You and your spouse have probably already gone through a number of different changes over the course of your relationship. But whether it was getting married, buying a new home, or moving in together, you got through it and came out on the other side stronger and even more in love.
Having your first child is different, though.
You are fundamentally altering the dynamic of your interactions with each other by bringing someone else into the picture. Someone who will need both of you. An individual who is likely to displace your spouse as the person at the center of your world – at least to a certain degree.
Many new parents are warned about common obstacles, such as trying to communicate after getting no sleep. Or taking out the frustration of a baby who won’t stop crying on each other.
But what about when one of you strongly disagrees with the other about a parenting decision? Or those times when you yell at each other because one of you was handling a tantrum and the other parent butted in?
Those things are going to happen.
As amazing and beautiful and life-changing as raising a child is, you’re going to have less patience with each other. You’re going to lash out more. Your feelings will likely be hurt more.
And the times that you feel so, so overwhelmed will probably outnumber the ones where everything is going smoothly – at least early on.
Luckily, there are some steps that you can take to prepare your marriage for your first child and protect the bond between you and your spouse.
Set aside babysitter money.
Make sure you still take the time to go out on dates, have “couple” nights, and indulge once and while on a mini vacation with your spouse. You may feel obligated to pour all of your energy into being a parent, but understand that you need to spend time (and yes, even some money) on self-care and nourishing your relationship.
Thank your spouse.
You are going to put in a lot of work as a new parent, but so is your spouse. Make sure you take the time to recognize and appreciate the work they are doing to help. Shooting a “thank you” text or giving your spouse a little gift for waking up in the middle of the night will go a long way.
Don’t lose the intimacy.
Even in the best case scenario, intimacy slows down for new parents. Unfortunately, if you turn down the flame in your relationship, it can be hard to re-stoke it again.
Make sure at least some of those date nights mentioned above involve some intimacy and romance, when the new mom is ready.
Keep the flame going, even if it’s not always physical.
Ask for help.
Whether you are asking your mother-in-law to take the baby for an hour while you go to a yoga class or reaching out to a relationship counselor to help mediate a conflict, know that you and your spouse are not alone.
There are many parents, friends, and professionals willing to help while you navigate the exciting (and confusing) world of being parents. Share your concerns, ask for advice, and accept the love that your network can give you.
Congratulations! With hard work and a lot of love, this new addition will help to strengthen your relationship and bring your marriage to new heights.
Rooting for you!