Keeping the Relationship Fires Burning
Parenthood is one of the most rewarding journeys you'll ever embark upon, and one of the most challenging for you and your partner in terms of your relationship with each other. Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and short fuses. Tighter budgets may mean you argue about finances more. There may even be some jealousy from your partner about the amount of time you spend with the baby. Don't worry! Such occurrences and feelings are common and bound to happen to many new parents. It doesn't mean you love each other any less — just that you have a lot on your plate right now.
Help maintain a healthy relationship by keeping these things in mind:
Maintain good communication. By the end of a long day, you may feel like you and your partner haven't had a chance to talk, or you realize that you left about a dozen conservations unfinished. Though being a new parent requires a lot of hard work and time commitment, now is the time to nip any communication problems in the bud. Schedule time to talk when you can give each other undivided attention, whether at bedtime or during one of baby's naps. If something is troubling you, don't let it fester. Sit down and talk about it.
Avoid letting differing parenting styles cause a rift. Are you more likely to let baby "cry it out" so she will learn to sleep on her own, while your partner is more apt to pick her up whenever she cries? In reality, there's no one right way to raise a baby (or teach baby good sleep habits) but you can almost always find a middle ground or solution to the issue — and such teamwork can help you feel closer! If your partner is being driven crazy by baby's crying during the night, perhaps try a more graduated method of sleep training or another method. For example, only letting her cry for a set amount of time, then reassuring her at regular intervals.
Set up a "chores" schedule. Your house can run far more efficiently — and with less conflict — if each person knows what he or she is in charge of, such as who takes out the trash, whose turn is it to do the dishes or who's in charge of washing baby clothes
Decide who handles nighttime awakenings. Sleep deprivation can be a big source of relationship discord. For moms who breastfeed, the task of getting up for nighttime feedings will fall to you, at least in the beginning; try to catch up on your rest during baby's naps or have your partner or a family member or friend watch the baby while you nap.
Make time for each other. You're parents now, but you need time to yourselves. Make one night a week or every two weeks a date night. If you can't get away, make a special dinner or have an at-home movie date after baby goes to bed. Don't feel guilty about taking time for yourselves. You're still a couple — and an awesome one at that!
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