How to rekindle your marriage after having a baby. Your baby is finally here! You’ve moved from a family of two to a family of three in a whirlwind. It’s been wonderful and you’ve been full of excitement diving into this next chapter. However, it has also been exhausting and full of worry. These aren’t exactly ideal emotions to cultivate in a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, maintaining a marriage post-baby takes a lot of time and energy. Basically, the two things you don’t have much of right now. But by working on your relationship, it will only grow. Here are some tips on how to rekindle your marriage after having a baby!
Figure Out Your Parenting Styles
You and your partner may have discussed parenting styles before the arrival of your baby. Yet saying and doing can be completely different things. Even if you were both on the same page before, that won’t necessarily reign true once you are on sleepless night number four. And it’s not exactly ideal to learn that your spouse can’t deal with your child’s tears when you favor a sleep-training method that involves your child crying.
There will be times your parenting styles clash. One of you will become the more-stern parent, while the other tends to give into the first signs of distress. One of you will want more order while the other is more go with the flow. You and your partner need to become aware and considerate of how the other functions. Otherwise, resentment will start to flourish.
One way of resolving these issues is letting the other spouse deal with the consequences of his/her method. If your partner let your baby take a nap at 5 pm, he/she should be the one staying up with the baby until all hours of the night. And you may want your child to play in specific areas of the house, but you also want to get household chores done. You may learn sooner rather than later that letting your baby play in the laundry room as you fold clothes may be a small price to pay.
This method only works in certain instances though. There are specific guidelines you need to follow for things such as when to start trying solids. Make sure to talk to your pediatrician for their recommendations.
You’ve probably heard the phrase that after a baby, “You have sex half as often, and it’s twice the hassle.” It’s not that you aren’t in love or attracted to your partner anymore. It’s that you’re always tired and never in the mood. But according to Carol Ummel Lindquist, Ph.D., author of Happily Married with Kids, you need to actively try to get in the mood. “The best way is to plan time for having sex. Sure, people joke about making dates for sex, but remember, when you were dating, you did plan when you were going to have sex. You got ready for a night out and thought about it beforehand.”
Try splurging and get a sitter. Take the time to actually get ready. Get dressed up. Go out to your favorite date spots from before you/your partner was pregnant. Get a sitter. Flirt. Remind each other of why you fell in love and wanted to have a baby in the first place!
And for the times you just can’t get a sitter and go out, make sure your bedroom is baby-free come bedtime. Nothing kills the libido faster than stepping on a toy caterpillar that starts to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star…
What used to be couple time is now family time. You’re technically always together now, but you’re never actually alone. No matter how you and your partner came about having your child, making this transition is challenging.
There are two important aspects to this solution. First things first, you need to schedule time together to rekindle your marriage. Make sure to plan specific times to discuss household and childcare related issues. This can include things like doctors appointments or what stroller to buy. This way, you can actually focus on your relationship on your dates. They won’t be taken over by baby talk and you can enjoy the conversation topics you used to share together.
The second part of the equation is making sure you get the alone time you need. Taking time for yourself isn’t a bad thing! By taking care of yourself, you are better able to take care of everything else. You need that time to recharge and refresh, otherwise, you’ll burn yourself to the ground. Make sure each of you is able to continue doing the hobbies you love – like your book club or going to the gym. And know that you may need to compromise so you can both get the self-care you need.
As much as you love your parents and in-laws, there may come a time when they become too much. Grandparents, while good intention, can often stress new parents out. They often ask for a lot of time with your new baby. Sometimes they go as far as thinking they should have access to your lives 24 hours a day.
You have to set boundaries. And you need to know it’s okay to say no to them when necessary. And we know that can be hard. Especially when they have been so generous in helping you through this transition. But you have a right to tell them no when you need alone time. Otherwise, you fall right back into exhaustion and resentment.
You also have the right to ask your spouse to talk to his/her parents when they are making you uncomfortable. Kids are often able to connect with their parents in ways that in-laws just can’t. This also helps let your partner in on the things that make you upset. With so much new chaos going on, he/she may not even realize something is bothering you. And for the grandparents who always seem to show up at the worst possible moment, schedule visiting times preferable to you and your baby’s schedules. Remember you can always deflect an invitation by needing to check your calendar.
It makes the world go round, and it matters way more than you thought. It’s a huge stressor in relationships – whether there’s a new baby or not. You can’t take it out on the baby or the situation. So more often than not, this stress get’s released onto the spouse. And that’s the last thing you want to do when trying to rekindle your marriage after having a baby.
The best advice is for the couple to take a step back. They need to have a candid and vulnerable conversation about what they want for their family, future, and selves. One tip is to try living on one salary for six months while you are both working. Put the other paycheck into a separate account to create a safety net once the baby arrives. After the trial run, you’ll be able to determine all the issues you ran into while living this way. You’ll have an idea how tightly you need to budget and how to actually live on that budget. Not to mention the nice chunk of savings you acquired during that time.
Like parenting styles, this will be full of compromise and trial and error. As long as you continue to prioritize honest and open communication, a solution is always possible.
Need Help to Rekindle Your Marriage?
As always, please discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. This could be your family doctor, your OB/GYN, or a public health nurse. If you are a new parent, we want to remind you of the critical importance of sharing how you are feeling with your partner and family.
If you need help and support, know we are here to do just that. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling have two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you navigate how to rekindle your marriage after having a baby.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Kristen Brozek is a masters level therapist with a degree in counseling psychology from Chatham University. She believes everyone has their own unique story to tell. Some of those stories are fun and exciting, and some of them are scary and difficult to share. It is her view to aid you in expressing the many stories of your life, as they help to define where you have been and where you are going. Her clinical experiences include working with those suffering from substance abuse, depression, anxiety, relationship and family struggles, grief, bipolar disorder, paranoia, and PTSD. She focuses on aiding individuals in identifying their personal strengths and utilizing the skills they already possess to overcome the daily struggles that life brings with it.