Having a child is one of the most significant developments in the course of any partnership, and it’s likely that several facets of your relationship with your partner will change irrevocably as a result. That’s why it’s so important to prioritise your relationship as both you and your partner adjust to new roles as parents.
With a few simple tips in mind, you can respond to every new challenge in the best possible way and breed plenty of positivity amongst your new family.
Respond with empathy
Although you and your partner both become parents at the same time, new mothers and fathers often experience unique challenges. For example, while new mothers struggle with a new work-life balance and body image, it’s common for new fathers to feel a sense of isolation as they watch their partner create a strong bond with their new baby. Whatever your partner is going through, the best thing you can give them is your empathy for their situation, even if their problems seem smaller than yours.
Enjoy new bonding experiences
New mothers and fathers may not have a lot of free time for exciting date nights or trips away, but parenthood promises plenty of brand new experiences to enjoy together. Playdates with other children and parents, family trips to the grocery store, and even basic things like doctor’s check-ups can become important bonding activities. Not only are these appointments important for your baby’s health, but they’re also a great opportunity to develop new insights about the coming journey and mentally prepare yourselves. Ask your doctor as many questions as you can squeeze into a single appointment time, and use your insights to smooth the path from one milestone to the next.
Prepare for the waves of exhaustion
In any relationship, nothing kills the feelings of warmth and love like sleep depravity, and a new baby will have you up all night. When you’re tired, your fuse is shorter, and you won’t be conscious of much beyond your need for sleep. One of the best things you can do for your partner when they’re on edge is give them an hour to catch up on some sleep. Take over the swaddling, cooking or cleaning for a while and when they wake up, you’ll see a change in their entire demeanour. It might be extra tempting to flop into bed beside them and snooze, but imagine their delight when they arise to a home-cooked meal or a clean kitchen.
Let go of expectations
When it was just you and your partner, you each were the centre of the other’s world, and with that comes certain expectations around how you spend your time and relate to each other. Maybe you were once equal contributors to the household, both working full-time and enjoying a busy social life, but it’s very unlikely that none of that will change. Now that you’re responsible for a brand new life, your expectations for each other should also change to accommodate the newest person in your family. Unmet expectations can breed resentment, so make an effort to share your wants and needs in a gentle way and encourage open communication around them.
Make time for each other
During the first few months of parenthood, it can feel impossible to get so much as a moment to yourself, but just as it’s important to make time for you, making time for your partner will ultimately keep your relationship strong in spite of challenges. Free up one night per week or month and get someone to look after your baby for a few hours so that you can go out for dinner together. This is the time to remind yourselves of all the things you love about each other which are independent of your new roles as parents.
Childbirth will change your relationship with your partner in many ways, but the one enduring quality that will keep you on the right track is the love that brought you together in the beginning. Make the time to remember who you both are as people and what you mean to each other, and with any luck, your new baby will only strengthen that love.