And Baby Makes Three – Staying Connected After Your Baby
You have waited with joyful anticipation for the coming of your little one. You excitedly embarked on projects to welcome the baby. The nursery is all decorated and filled with the necessary equipment. You have bought the baby a complete wardrobe (and then some). And when that moment came, when you first saw your baby, you experienced such delight at finally holding him.
And then… comes the 3 a.m. feedings, the non-stop crying jags, the need to juggle your schedule around the baby. The sleepless nights, lack of sex and overall fatigue takes a toll on you and your spouse. Your relationship feels strained. You can say goodbye to spontaneous dates, to quiet evenings by the fire, to sleeping in. Yes, a baby is a gift and a blessing, but you must also prepare for the challenges of being a parent and a spouse.
The mother may feel resentful that they take the role of the primary caretaker and feel that the husband has more freedom and more opportunities to rest and relax. This resentment may also be exacerbated by the feeling that as primary caretaker, they assume more “difficult” roles with the baby – breastfeeding, bathing, changing the diapers while the father gets to simply enjoy and play with the baby.
Meanwhile, the father can feel left out of the excitement and this can also lead to feelings of resentment. Commonly, it is the mother who gets the supports from loved ones and friends. The busyness of taking care of baby’s needs may also result in a feeling of disconnection between the husband and wife. If the wife is the primary caregiver, the husband may also feel guilty about feelings of jealousy that crop up as a result of the wife spending more time with the baby.
So, how do you manage your relationship and maintain your connection with your spouse even as you take care of your baby?
– Establish your bond before the birth. If your marriage is already rocky prior to the baby’s birth, it would be good to consider getting Utah marriage counseling. You see, if there are problems with the marriage even before the arrival of the baby, the stress of caring for the baby may add another strain and your marriage bond may start to unravel. Provo counseling can help strengthen your marriage and prepare it for this challenge.
– Establish a relationship that is couple-centered, not baby-centered. Arranging your relationship around your children will only set you up for a never-ending round of meeting their needs while ignoring you and your spouse’s needs. Remember, the best gift you can give to your children is for you to love your spouse.
– Don’t be Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. In caring for your baby, have realistic expectations about what you or your spouse can and should do. Your house does not have to be immaculate and you don’t have to eat off the kitchen floor. Having unrealistic expectations about your housekeeping skills coupled with caring for the baby may just be too much. The same goes with being a parent to your child. Compulsive parenting (or that desire to do things or parent in a certain way, to be the “supermom” or “superdad”) will cause strain on your relationship with your spouse.
– Strive for balance. Of course, the demands of a crying baby will be more urgent that you find little time to take care of yourself and your spouse. However, strive for balance by hiring a sitter or asking mom to watch the baby while you go out for a quick date with your spouse. Make sure you also get enough rest – catch a nap while your baby is sleeping, cuddle with your spouse during this time of quiet.
– Get what help you can. If loved ones and friends offer a helping hand, gratefully accept. You don’t have to go at it alone. If you also struggle with negative feelings about the baby, you can also consider going to Utah therapists for help in coping with the stress you may be feeling.
– Keep communicating. Provo marriage counseling can help equip you with positive communications skills so that you can openly discuss your own reactions and feelings about the baby, the changing needs of the family and discuss your changing set of expectations. Be open about your fears about being a parent, how chores can be divided between you and your spouse, what you need and expect from him or her at this time. Make sure to set aside time to touch base every day.
One good reminder about the roller coaster ride of parenting is the mantra, “This, too, shall pass.” Our little helpless bundles of joy will eventually grow up to become independent adults. Thus, it is important to remember to also strengthen your bond as a couple, even at a time when you seem to have your hands full with the baby. To get more help with this, you can also go for couples counseling in Utah.