How do we keep our connection as a couple when we have a new baby?
Many of the couples of I work with are those who’ve either recently grown their family with the addition of a new baby, or are in the process of starting a family through pregnancy or adoption. They often ask me, “How do we keep our connection as a couple when we have a new baby?”
Surely, they’ve heard countless stories from family, friends, and co-workers about how drastically life changes once a newborn enters the family. And it’s true, life changes a whole lot when you have a baby.
As the mom of a toddler, I can remember well what it was like trying to figure out the ropes and how to adjust to my new role as a mom (and ultimately a new way of living). I remember the fears, concerns, worries, and sleepless nights that accompanied those first few months as a new parents and the same fears, concerns, worries, and sleepless nights I experience now that my child is getting older and my husband and I learn to adjust. Read the 7 realizations about being a new mom for tips on the transition into motherhood.
There are many ways couples can maintain, and even strengthen, their connection with one another after the addition of a new baby. There’s one caveat: it takes work and commitment. As with new change in one’s life (and raising children) consistency is key if you want to see results. It’ll be tough remaining calm and composed after you’ve just had a fight with your significant other over how to change a diaper and practice saying words of encouragement to your spouse, yet the payoff of a strong relationship and unified parenting team will be worth the price.
Below are some tips you and your partner can implement to keep your connection:
1. Schedule Time. It’s hard when you have a new baby to find the time to do everything you want or need to get done. First time parents are especially fearful of leaving their newborns in the hands of a babysitter. Despite the difficulties faced with finding a time to be with your spouse, without your baby, this time is incredibly important for you as a couple. This time allows you to reconnect and share the highlights of your new roles as parents. Keep this interaction positive and let any negativity stay away for the 30 minutes (or however much time you have together). This doesn’t have to be an everyday event (perhaps it can’t be!) yet finding time once a week or once every other week will keep your connection strong.
2. Stay Mentally Connected. If you’re a stay at home parent, after the first few weeks of the baby’s birth and your partner returns to work, find small ways to connect throughout the day. Most couples stay connected through text messaging one another throughout the day and this is one part of your relationship you can keep the same even with the addition of your newborn. A short, sweet message and a picture of what your day looks like at home with the baby will keep you and your partner talking.
3. Acknowledge the Positive. It’s tempting to turn into a know it all after all the parenting books you’ve read. And it’s even more tempting to point it out to your partner, whom you think is doing it all wrong. Let it go. For most couples, even those with lots of child raising experience from sibling and relatives, this is the first time you’ve experienced anything like this and you’re bound to make mistakes along the way. Rather than focusing on everything that could be done better, take a minute to think about everything that is going right already. Phrases like, “I love how attentive you are to the baby” can mean the world to your partner and be the highlight of an especially difficult day.
The path to parenthood is a long one, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. These are just a few quick tips you can begin implementing in your relationship to keep your connection strong and healthy. As always, if you find yourself struggling with any of the tips mentioned above, Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT is just a phone call 954.391.5305 ext. 1 away. Call today to schedule your appointment! Dr. Kate provides pre-marital counseling, marriage therapy, and couples counseling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She also provides counseling for new parents in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.