“You need to do everything fun in life now before you have children, because once you do, your life is over.” I overheard this statement from a family last summer and my first thought was, “No! It does not have to be that way!” However, it really made me think about society’s view on childbearing and the ways in which people are misinformed. So, I am here to tell you that you do not have to sacrifice your marriage if you want to have children!
Most people see children as wonderful and irreplaceable gifts, but the arrival of a little one will bring some stress to your romantic relationship. Challenges are inevitable. It is due to being in the middle of a major life change – everyone is adjusting at a time like that! Research shows that marital quality can decline during and after the transition to parenthood, which is why it is most important to make sure that you choose to actively find joy from every relationship that you are in.
Some Tips to Help You and Your Partner through this Transition
- Make Time for One Another
The time that used to be only for you and your partner is now time spent with you, your partner, and your baby. So, make an effort to schedule things for just you and your partner. Maybe make a lunch meeting or a mid-day walk. Even though it is hard to be spontaneous, scheduling a time just for the two of you – even if it is short – gives each of you something to look forward to.
- Create Daily Rituals
Obviously you must do whatever works best for you and your partner, but do that thing every single day. Whether it is coffee in bed or putting the kids to sleep, this ritual will remind you of how you care for each other.
- Keep Score of the Positive Things You are Doing for One Another
“Keeping score” is typically viewed negatively because it is harmful to a relationship to compare, but let’s tweak that and keep score in a positive way. For instance, think about the things your partner does that you might take for granted, taking out the trash every day or changing baby’s diapers. Thinking about how your partner gives to your relationship and to your family will not only have you appreciating your partner more, it will make you want to give more in return.
- Say at least One Sweet Thing per Day
Make it a priority to do something daily for your partner. It can be hard some days because of the new stress you are under, but saying sweet things to your partner automatically makes them feel appreciated and desired. If something as little as this can strengthen your marriage, why wouldn’t you try it?
- Find a New Hobby – Together
I cannot stress the importance of making the time to have fun with your partner. With all of the stress that you are both experiencing, it is important now more than ever. The positive feedback you experience from doing this new hobby, whether it’s watching a new TV show or a weekly hike, will help to make you feel secure in your relationship.
- Keep Your Intimacy
You might have to schedule time to be intimate with your partner, whether that means holding hands, cuddling, or sex. With a new baby, scheduling this time into your week is sometimes the only way to make sure you and your partner are still intimate.
- Be Light-Hearted
Laughter is the best medicine, especially with your partner. Choose to take daily doses of it. Find the humor in life, even if that means you choose to combine that new hobby you and your partner are doing into laughter – do something that will bring laughter to you and your partner.
- Use your Friends and Family
Get H-E-L-P. You will need it! Becoming a family is a major life transition, one that you and your partner should not take on alone. If your family is close by, grandparents will love the time with baby while you can take a break to do something together. Even if you don’t have family close – use your friends for help. Search for babysitters even. Just make sure you make connections for help, and then don’t be afraid to ask for it!
- Don’t be Afraid to Seek Therapy
If you truly feel overwhelmed and stressed, talking to a therapist or counselor can greatly benefit your life in many aspects. This new transition is filled with many feelings such as worries, exhaustion, and stress as well as wonderful and exciting. If you feel as though you have a lot going on and you and your partner can’t work it out on your own, I encourage you to seek therapy or an educational class.
My hope is that the information presented here does not only benefit your romantic relationship, but your entire family as well. Taking time to work on your romantic relationship is so vital to your happiness. It takes real work with your partner to maintain a solid union after becoming a family, but every little thing helps. It may not be as easy, or come as naturally as it did before baby, but I hope that choosing to make your relationship a priority and utilizing some of these tips will help!
– Sarah Beth Thompson
Belsky, J., Spanier, G., & Rovine, M. (1983). Stability and Change in Marriage across the Transition to Parenthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 45(3), 567-577.
Revelant, J. (2014, February 09). 11 Ways to Have a Strong Marriage after Baby. Retrieved September, 24, 2014, from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/09/11-ways-to-have-strong-marriage-after-baby/.
Stock, P. (2004, October). Marriage After Baby: Problems and Solutions. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.parents.com/parenting/relationships/staying-close/marriage-after-baby/.