’m going to lay out some pillars of a healthy relationship for you:
Good communication, trust, physical affection, a good sex life, emotional support, shared interests, equality in the relationship, and time spent together having fun.
Got it? Great! Now, insert baby here…
Oh, mama… You’re tired, your body feels and looks different, there’s a baby in your bed, and you’re pouring all your time, energy, body, and soul into keeping this tiny human alive. In the beginning, it’s a struggle to remember to eat, let alone make time for your relationship.
Over time, as you adjust to this new person and things settle into a routine, you and your partner slowly become more comfortable with your roles as parents. But what about your roles as partners?
It’s so easy to get swept up in the intensity and demands of new parenthood that you forget about being a couple. You may not even be sure how to be a couple anymore. You care deeply about your baby, and you want to do what’s best for her, but you don’t have to forget about your relationship and your happiness to do that. On the contrary:
When you and your partner are happy and healthy, your baby is getting the best from you both.
So, I want to share with you some tips for how to make renewing your relationship easier after having a baby:
Having a baby can be an opportunity for growth in your relationship. Dealing with a sudden increase in stress (a baby, for example!) tends to increase conflict and intensifies any issues that already existed in your relationship. If you can slow down and take the time to really talk to each other, you can figure out how to support each other and grow together.
Talk about what you need from each other physically and emotionally. Talk about your parenting differences and try to understand where the other person is coming from. Also, talk about what you love to do together and how you want to spend your time when you do get time alone. If you can do this, you may find that you have gotten much closer than you were before having a baby!
If you’re looking for more tips on how to talk with your partner, I wrote a free guide on improving communication skills for couples. Click here if you’d like a copy!
Before having a baby, it’s easy to be spontaneous and surprising. After you have a baby, though, you need to be much more deliberate about your relationship.
Plan date nights ahead of time, have a regular babysitting schedule, and make time for sex before you’re dead tired and dropping into bed at the end of the day. This might feel awkward at first, but scheduling regular time for each other is important when there are so many other demands on your time and attention.
Getting out and having fun with your partner doesn’t always have to mean leaving the baby behind. Go out to dinner and bring the baby in the car seat, go on a beautiful drive, or simply go for a walk with your partner and take the stroller. Having a change of scene and getting outside can do wonders for your mood and relationship.
Chances are you have family or friends that would love to help you more than they do. Go ahead and take advantage of that when you need it. Let them take the baby and give yourselves time off. Another great option is to find a babysitting co-op and trade babysitting with other nearby parents.
I have one last piece of advice that I would really like you to take to heart: start shedding some of that mom/parent guilt. We live in a society that heavily enforces the flawed idea that you owe all your spare time and energy to your kids. I know that it is hard to escape that feeling, but try. Take time away from the baby, put yourselves first sometimes, and don’t feel bad about it.
You have weathered the storm that is having a newborn, and you are a mom now (and I bet you are rocking it!), but you’re allowed to be so much more than that. Have fun, enjoy your partner and your relationship, and tell the mom guilt where to shove it. Show your kids what a blast it is to have happy parents.
This article was originally published on Plus Size Birth.