you!” Don’t forget to give each other the benefit of the doubt and try to understand their perspective-stress and sleep deprivation can bring out the ugly side in anyone, but that doesn’t mean we are bad people! While some degree of sadness, stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed after childbirth, postpartum depression is a very real and serious issue. For more information on postpartum depression click here or call our office.
For more information on making the transition to parenthood, call our office to find out about the Bringing Baby Home curriculum for expecting parents and parents of babies to toddlers.