Love after baby: 6 changes to your marriage no one escapes
Posted May 16, 2016
Updated May 17, 2016
By the time I had discovered we were pregnant I had read at least a dozen baby books. I felt very prepared for the months ahead of me including signing my husband and me up for birthing classes. We had waited several years before getting pregnant and felt that it was time to grow our family.
These are 6 aspects that books, family or friends cannot really explain to you. You just have to experience them:
1. Baby does not fit into your existing life easy
When our first child was born, I assumed that we would be back to rock climbing and mountain biking in a few months or so. We had bought all the latest backpacks and baby care items so that we could pack her right into the canyons with us. We had determined that we would not be “those parents” that gave up our high paced life for childrearing. But we were wrong.
The second that little one entered the world, our life changed in so many ways. She became the most time consuming, wonderful activity we could have asked for. Instead of spending lots of time together as a couple scaling mountains, our life now revolved around playdates, snack time and reading bedtime stories.
Take the time to discuss what you would like your new life to look like. Do you want to be the boating family? Hiking and biking family? Music and art family? Sporting family? Or a good mixture of all of them?
This is a good discussion to have with your spouse because both of you will set the stage for your child’s growth and security. Remember to set the pace to your little one. As she or he grows up, your activities will too.
2. High stress/ no sleep
I thought I had been tired before, but nothing could have prepared me for the sleep deprivation I was about to experience. Not only do you have a new baby with new caretaking responsibilities, but that small being also wakes up every few hours all night long. The stress of learning how to care for a baby, and the lack of sleep starts to wear on nerves. This can result in irritation and frustration within the marriage.
Saying “please” and “thank you” are usually forgotten at 3 am. Both partners need to make a conscience effort to bring back the kind words. The turning point for us after many tiring weeks with much tension was a simple, “thank you for getting the baby.” After a while it just became habit and still continues today when the majority of our nights are diaper/feeding free.
3. You don’t work on your relationship anymore
This one should be addressed as much as possible or at least remedied as soon as you both are able. With the busy changes going on in your home, it is easy to forget the original relationship of you and your spouse. Keep in mind that the health of the family is reflected within the foundation relationship, so if you two are struggling, they are too.
This is why it is so important to make time for your spouse and remember marriage is a relationship. This can be in the form of a ‘date night’ each week or even just a ten minute time period each day that you and your spouse can discuss enjoyable topics with minimal interruption (we usually wait until the kids go to bed).
4. Less sex
There is nothing that will squash a sexy mood like a crying baby. There are multiple contributors to this phenomenon but the good news is that it doesn’t need to be forever.
First you are getting much less sleep with the combination of much more stress. This alone will mess with your sex drive and hormones. Second, for you ladies, your body has just gone through a trauma. I personally feel that childbirth is an amazing experience and makes you feel like a superhero, but your body takes a beating in the process. So know that you will need to get used to the new you after baby.
Be kind to yourselves and know that you will need to settle into the new routine of baby and recuperate from childbirth. Taking time to focus on your spouse and enjoying each other non-sexually is important to rekindling the bedroom magic. Remember there is no shame in discussing concerns with your doctor or seeking a therapist who specializes in sex therapy. You want to make sure that both parties are ready and feel comfortable with reuniting sexually.
5. You have no free time
Zero- I really mean no free time. Even if you have free time, it’s not really free time because you have one child asking for a bowl of cereal and another trying to get into whatever activity you’re engaged in. Or if, for some reason, you do find the time to get away from the kids, all you do is seem to think about the kids.
Find, organize, and beg for free time- it is necessary for a parent's sanity. When you do get that free time, make it count. Really be mindful of what you are doing and focus on who you are with. This time is to take care of you. You become a better parent and partner if you are able to function as a separate unit from the kids. Some personal free time activities could be shopping (for fun not grocery), getting a massage, or having lunch with a friend.
6. Being a parent is amazing
It is very difficult to describe how incredible being a parent really is. This huge change for you and your spouse can bring you both closer than ever and create a bond you never thought possible. My husband describes this shift in a beautiful way. People without children are getting a delicious four course meal without dessert. When you have children, some meals can be tough on the palate, but then you get the dessert- the best part! We call them million dollar moments because these spectacular memories may only last a moment or two, but they are worth so much more.
Keep changing, talking, loving, experiencing and growing. Because these are the significant times in your life that you (and your children) will always remember.
Jessie Shepherd, MA, LCMHC is a Mental Health Therapist at Blue Clover Therapy, LLC in Utah. Learn more at blueclovertherapy.com