Feeling like your marriage is breaking down after having a baby? Many couples experience new insecurities once their first child is born. So how do you keep your marriage strong after kids?
First off, you aren’t alone. In this article published in Forbes a few years ago, the results of a survey shows the decline of overall satisfaction a couple feels about their marriage after kids is twice as steep compared to childless couples.
So if you find yourself suddenly feeling unhappy in your marriage after having a baby, you might find just a little comfort in knowing that is sort of a normal happening!
This article isn’t going to address the huge range of reasons why new moms and dads become unhappy in their marriage after kids. But we’ll tackle 12 of the best tips to keep your marriage strong now that you have an extra member in the family.
- Embrace the space. Don’t rush to try to solve your relationships problems right after having a baby. Allow all the newness to settle before you try to tackle your relationship woes. You are both going to have a mix of emotions for a while and it will take time to accept and manage your new parental roles. A new mom suddenly has a mountain of physical and mental obligations to meet for the new baby and that can be extremely overwhelming for many months after birth! And new dads become aware very quickly of the enormous pressure they must now handle-that of feeling responsible for two of the most important people on earth! That’s why it’s a good idea to give each other time to wade through the heaviness of being a new parent. Give yourself and your spouse at least a few months after your first baby arrives before you decide to address any problems in your marriage. In the meantime…
- Remember the little things. You know each other better than anyone, so make whatever small effort you can to say I have your back. If a candy bar can turn her day around, come home frequently with that Snickers and a hug. Massage his shoulders or his head. Order her favorite take-out ahead of time. All the small things that show you care are going to help a great deal, especially if you or your spouse are feeling neglected.
- Compliment each other. Before you shrug this one off, remember that it was one of the expert tips that saved my relationship 11 years ago! Try to compliment your partner every day. Not only will you feel good doing it, your spouse will naturally want to return the gesture! Experts suggest to take some time to create a physical list of your spouse’s attributes, whether that’s on a piece of paper or the notepad on your phone. List all of the traits that make your spouse an awesome catch or a great mother/father and verbalize your appreciation or admiration for at least one of the items on your list every day. This goes a very long way for troubled marriages!
- Watch what else you say. It's 100% normal to feel a kind of animosity or resentment toward your spouse for something--anything--after having a baby. I could list numerous reasons I resented my husband after our son was born and I'm sure he could too. But those feelings are mostly a result of the sudden changes you are both experiencing. Give yourself and your spouse the benefit of the doubt--life just got turned upside down and it's hard. Bite-your-tongue skills have never been so important until now! Try not to let harsh things slip out that you'll have to apologize for later.
- Schedule times for intimacy. I know that doesn't sound pretty, but if you use creativity it can be quite fun! Regular sex--once you've healed from childbirth of course--is critical to keeping a relationship strong. The huge dump of dopamine will leave you both recharged and feeling lovey for at least a couple of days! Aside from hormonal stability, studies cited here show that regularly having sex with your spouse can treat and prevent headaches and migraines (guess that excuse is out!), prevent prostate cancer, prevent endometriosis and other reproductive issues and actually prolongs life compared to people who have sex or orgasms less frequently! So get busy guys!
- Give yourself credit. We tend to be extremely hard on ourselves right after that first baby. No matter what you do, you aren't perfect. So remember to take some time each day to reflect on the things that make you an awesome Mom or Dad. Giving yourself credit at the end of a hard day will help you sleep better and feel motivated tomorrow.
- Get creative with "Date Night". Let's face it, you are parents now and that means date nights will happen less often. But that doesn't mean they are less important! Attempt (notice I say attempt) to commit at least one day a week to focus on dating your spouse. Maybe that means when the baby is napping at 4pm you have a snack together and take thirty minutes to talk. Or, take this couples massage course where you'll learn intimate massage techniques to try on each other every opportunity you get. That's surely one way to keep the love alive!
- Take a marriage class. Fortunately we live in a time where we don't even have to leave our home to take advantage of self-help and guided classes that offer expert marital advice and counseling. Marriage courses, like this one, are available instantly online and you can "attend" at your convenience. You can also read more relationship advice from the experts here.
- Keep things light. Again, it's a good idea to give the marriage time to adjust to a new baby. Things will never be like they were so don't keep waiting for "everything to go back to normal". There will be a new normal that sets it...eventually! So in the meantime, try to take things as they come, turning to humor as often as you can!
- Watch comedies together. New babies bring a lot of seriousness don't they? I personally have found that watching comedy movies or stand-up comedy shows with my husband helps me loosen up after being so tense all day. And its those simple, silly moments you'll share together that will help you stay connected.
- Take care of your appearance. Maybe not right after giving birth ladies, but once you feel recovered and capable, put on regular clothes and brush your hair! Husbands, wear her favorite cologne and make her swoon again! Yes, you love each other in sweat pants and hoodies, but this is about keeping your love alive so make the extra effort to look attractive for your spouse. 😉
- Say I love you and kiss often. You won't always feel lovey-dovey, but kissing every morning and evening and saying I love you frequently releases feel-good hormones and helps to keep a marriage strong. Dr. Meyers, a family therapist, explains several benefits of kissing your spouse. She says “Being able to slow down for a long passionate kiss allows you to take a minute to truly be with your partner as his/her lover.” These long, passionate kisses are a good pick-me-up after a long day with a new baby!
Marriage can survive after having children! But just like anything worth keeping alive, it takes a little extra nurturing.
Did you like the ideas here for keeping a marriage alive and strong? Let me know in the comments! Read more marriage tips here!