Even the strongest bonds can be tested
when the excitement of a brand new baby gives way to sleep deprivation,
self-doubt and lack of communication. Want to keep your marriage strong as the
two of you become a family? Here's how.
1. Split up
Wait, what? One of the most important things you can do for each other as a
couple is to go your separate ways. It takes effort and a bit of planning, but
continuing to pursue interests and friendships on your own makes you a better
partner—and parent. But who really feels like meeting friends for a movie after
a long day of caring for a baby? You may have to start small when your baby is young,
especially if you're breastfeeding and can't be more than a feeding away. Take
a walk on your own, escape to the backyard to call your BFF or just take a
nap. Likewise, try and make sure your partner has time to pursue his interests
as well. It won't always be easy, but it's important in the long run.
Newborns put you into full-on survival mode, which makes it hard to take
care of yourself, let alone your spouse. But the foundation of your new little family is the bond you've created with each other—and small steps you take to be
thoughtful to each other pay off massively in the long run. Pouring that third
cup of coffee? Pour one for your spouse, too. Think about how the baby affects each of you in different ways and acknowledge this. Dads, don't use
breastfeeding or "bonding" with mom as an excuse to back away from your spouse.
She needs you now more than ever and she needs to feel that strong foundation
underneath her feet.
Invest in a really good coffee pot. Enough said.
Laughing together after a particularly challenging day helps you both stay sane.
Even when nothing seems funny—projectile spit up, overflowing diaper pail,
nasty case of diaper rash—laughter is one of the most important things that can
keep your marriage strong. Laughing together after a particularly challenging
day helps you both stay sane. So put on that favorite funny DVD and share some
laughs, even if you have to watch it half an hour at a time.
Seriously, who feels like getting busy when your boobs are leaking and you're
still wearing maternity undies? But those simmering urges might never come back
if you don't try and keep the fire stoked. Have an honest conversation about
when you might be ready for more than a peck on the cheek, and make a pact to
remember how you made the baby in the first place. A kiss in the kitchen, a
hand lingering on your shoulder when he takes the baby for bath time, a wink
across the room—it all keeps the fires warm, and helps you see each other as
more than roommates. And when you're ready to bring sexy back? The journey
isn't that far.
6. Divide and conquer
Until you've had a baby, you just can't explain it—babies are time sucks. It's
easy to think that you can run errands and get everything done just as easily
with baby in tow, because they just sleep all day, right? Comparing your to-do
lists and consolidating errands throughout the week takes a load off both of
you, leaving more time for playing with your baby and enjoying your family.
Whether your relationship was relatively new when your baby came into the
picture or you've been married for a decade, listening is one of the most
important things you can do to stay close. So even when your baby-frazzled mind can't remember if you showered this
morning, you both need to have at least a few minutes out of each day for real
communication. And it goes both ways.
Babies are all sorts of awesome—and all sorts of exhausting.
But keeping your relationship strong will result in a big payoff down the road.
Like when you have a teenager.