Maintaining a Healthy Relationship After a Baby Has Been Born
it’s so important to look after your relationship after having a baby. The temptation can be to let it drift down the priorities list – after all, you have so much other stuff to worry about. But, when you think about it, it’s at times like this – times when you’re feeling stressed, vulnerable and confused – that having a strong relationship is most important.
So what can you do? Well, there are no super easy answers. But there are a few key things to consider.
Let’s start with the most obvious. Most couples find that they get quite a bit less sleep in the first few months after having a baby. And less sleep means less energy, less patience and more chance of having an argument.
Now, couples may be affected differently by this. You may be one of the lucky couples whose baby is able to sleep through the night, with no problems. Or you may not. But there is one thing you can control: how you work together.
It’s imperative you treat the problem of sleep as a team. A lot of this comes down to communication and planning. Agree on how you’re going to do things when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night. Talk about taking turns.
Talking is one of the most important parts of any relationship – and, as such, becomes even more important after you have a baby.
Talking isn’t necessarily about coming up with practical solutions to any problems (although this can obviously be a really useful thing to do). It’s mainly about reconnecting, feeling close and checking in with one another. Talking gives you a chance to express or find out about anything that you or your partner is finding difficult or worrying. It gives you a chance to speak and to hear.
If you feel like you don’t have time, try your hardest to make some. That might mean setting aside half an hour at the end of the day to chat in bed. Or to have breakfast together. Or just going for a walk once a week. Anywhere you can really settle into a proper conversation.
Likewise for negotiating around difficulties. It’s really important you’re able to communicate openly about any issues you’re experiencing, so you deal with them together. Your partner may feel you haven’t supported them in a certain way. Or you may you aren’t working together on problems – that a distance has arrived between you. Or perhaps you aren’t sure what’s wrong – you just feel things are a bit off.
Being able to say this stuff directly to each other – and work together to address it – will be crucial as you work your way over the bumps in the road this journey will (almost) inevitably feature.
With so much less time on your hands, it can be really useful to develop a knack for planning ahead.
Part of maintaining a healthy relationship is making time to have fun together – so you might like to think about putting aside some time to do just that. Much is made of the idea of ‘date nights’ – where you go out and do something together – and those can be really fun, positive ways to build some variety back into your schedule and spent quality time together. But if you’re feeling totally zonked, you don’t have to feel obligated to go out. Sometimes, a ‘date night’ can mean a relative looking after the baby for an evening and you and your partner staying in and cuddling up on the sofa.
Likewise, planning things doesn’t have to mean planning big things. It can mean planning little things too – like spooning in bed one evening. Or having a phone call. Or – and we know this can sound a little clinical – sex!