Caring for Mom

Relationship Tips for New Parents

Relationship Tips for New Parents

Stress. Exhaustion. Frustration. These are not the first words you think of when you consider how your new baby will affect your relationship. That’s because your new bundle of joy comes with a lot of work — and oftentimes that work can interfere with the happy and healthy partnership with your significant other.

In fact, parental conflicts spike and relationship satisfaction decreases more during the first years of having a new child. That’s because, as a new mom or dad, you’re still trying to define your role as a parent. In the course of doing that, you prioritize — and what falls to the bottom of the list may be sleep, intimacy or other personal sacrifices.

To help you manage the ups and downs of life with a new baby, try the following tips to empower your relationship:

Tip #1: Just because there’s a “we,” doesn’t meant there can’t be an “us.” When you and your significant other transition to family life, it’s important to remember you can remain best friends. It’s normal to feel like that friendship should take a backseat to a new baby, but you can still take small steps to make a huge difference in your spouse’s marital satisfaction. For example, ask follow-up questions when your partner tells you about something that happened in their day. Or, when apart, have an adult interaction — such as sending a romantic or encouraging email or text. This creates points of reconnection and shows you care.

Tip #2: Don’t hit the snooze button on your relationship. Lack of sleep can be brutal. It causes us to be angry, frustrated or irritable at the drop of a hat and can instigate meaningless fights. Try to find ways around the lack of sleep. Rest or nap when baby’s sleeping, or ask family or friends to watch your child. Then, even if you both doze off during a movie or hit the hay the second you get home, you’re still spending time alone together.

Tip #3: Heat up your love life. It’s not uncommon for sex to drop off when you have a child. But losing intimacy completely can make you feel less connected to your partner. Combat this by staying in tune with your significant other’s needs. Even when sex isn’t the end result, simply touching, cuddling and even talking about intimacy or the lack of sex can bond you and your partner. Try not to focus on spontaneity or on waiting for the right moment. There’s nothing wrong with carving out time to be intimate.

Tip #4: Search for the compromises in conflicts. Clashing parenting styles typically don’t present themselves until a new baby actually arrives. And it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll discover more about the parent your partner will be (or wants to be) when baby is crying in the next room. Share your views on raising your child. When conflicts arise, talk about trying different approaches (e.g., casual feeding versus scheduled feeding; shared sleeping arrangements versus separate bedrooms for parents and child). If you can’t find compromises and your marital satisfaction is declining, consider seeking professional counseling. Or, decide if a parenting class from a reputable instructor may be a helpful approach.

Need more tips or have more questions about how to maintain your relationship while managing a new baby? Check out Winnie Palmer Hospital’s Health Resources today.