Marriage after baby can be a struggle. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that having a baby can put a little (or a lot) of stress on your marriage. After all you are both simultaneously going through the biggest life changing, life giving, sleep depriving, overwhelming experience at the same time.
You’ve gone from pretty much living life on your own terms to now having the shots called by your eight pound bundle of joy.
Well meaning strangers told you your life was going to change once baby arrived. They said be sure you go on dates now because marriage after baby is totally different. Or, make sure you get all the sleep you can before baby comes. Like either of those can be stock piled (Oh, how I wish they could).
There’s nothing like on the job training to really teach you what all those well meaning strangers meant. Once baby arrives you are instantly aware (maybe even a bit in shock) of how quickly your life has just changed.
It’s not all about you, your husband or your marriage. You now have a little life that you are both responsible for and that is all consuming. A blessing but also consuming.
Marriage after baby is going to be different. It’s going to take time to adjust and figure out your new normal. But, I’m here to tell you that all the challenges I’ve mentioned can ABSOLUTELY make your marriage after baby better than marriage before baby.
But, it’s going to take work. Like anything worth having, you have to work at it…hard. You both need to actively be on board and aware that you are not going through this huge life change alone. I do see how marriage after baby could fall a part if you didn’t do this one thing.
We learned early on that if we wanted to stay bonded and close together as a couple we had to communicate.
#1 Way to Keep a Strong Marriage After Baby
It sounds so simple and it is but it’s not at the same time. We often just assume our spouse knows what we are thinking. But we all know what assuming does (wink, wink). So, I say communicate about all the things!
Communicate About Everything!!!
Communication is key, right! That’s what they say and it’s 100% on point! When you are new parents you have to communicate with each other. I’d even go as far to say over communicate. You need to communicate about…
How You’re Feeling
You both need to talk about your feelings. Your roles in life have instantly changed and it’s normal to have all the feels. You need to talk about how you’re feeling about your…
You’ve just undergone your biggest life change ever. It’s normal to have feelings about it. Tell your spouse what you think about your life change. They are the one person in this life that you can talk to judgment free. We all know that having a baby is the greatest gift we can be given. It’s also the greatest life change so you need to talk about it.
Husbands may feel a little jealous of your new baby. The baby is suddenly getting all of the attention that they once got. Your man needs to communicate this to you, so he doesn’t harbor it and eventually form a grudge.
You may feel annoyed at your husband because he’s not helping the way you thought he would. Communicate! You have to tell him. I guarantee he doesn’t know what you thought he would do. So, tell him.
All the Emotions
So. many. emotions!! And hormones. This one is for both of you but a little more for the woman. Because I mean she is the one who just went through the most physically demanding experience of her life and is now trying to nurse (if that’s your choice) while healing from labor and bonding with her baby.
Tell your husband how you are feeling. It’s not good to keep all your emotions in. When you are inside your own head it’s easy to start telling yourself you are the only one that feels the way or you are a bad mom because you don’t want to breastfeed.
Tell your spouse about them. Talk them out. Sometimes once your bring light to some emotions you are having they don’t feel as heavy.
Let your emotions be something that brings you together instead of pushing you a part.
What You Need
We all have basic needs and you want your spouse to feel like they are getting what they need. But you know what? They can’t give you what you need if you don’t tell them. You need to communicate what you need and when you need it. Some things I needed…
I’m sure you’ve heard this by now but sleep is a hot commodity. You may not be getting much when your baby first arrives. I was not!
Don’t be afraid to tell your spouse you need some sleep. Remember sleep is not a want, it’s a need. Sleep is a basic function we need as humans so we can stay sane.
Take turns sleeping. Dad can sleep while mom nurses. Then mom can sleep while dad holds baby. When you’re not in the thick of it, it seems so logical. But, I’m telling you when you are sleep deprived nothing seems logical. So, tell your spouse you need sleep!
Communicate about the amount of support you need. Again if you don’t tell your husband or wife that you are needing support with breastfeeding, how to hold your baby or how to soothe your child. They won’t know. You can’t read each others minds.
Being a parent does not always come naturally. So, tell each other where you need support. You can help each other with things that might come more naturally to one than the other.
Related: How Dads Can Help with Breastfeeding
This one is so important and I still struggle with it (because mom guilt). But, you need some “you time.” Time to step away, breathe, refresh and recharge so you can go back and be the best parent and partner you can be.
You’ll know when you need it. That’s when you need to tell your spouse. Don’t ignore the feeling when you need “you time.” Take it from me. If you push passed it you’ll get to an unhealthy place and just break down. Speaking from experience.
Your Expectations vs. Reality
We tend to romanticize moments in our life. Thanks Hollywood and all the sappy movies. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m all about thinking the best of life and the moments to come. But, I’m also saying it’s okay if your reality is different from your expectation. You just need to verbalize that to your husband or wife. How your expectation vs. your reality is different with your…
Connection to Baby
Talk about how you are feeling with your connection to your baby. It’s normal to not feel an instant connection, like in the movies. But, you need to be comfortable with verbalizing it so you to internalize that guilt and then take it out on your spouse.
However you are feeling about your connection is how you feel. There is not right or wrong way to feel. But it is important to talk about it so you know you are not alone.
Connection to Each Other
This one is huge! Don’t silently struggle. Tell your spouse if you are feeling disconnected from them. After all most of your conversations will be centered around your baby for a while (as they should be). But, you also need to tell each other when you need to connect with each other.
If you think you are ready and need a date communicate that to each other and make it happen. Remember to be spouses first, then parents.
Another big deal is your daily schedule. The mom usually (but not always) is the one in charge of the day in day out schedule of the family. She might be used to doing everything when it’s on her schedule and how she does it.
For example might bathe our son with a wash cloth and my husband doesn’t. Instead of this causing a fight because aren’t the biggest fights over the stupidest things. You can do two things:
- Tell him why you use the wash cloth and ask if he will too.
- Tell him what you do and let him decide what he wants to do(I’m horrible at this).
I know this is a silly small example but the point is to communicate about how you think things should be done or how you do them. While also allowing your spouse to do things his way and communicate that to you.
My husband and I are both communicators so most of these things came naturally to us. But, don’t get me wrong we still had our ridiculous fights or sleep deprived induced break downs.
The point is you don’t need to go at it alone. You have each other and you need each other now more than ever before. It’s okay if you feel crazy as a new parent. Just feel crazy together!
Having a baby can absolutely make you stronger together and as an individual. Just remember to communicate about everything.
Also know that things will regulate, you’ll figure out a rhythm and you will go on a date again!