It isn’t easy to maintain intimacy after the baby arrives.
A new baby changes many things. Your routine is different. It isn’t so easy to snuggle up in bed or head out for an impromptu date.
Add in the lack of sleep, added responsibility, financial considerations, and general stress of having a newborn. You end up with a situation that can eat away at the intimacy in your relationship.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, you do need to adjust to these changes. Nevertheless, you can grow together and maintain both physical and emotional intimacy after the baby comes.
Challenges to Intimacy After the Baby are Normal
In their book “And Baby Makes Three,” husband-and-wife psychologists John and Julie Gottman report on extensive research into the impact of a baby on a relationship. They found that two-thirds of parents experience a significant decrease in the quality of their relationship within the first three years after their baby is born.
However, they are quick to point out that the situation isn’t hopeless. Instead, they looked at the other one-third of couples; the ones who were able to maintain intimacy after the baby. They found that there are safeguards that you can put in place to maintain intimacy. In fact, recognizing that the situation is challenging for all parents is the first step.
Try to remember that you are a team, working together for your family. Instead of blaming each other for things like the bills and the housework, work together to find solutions that work for both of you. Remember that the problem isn’t one another. The problem is the new, challenging situation; having a hard time right now is very normal. Be there for one another.
Express Gratitude towards one Another
Make it a habit to focus on the things that you love about one another. Instead of criticizing, blaming, and snapping at each other, turn to praise. Find one thing each day that the other has done well, then make sure that you have told them so. It isn’t always easy to remember to be grateful. However, it is worth the effort.
Both parents may feel underappreciated when the baby comes. Letting your partner know how much you appreciate them mitigates that. When they feel appreciated, they’ll be able to show more affection. This affection leads to both physical and emotional intimacy.
As a bonus, when you focus on what you’re grateful for, you feel better, too. You may have a long list of things that are stressful, but honing in on what is great makes those things fade away. At the very least, notice how grateful you are that the two of you have created this precious life. Delight in your baby together.
Build a Legacy
The Gottmans found that one of the key tools to maintain intimacy after the baby was to focus on “building a legacy.” In other words, it’s not just about you anymore. Instead, it’s about your whole family. What do you want for your family?
- What holidays do you want to celebrate and how?
- Which daily rituals are important?
- How do you want to express feelings in this family?
- What will be the role of technology at home?
- How do you want to handle times of sickness, stress, or loss?
You can address these topics head on. Make time to talk to your partner. Come to the conversation with an open mind, working toward solutions together. Listen, validate your partner’s desires, and create your family with intention. These shared goals heighten your emotional intimacy now and in the years to come.
Finally, just remember to put your relationship first. A happy marriage is a foundation for a happy baby. Commit to maintaining intimacy after the baby, and it will be easier to do so.
It is stressful having a new baby in the home. Couples counseling can help. Learn about couples therapy here.