Do you know what the hardest part about bringing home a new baby is? The answer is truly a lot simpler than you might think. Are you ready? It’s….. SHARING. That’s right. Sharing.
Before baby, date nights are as simple as picking a date and time where you are both free and deciding on what you want to do. Before baby, snuggling at night in your own bed after a long day is as peaceful and quiet or as fun and exciting as you want it to be. Before baby, you can come home, sit down for dinner together, and talk about whatever is on your mind with no interruptions.
The truth is, there is a certain freedom before the baby comes into the picture and everything is on your own terms— your lives, your marriage, your schedule, your home, your bed, your conversations, your flexibility, your dreams, your sex life… all of it. Sure, you and your spouse still have to work together to come up with how it all works best for both of you. But, you’re adults and you are only responsible to each other… not for each other. Baby is different.
Suddenly, when the baby comes home, your life just isn’t your own anymore. You have to share each other and yourselves with this beautiful and confusing little person who changes minute by minute and needs you more than you could have ever thought possible.
Babies cry a lot, they eat a lot, they poop a lot, they wake up easily, and most importantly… they need comfort and physical touch to grow and thrive. They don’t just WANT you as your spouse does, they NEED you to survive. And while that truth is one of life’s greatest privileges, when you haven’t slept, or showered in days, and your coffee is cold, it can also feel like the heaviest burden.
Just like in marriage, when you bring home a new baby, you BOTH have roles to play and responsibilities to uphold. You can’t be married together and parent alone. It doesn’t work that way. So, if you’re struggling to connect after bringing home your baby, try to focus on the things you can control and take ownership of. If you both own your roles, you’ll form a great parenting team!
Here are 4 tips for marital connection, and satisfaction, after bringing home a baby:
1. Be Intentional With Each Other
It is more important than ever before that you step up to the plate of intentionality and, hit or miss, keep swinging the bat. Since baby tends to recognize mom’s smell more prominently and, if mom is nursing, also initially depends on her for food and comfort, it can be easy for mom to slip into caring for all of baby’s needs while dad slips into the background; especially when the baby is brand new. Time is like sand slipping through your fingers, and once the baby comes you’ll have a lot less free time for yourselves for the first few years, so make them count! Plan date nights, snuggle on the couch when you can, ask each other one of our Connecting Questions, and do your best to take good care of each other.
Tip: If you hear your spouse complaining or begging for time to themselves… GIVE. IT. TO. THEM. Literally, take the baby out of their arms and send them out for some time alone or take the baby to run some errands with you and let your spouse rest alone at home. It is good for both of you to have one-on-one time with baby, and it is good for both of you to have alone time away from baby. Your partner is your ally, NOT your enemy, so share your responsibilities with each other!
2. Use Your Words
As you grow as parents, your needs as married people will change, so speak up about it! For example, before our first baby was born, my love language was “words of affirmation,” but after we had our first child, words seemed to fall to the floor. I was so tired and exhausted all the time that what really spoke love to me was when my husband would do the dishes or fold some laundry. My love language shifted from words of affirmation to acts of service, and once I communicated that, he knew how to love me better and therefore, I could love him better right back.
Your spouse is not a mind reader, and your spouse is also as tired as you are, so if there is something you need from them or if there is something you’d like to do together or change about what you’re doing… it is your responsibility to make it known to your spouse. Time is precious, and it would be a shame to waste your precious time together fighting over something that could have been avoided or prevented if you had just spoken up in the first place.
3. Lather Each Other With Grace and Space
You are BOTH working hard, you are BOTH learning and adjusting, and you are both exhausted. You both need room and space to figure it all out. The truth is that if you do not gracefully leave room for your partner to make mistakes, grow, and learn as a parent (and as a spouse), you can’t be upset when they don’t, or eventually, won’t. Give each other grace and space to grow. Trust your spouse to know what they need and do what you can to support them in making it happen. You’re on the same team! So, rally FOR each other instead of working against each other.
4. Exercise Self-Care
You’re not a bad parent for needing time away from your little one. In fact, you’re a GOOD parent for being self-aware and ASKING for time away when you need it. We aren’t expected to be around anyone else in our lives 24/7, and the same goes for baby.
Remember: confident and healthy individuals speak up when they are struggling. So, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed or like you are drowning, then you need to make a “safety plan” for yourself and take care of YOU. Text a friend or relative, or work it out with your spouse so that you know your baby is well-loved and safe while you take time to do something that makes you happy. You’ll be so thankful that you did!
Here are some self-awareness questions for you mothers:
Am I treating my spouse more like a teammate and valued partner or more like a servant in this season?
What can I do to engage my spouse as a parent and better invite my spouse into the beautiful, challenging, scary, and messy experience of raising our children so that we can be a united front?
Does my husband feel like a priority to me right now, or could he be feeling like I have put him on the back burner? If he isn’t a priority, what can I do to make him one?
Have I been practicing self-care and making sure that I’m taking care of my own emotional and physical health as best I can?
Here are some self-awareness questions for you fathers:
Have I spoken up about my fears, thoughts, joys, challenges, or growth-moments since becoming a father? If not, how can I speak up to my wife this week about what parenting has been like for me so far?
Have I taken the time to recognize the way becoming a parent has shaped or challenged my spouse? How can I take the initiative to step into her world and love her well?
What role do I want to have in my baby’s life? How can I communicate that to my spouse and how can I step into that role confidently?
Written by Anna Collins
Anna Collins lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and two children. She is passionate about her marriage, staying at home with her kids, writing, coffee, good conversation, and game night. Her life dream is to someday write a book and see it published.