I am not ashamed to say that after having a baby, my marriage did suffer – marital happiness suddenly eluded us. Needless to say, the birth of our daughter was a magical experience, but it was also a demanding one. Romance and intimacy fell last on the endless list of chores on our hands. The focus is to be efficient, not romantic- for obvious reasons. In the midst of all the chaos and joy, a marriage always suffers. Infact, research has it that 64% of married people feel concerned about their relationship after having a baby. And that is why it is important to know how to keep relationship strong after having a baby.
The transition to becoming parents from a carefree couple who has their weekends sorted is not an easy one. Sleep deprivation, feeding schedules and the endless demands of a newborn can cast havoc on any relationship – and ours was not spared as well. My husband was always around, helping with diaper changing, rocking her until she sleeps or making her sleep on his lap and helping me in whatever way he could. But that wasn’t enough. I longed to snuggle in his arms and tell him how tired and overwhelmed I was feeling. I couldn’t and that set me thinking, much later, whether our marriage has suffered because of a baby. Well. Baby does affect a marriage, and not just in the lovey-dovey ways TV serials and movies portray – but hard hitting ways where you start to harbour resentment against each other, snapping and arguing frequently, but never addressing the elephant in the room.
You wouldn’t want that to happen right? Or, if it has already happened, you’d intend to repair the damage. Like me. Believe me, the below tips on keeping a marriage strong after having a baby really do work. Try them out and watch marital happiness shine on you again.
8 Tips To Keep A Relationship Strong After Marriage
Even if you snub at making efforts to make your marriage rock-solid, or refuse to admit that your marriage is on the rocks, let me tell you one thing. A happy couple make great parent. Happiness is contagious and the most happy, well-adjusted children come from homes where parents are happy, in love and respect each other. Probably a huge reason to strengthen the bond with your spouse especially after you have a baby.
1. It is challenging, so accept it for both of you
No matter how rosy the world seems in TV ads after having a baby, the real fact is that once you have a baby, challenges are inevitable. You both will have hard time to adjust to the new roles – and it doesn’t matter who is feeding the baby. Harboring resentments at this point or playing the ‘I am doing more’ game will only worsen your equation for the future.
Don’t simply keep scores on what your spouse is ‘NOT’ doing, instead, keep a score on how much your partner is giving and how much more you wish to give in. This instigates a sense of doing more for each other rather than pulling the blame buttons. Remember, you are working to keep your relationship strong and bond with your spouse.
2. Not grand gestures of love, but little support
This is not the time to do or to expect grand gestures of love and romance. This is the time to be there for each other through this joyful yet chaotic time. Offering to help in small ways goes a long way to strengthen your marriage after having a baby. Maybe make a list of small things that you will do for each other everyday.
Small gestures of support will remind both of you that you are being cared for. That you are appreciated and respected for what you are doing. And that helps take your relationship a long way.
3. Listen to your spouse
When we are tired, exhausted, struggling and sleep deprived, it is always easier to talk more and more, complaining and cribbing and listen less and less. But imagine if you’d actually pay attention to what your spouse is trying to say. You’d get his or her perspective, the partner will feel acknowledged and his presence felt and you’d feel good for giving it to him or her.
Whether you are the primary caregiver for the baby or the one who is going out everyday to make ends meet, both of you deserve to be heard and prioritised – sometimes over the baby- to feel assured of his being there, in all of this confusion and chaos. Remember, the baby is because of both of you.
4. Schedule sex
To keep a relationship strong and solid, the role of sex cannot be undermined. Though it may not really sound uplifting, but scheduling sex is like the new foreplay for the parents. Trust me, it does help build the apprehension, the excitement and boost the heart rate. It may sound weird, but it actually is the key to retain intimacy in your marriage. And intimacy is one ingredient that will keep you connected through thick and thin times. Touch and affection can go a long way making you feel loved and wanted.
You don’t really have to get into the act if you are not in the mood, but just set some time aside every week maybe to just cuddle, hold hands, touch each other and plant random kisses.
5. Find the time to connect
With loads of things to attend to and a demanding needs of a baby, finding the time to connect may seem to be the last thing on your long list of priorities. After the baby comes in the picture, the way a couple showers love and feels intimate and connected also changes. The best is to accept the same, and find newer ways to connect and bond together.
Watch a romantic movie if time permits or order in food from your favourite restaurant. Accept help from relatives or friends when they offer to baby sit and try to find some couple time sans the discussion on feeding, pooping and anything baby.
6. Schedule weekly-check ins too
Every time I am exhausted for any reason, I end up cribbing and complaining and this soon takes a blame game turn and I end up creating a nasty situation. Over time, I realised that exhaustion makes me say things I don’t really intend to and I end up belittling all my husbands’ efforts in seconds. That’s not done for sure.
So now I breathe in and out and say that ‘we will talk about this on Saturday’. This helps me cool down for the moment and also gives me some time to reflect on myself as well as my husband. These weekly check-in meetings help me see things through other perspectives and at times I realise it really didn’t need my time. And if it is something serious, the focus is on finding a solution and not on labelling each other as unsupportive or unhelping.
7. Forgive each other
When we become parents, we also become compassionate and patient in nature – but that is only reserved for the baby. A baby crying for no reason may get much more attention from her parents then they give each other when one of them is going through a tough time. If the spouse snaps or is complaining about lack of rest, we only offer raised eyebrows and sarcasm in some way or the other.
If we could also ‘parent’ each other during this delicate time, the chances are that we will have a happy and peaceful environment at home. Show some compassion, some patience and a little forgiveness for each other rather than building theories on how it isn’t working anymore.
8. Compliment each other
A few encouraging, positive words can set the tone for an entire day or week. Make sure both of you compliment each other often – for anything and everything your partner does right or attempts to do. Apart from this, do offer praise and words of encouragement to each other as you struggle with parenting and taking care of the baby. Encouraging words reflect positively on a person and he or she is filled with renewed energy to carry out tasks with greater ease and efficiency.
Relationship after baby is not what TV ads claim and show. It is raw, unedited with both of you trying to switch from being parents to a couple and from being a couple to hands-on parents. The transition isn’t easy, but there is a lot of love that is around and that love will sure get you through these times as well. No fairy or magic is going to happen that will make your relationship feel rosy and cosy again – the hard work is on you, so do invest time in taking care of your marriage, the relationship that gave you your priceless possession – the baby.