Becoming a parent is an amazing experience, but let’s be honest, it can really suck the life out of your marriage. Few things test the strength of a marriage as much as having a baby. Going from the somewhat simple role of ‘husband and wife’ to the more complex ‘dad and mom’ is not always an easy transition. I’m not embarrassed to admit that during both of my pregnancies, I worried a lot about the future state of my marriage after baby arrived.
I understood that things would never be the same between my husband and I, and that keeping our relationship strong would be a lot of hard work. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t make me anxious and keep me up some nights, along with all the other fun pregnancy worries.
What I didn’t understand is that having kids could actually make our marriage stronger. All we had to do was get over the initial hump of such a big change.
Marriage After Baby
In all honesty, our marriage went through some serious trials and tribulations for about a year after my first baby. I know, a year is a long time, but that’s how long it took for us to get out of a really deep rut. If I’m being totally candid, it was rough as hell for both of us. So rough, in fact, that our marriage was in jeopardy.
That just got super depressing, I know. But, it’s important to pull the curtain back (no social media highlight reel here) and reveal how hard marriage after baby can really be. I want new parents to know that they aren’t alone in this.
I believe that to some extent, it’s totally normal for a new baby to put some significant strain on your marriage. You are both learning your new roles as mom and dad from scratch, and trying to figure out what that means for your marriage.
The good news is that you have an opportunity to actually strengthen your marriage after baby makes his big debut. After you have kids, your relationship is bound to evolve. It’s up to you and your partner whether that evolution has a positive or negative outcome.
If you and your spouse are going through a post-baby rut, or if you’re pregnant and worried about your future post-baby relationship, I want to help. In the spirit of being totally candid, I’m going to share with you exactly the steps my husband and I took to get our marriage back on track after becoming parents.
How To Rekindle Your Marriage After Baby
[ I’m going to take a brief pause here to explain that these tips can equally apply to baby number 2 or baby number 3, and so on. We brought home our second child just two months ago, and are working hard to not make the same mistakes again. We apply what we learned from the past (aka – these tips) and take it day by day. ]
Don’t Stop Communicating
Every relationship self-help book on the planet will highlight the importance of communication, and for good reason. Without an open line of communication, it’s impossible to work through even a relatively simple issue.
Lack of genuine communication played a huge part during our post-baby marriage troubles. I was struggling emotionally, but neither of us were talking about it.
If you’re having trouble communicating in your marriage after baby, I’d suggest trying these three things:
- Have a one-on-one sit down to really talk it out. Put the baby to bed or get a sitter, make a nice dinner, and get down to the nitty gritty. You can’t be afraid to be vulnerable in front of your spouse. You need to lay it all on the line and tell each other exactly how you feel. Make a pact to work on being more open with each other.
- Go the self-help route. I know some people just can’t get comfortable going to an outside source for help. If that’s you or your spouse, go for the next best thing. When it comes to communication, I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.This book is all about figuring out how to effectively communicate with your partner. We all process our emotions differently, and we all perceive love and affection in different ways. The 5 Love Languages will help you discover what your love languages are and how you can improve communication using those love languages. It’s a super quick and easy read. My husband and I read it in one day while lounging on the couch and nursing a hangover (LOL). In all seriousness, I believe in this book so much, I often gift it to friends who have recently gotten engaged or married.
- Seek professional help. At some point, we realized that we weren’t going to be able to “fix” our issues without some outside help. We needed an outsider’s perspective and professional guidance if we wanted to save our marriage. We did a handful of sessions with a marriage counselor and gained tangible advice for strengthening our communication, among other things. I can’t recommend couples therapy enough. I know some people are reluctant to give it a shot, but it could be just thing you need to repair your marriage. Let go of your pride, insecurities, or whatever it is holding you back from seeking help, and give your marriage a fighting chance.
Date Your Spouse
If you’re not careful, your spouse could soon feel more like a roommate. It’s no surprise that romance may be the last thing on your mind during your postpartum recovery. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t have felt more unattractive during those first few weeks after giving birth. And, let’s be honest, with a newborn constantly on my boobs and a six inch incision just above my lady bits, sex was the last thing on my mind.
When you’re feeling more like yourself and your battle wounds have healed, it’s time to give your relationship some attention. You should never stop dating your spouse. I fully believe that dates are an important part of a strong relationship.
With a new baby depriving you of sleep, getting gussied up and going out for dinner may sound exhausting and I get that. But, if you can muster up the energy, it’s going to feel really good to get out of the house and not have a baby attached to you. If you rather keep it mellow, go to a luxury movie theater or get couples massages.
If you’re low on funds or you can’t get a babysitter, in-home dates can be just as nice. In fact, I’ve got a whole list of unique in-home date nights that go beyond Netflix and chill.
Whether you go out or stay in, the point is have some much needed one-on-one time with your spouse. Give each other your full undivided attention. Have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around the kids. Make out a little, or a lot, your choice. Take full advantage of this alone time, because you know it doesn’t happen often.
Choose Your Battles
After the birth of my first kid, I started to become anxious about certain things. If the house isn’t clean, if things are cluttered, if tasks are put off (like tending to the backyard), all of these things make me anxious. Not understanding these feelings, I became resentful and angry. Of course, I would take these feelings out on the person closest to me – my husband. Naturally, this only added to the problems we experienced in our marriage after baby arrived.
It was actually our marriage counselor that explained to me that what I was feeling was anxiety, most likely triggered by postpartum hormones. Now that I better understand what these anxious feelings are and where they come from, I can better handle them.
I’ve learned to pick my battles. It may irritate the crap out of me that husband is a messy cook, because how hard is it really to clean up as you go? Instead of getting upset and starting a pointless argument, I resolve to do the cleaning because he did the cooking. If I’m feeling overwhelmed in a cluttered house, I ask him for help instead of rage clean by myself.
Learn to pick your battles. Postpartum anger is a thing; and when you’re an exhausted new mom, it doesn’t take much to make you lose your shit. Try to take a step back and ask yourself if it’s worth the anger, if it’s worth an argument. Let go of the little nuisances and save the drama for when it’s truly warranted.
Practice Self Care
When my husband and I were going through that rough patch after the birth of my daughter, I was not in a good place overall. I wasn’t making an effort to get healthy again. Although I loved spending time with my daughter and getting to watch her grow up, I was bored. I spent my free time being lazy, watching Netflix or scrolling social media. This left me feeling envious of others and generally unfulfilled.
I’ll say it loud so those in the back can hear, YOU CAN’T TAKE CARE OF YOUR MARRIAGE IF YOU AREN’T TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF.
Although it may not be obvious, practicing self care is an important part of any healthy relationship. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t have the energy to invest in your relationship.
When I started to really focus on myself, my mood lifted. I was finally losing the baby weight. I was working more, and had a passion project to keep me busy. All of this gave me a boost of confidence, and those feelings seeped their way into my relationship. My husband and I started to have fun with each other again. We were going on regular dates, we had a few childfree weekends, and we were having more sex (TMI).
Had I not gotten out of my own funk, I honestly believe that none of this would have happened and my marriage wouldn’t have rebounded.
Practicing self care can seem overwhelming or meaningless in those early postpartum weeks, but I promise you that it’s important. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home. Need some inspiration?Click here for simple ways you can practice postpartum care.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, marriage after baby is hard. Try to remember that you are on this new journey together. Lean on each other, be kind to one another, and try not to drive each other completely crazy.
[ If you’re suffering from postpartum depression and need someone to talk to, contact Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4773. Click here for more information. ]