Even the most functional relationships become strained after having a baby, or after the arrival of a second or third child. Your sleep is disrupted. There is less time for you as an individual and for you as a couple. Your relationship becomes transactional as you negotiate new and demanding responsibilities, not to mention ongoing and new stressors. Staying connected to your partner will help you navigate these challenges and ensure that your relationship is vital when the kids get older.
Here are some helpful tips:
Self-care: Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your child and still have energy for your relationship. Stay connected to yourself. Manage your energy wisely. Ask for help. Accept and receive help. Learn to say ‘no’ when necessary. Prioritize healthy and nurturing activities. Get help with childcare so that you can do something fun or catch up on errands and other responsibilities. Allow yourself to do less. Let go of being perfect. Ask yourself “what are my desires, values, and needs?” and “what do I need to do each day or week in order to feel good?” Your answers will help you discern ways to take care of yourself
Take care of each other: You and your partner need time to nurture yourself as individuals so that you are fulfilled when coming together as a couple. Make time for each of you to get a break and encourage each other to engage in fun, meaningful and healthy activities.
Plan dates: Plan weekly or biweekly dates either in or out of the house. Make dates a regular and ongoing part of your calendar and treat them like a doctor’s appointment that you would not cancel.
Nurture intimacy: Physical intimacy facilitates a healthy emotional connection. Schedule time and plan dates to be intimate. Daytime or early evening may work best so that you are not too tired. Be creative! There are many ways to be intimate. Set yourself up for success by preparing to feel sexy. In the book Great Sex for Moms, psychiatrist Valerie Raskin explains how important it is to gear up to being intimate. For example: go for a workout, have a bath and put on sexy lingerie or clothing.
Communicate Openly: Be honest about your needs and emotions to avoid build up of anger and resentment. If you feel underappreciated, overworked, sleep deprived or resentful because you don’t have enough time for yourself, let your partner know. Ask for emotional and/or physical support, depending on what you need.
Prioritize: Focus on the most important tasks or stressful factors in your life. For example: work on finances and budgeting if this is a concern and let go of decorating or shopping, that can wait until you have more time.
Divide Labour: Make a list of chores and responsibilities and assign yourselves to those that you enjoy most. Let go of the chores you are not in charge of. Make sure that each of you are active with childcare. Be mindful not to micromanage. Outsource when you can: hire a personal chef, cleaner or babysitter.
Couples counselling is a safe and confidential place to voice concerns, explore issues, mediate discussions, learn effective communication strategies and deepen your connection.
Hold me Tight by Sue Johnson
Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin
Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller
Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller
The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal by Renee Peterson Trudeau
Great Sex for Moms by Valerie Davis Raskin
Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch
Intimacy and Desire by David Schnarch