For many couples, pregnancy should be the time when they solidify their marriage in preparation for the birth of their child. But when baby does arrive, they are soon bombarded with stresses – among them worries for providing for their child, baby care, and sleepless nights – which put considerable strain on their relationship. It’s not surprising therefore that there are some couples who bitterly say that it’s their kids that ruined their marriage.
Having a baby should not destroy your marriage. Take note of these 8 tips to a stronger marriage after having a child.
1) Share responsibilities in baby care
If there is one thing that can put a damper on a marriage after having a baby, it’s the sharing of responsibilities in baby care. Baby’s ear-piercing cries whenever he/she is hungry or needs to be changed especially at night can be wearing on the nerves. It’s not uncommon for couples to fight because one spouse thinks that the other is not doing his/her share. Discuss early on how you will go about dividing the baby care chores equally. In the evening, you can take turns feeding or changing baby’s diaper whenever he/she cries.
2) Keep track of what you give each other
Don’t just keep track of how much you’ve been doing in the baby care department. Be mindful of what your spouse is giving back as well. For example, if you happen to be feeding the baby, your husband will offer to do the laundry. Or if you are especially tired at night, he will take two turns in taking care of your child. The good thing about being giving it’s that you would want to reciprocate with kindness that was equal to what was given you by your spouse.
3) Be supportive of each other
This is related to No. 2. Always support each other, even outside of baby care. If your spouse had a particularly hard day at work, sit down with him and ask him about his day. Encourage him by saying how much you appreciate him. In the same vein, a husband should also inquire about his wife’s day and offer his assistance in taking care of the baby. Stop criticising each other’s faults. Instead, learn to appreciate each other’s contributions and be generous with well-meaning compliments.
4) Allot some time for each other
Taking care of baby is not a 24/7 deal. Make it a point to sit down and have nice conversations or enjoy a TV show together when baby is asleep. You can also have a family member or friend take care of your baby for you every Saturday so that you can have a quiet dinner at your favourite restaurant. If it’s a weekend, find pleasure in such a simple thing as having a nap together. Nothing could be sweeter than to just cuddle up on the couch and sleep.
5) Show appreciation to each other
When you are particularly stressed out, you tend to be more mindful of every little fault in your spouse. Instead, take a closer look at his or her situation and see how many positive things he/she has done in spite of all the difficulties. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate him/her, particularly pointing out the qualities or deeds that you love in him/her. You can even give them small gifts that they would like. This will convey to your spouse how deeply you care for him/him.
6) Anticipate renewing your sexual relationship
Admittedly, although couples can still have sex during pregnancy, it is not particularly satisfying because of the difficulties in finding comfortable positions, especially if the woman has a big belly. Ask your doctor when your body is healed enough after childbirth to resume sexual relations. You can also indulge in playful and/or affectionate foreplay to keep the fires burning between you.
7) Find humour in your lives
Learn to discover the funny things in your new lives as parents. For example, laugh at your first fumbling attempts at changing diapers or the minor catastrophes of having baby pee or burp on your clothes. Learn to laugh at each other’s mistakes. Find joy and laughter in the antics of your baby, such as when he/she smiles and laughs when you make faces or the way he/she rocks in his/her crib while holding on to his/her toes.
8) Get professional help when needed
Some couples may find their relationship strained by post-partum depression and similar psychological conditions after childbirth. In these cases, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. You can talk to your local marriage counsellor or a psychologist and get advice on how you can strengthen your marriage. In the case of post-partum depression, it is advisable to see a psychiatrist and inquire if there is a need to take medications.