Connecting with Your Spouse After Baby

Whether you’re having your first or your last baby, connecting with your spouse after baby arrives is not easy. Lots of people worry about how having a baby will change their relationship with their husband, wife, or partner. The good news is that while the baby will change your life, there are some great strategies that you can use to stay in tune with your spouse.

Don’t Keep Score

As weird as it is to start with what not to do, this is a really important strategy. It can be really easy to feel like a martyr as a new parent. Maybe you get up with the baby every time, change way more poop diapers, or do all the breastfeeding. Maybe you didn’t have as much leave as your spouse and so you had to go right back to work in order to make money or keep the family’s health insurance. Regardless of the sacrifices you’re making as a parent to a new little person, your life is probably harder than it was before. Rather than comparing the things you’ve lost to those your partner is dealing with, acknowledge that you both have it tough and commiserate about all the spit up, laundry, and screaming. If your coparent is struggling, do as much as you can to help them, whether than means waking up with them to change a diaper after a night feeding or taking charge of all the dishes—including the baby bottles and pump parts. If you really feel unsupported by your partner, do your best to speak to them about it in a quiet moment when neither one of you is too sleepy or grumpy.

Find Something To Share (Other Than Baby)

Maybe you both could listen to the same podcast during the day and then chat about it for a few minutes before you go to bed. Or you could start watching a new TV show together—perhaps something light that you both enjoy and that doesn’t take too much focus or concentration. If your older children are acting wild during the day, talk and laugh about it after they are all (hopefully) in bed. Check in about a sports team that you both like and watch a game—or if that requires too much time, some highlights. Read the same news article or blog post and talk briefly about it. Meditate or take a nap together while baby sleeps. If physical intimacy is something you both enjoy, hold hands as you each read a separate book side by side on the couch or carve out time for a cuddle or make out session. Connecting about something other than your baby will remind you both of the adults you once were—and will be again—and nurture your partnership aside from your coparenting relationship.

Plan Time Away From Baby—Together and Apart

Depending upon your life, finances, and childcare options, this one might be a bit tricky, but just do the best you can. If your time together looks like a night in a hotel while the grandparents take over, great, but a walk around the neighborhood while a trusted neighbor sits on your porch with an eye on the baby monitor can be just as good for your connection to each other. It’s also important that each coparent gets to take a break away from the household, fellow coparent, and baby. Whether you’re getting out of your home together or solo, even a little bit of separation is a good reset when you feel trapped in your house or apartment and also in your life’s new reality.

Ask For Help

It’s normal for people to have a hard time with the adjustment of adding a person to the family. Sometimes it’s easier to add a second or third child than to have the first child, but that’s not always the case. After welcoming baby, if you and your spouse are struggling with any aspect of your relationship—coparenting, anger, or sexual connection, for instance—don’t be afraid to speak to a professional. There are plenty of non-judgmental experts, including therapists and parenting coaches, out there who can help you troubleshoot any problem you’re having, mediate conflicts that arise, and give you specific strategies for coping with parenthood and life as a couple and coparenting team.

Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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