Becoming a parent is no jog in the park. A lot changes around you and inside the dynamics of your relationship. While having a baby can be one of the most pivotal and exciting moments in your life, it often takes a toll on your relationship. The journey from being lovers to parents isn’t as easy as it may seem.
With a baby comes a busier and more exhausting life. The first few weeks are the toughest to get through. Messy days and messier nights will make connecting with your partner seem like a mission impossible. But there are steps you can take to reduce the negative space and rebuild your relationship.
Tips to Connect with Your Partner – Life After the baby
First, this isn’t one of those articles asking you to go out on dates with your partner. Let’s be honest. Having an expensive meal, sitting across from each other, and checking every notification on your phone to see if it’s from the babysitter kind of takes the charm out of a date. Plus, it can be financially draining for many families, given the cost of having a baby and affording a lavish lifestyle. Not to mention tiring.
So, if “formal” date nights aren’t working for you, then here are ten simple tips to connect with your partner without ever leaving the house.
- Don’t wait for next weekend
There is no more perfect time to start than today. It’s easy to push your romantic relationship to the back burner to cater to the baby. Having a baby takes away the luxury of time, attention, and energy to invest in your relationship. But if you keep ignoring your relationship, it will become increasingly difficult to regain intimacy and feel connected.
- Start over
Accept that your relationship with your partner will look different than it was before the baby. On paper, a couple is expected to “get back to business” six weeks after delivery- that’s why we go to the doctor to get cleared, right? But this is usually not the case. Women go through so many changes physically, emotionally, and mentally postpartum. They might not recognize themselves and struggle with adjusting to this new reality. And they might be feeling touched out (which we’ll go into in another post). That is why starting over like you might have done when first getting to know each other can be really helpful. Hold hands, share small moments of affection (like hugs, cuddles, and kisses), and most importantly, enjoy the simpler things together before getting back to sex. Intimacy is not just about having sex anyway.
- Your child isn’t the only topic of conversation
A big mistake of many parents is making most of their conversations about the baby. Yes, talking about the baby is important, but remember that your partner needs your attention too and you have a relationship with each other that isn’t only about the baby. Ask them about their day over dinner or talk to them about their feelings. Catch as many meaningful conversations as you can. This will not only help you stay connected, but it will also foster your relationship outside of parenthood.
Click here for conversation prompts that DON'T revolve around your kids.
- Find what works now
At this point, it should be pretty clear that it is normal for relationships to change after having a baby. Similarly, the things that you and your partner enjoy and appreciate may also differ. Instead of sticking to the old ways of connecting, finding new ways of showing love can be really helpful. Think about what you already know about your partner and your relationship and what excited the two of you. Then try to find things to do with your partner on a deeper, non-superficial level that show that you “get them”- if you’re not sure, then ask! That’s a great way to make them feel seen and cared for. You can even have an at-home date night chatting over wine or tea about what your latest interests are, or how you can adapt old interests to fit your life now.
- Provide assurance and create a safe space
This one is especially for women who feel unattractive after having a baby. Understandably, all the changes you’ve gone through can lead to not recognizing yourself or a lack of confidence. At a time like this, women often look to their partner for reassurance. Partners- Try to be more aware and not make comments that could hurt her self-esteem. Give her compliments, send her random texts telling her you love her or sharing something specific you love about her, and make her feel that you are her safe space.
- Spontaneity may not work like a charm
Life before kids has lots of spur of the moment dates and spontaneity. After the baby, it’s another story.. Now you have to do everything according to the baby’s schedule. It can be challenging to navigate through this shift and figure out how to connect. Waiting for the right moment to strike when your eyes light up with heart emojis may not happen. Maybe the best time to have one-on-one time is on Saturday while the baby naps. So, talk to each other, communicate your plans for the night/day, and experiment with what timing works best for you. Always remember that communication is key.
- Try something new
You may feel like all you do is take care of the baby. If you feel your days are becoming monotonous, it’s time to try something new. It doesn’t have to be something big. You can try baking cookies together, washing dishes together, watch your favorite show, or switch up errands to strengthen your relationship.
- Sit together!
Having a baby is a full-time, demanding job. Taking care of the baby can take a toll on both your mental health and the health of your relationship. But sometimes all it takes is to sit “together” to help rekindle that flame and empathy towards each other. Try to look past each other's mistakes and maintain an attitude of respect, acceptance, and forgiveness. Make sure to set aside a few moments of your day for your partner. You can just talk without distractions or do an activity you enjoy as a couple.
- It’s the little things that matter
Grand gestures are great, but they’re not the easiest to make happen when you are exhausted and sleep-deprived. Luckily, small gestures have a much more significant impact on strengthening your relationship. A quick hug before leaving for work, a post-it note saying I love you, a look of admiration, or picking up your partner’s favorite treat will build a stronger connection than a date night out at a steakhouse.
- Take care of yourself
Taking the time to nurture yourself individually will make all the difference in your relationship’s survival. You will not be able to connect with your partner after having the baby if your mental and/or physical health are struggling. Accept offers of help from your family, friends, and anyone else in your support system (and ask if necessary) to take some time for yourself to refuel. You can also see if they’ll watch the baby once in a while so you can get out with your partner on something simple like a walk, or you stay home while they walk with the baby.
Couples often have a hard time connecting with each other after having a baby. Going on a vacation, catching a movie, planning dates, or having a spontaneous romantic night may have worked great before, but not be the best fit for now. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to connecting with your partner. Your life, your circumstances, and your relationship are unique.
It’s important to put in the time and effort to communicate with your partner about how you can improve things together. Maintain an environment of love, respect, patience, forgiveness, and care. Do things you both enjoy. Try some of the tips mentioned above. It may take some time to find your ground again, but with constant and conscious efforts, you can get back in the flow of your relationship!