There is no doubt having a baby will forever change your life. You won’t be the same. Not only that, neither will your relationship with your partner. Many people worry that having a baby will change things, but they may not realize how much. Marriage is hard enough. When you add a baby to the mix, you find that things are even more challenging. One of the most significant pieces of this is that your priorities change.
Along with the changing priorities, you find that your time is severely reduced. You are constantly on baby duty, and the rest of the time, you’re exhausted. Even when they get older, the time you have to yourself is minimal, never mind finding time to spend with your partner. Before kids, your partner’s needs and wants mattered more, and you were more in tune with them. You had the time and attention to be. Now, the kids take precedence. They need you more or are at least more vocal about it.
So what can you do to make sure that you keep your relationship strong even when you don’t get to spend that much time together? There are many little things that you can do that will all add up to keep your relationship strong.
One of the biggest things you can do after you have kids is to shift your expectations of each other and be more forgiving. You’re both tired and are being pulled in so many more directions than you used to be. By giving each other a break when things don’t get done, or someone isn’t paying attention, you will help reduce stress.
Even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m also a work-from-home mom. Some days, I have deadlines, or the kids are cranky, and I don’t get everything done that I meant to. Instead of complaining, my husband cleans up. He might not always like it, but he understands that not every day is a good day. Dishes are pretty much at the bottom of my priority list, so he will get those done if I don’t get the chance. The same goes if he is worn out. I will distract the kids so he can take a breath.
Even if you don’t have large chunks of time to go out on dates, take advantage of the time you do have together. This time could be at naptime, when the kids are entertaining themselves, or after the kids are in bed. Use this time to reconnect, talk to each other, or cuddle. You may find that you miss the easy things you used to take for granted.
It can often feel like all you talk about anymore are the kids. If you find something else to talk about or a goal to work toward that doesn’t involve them, it will help you bond. It can be something as simple as retirement or savings. Seriously, my husband and I are bonding over revamping our family budget. I know that doesn’t sound sexy, but we are uniting in a common goal that doesn’t involve the kids. It’s just ours. And while it sounds funny, it’s been huge.
According to research, people who are more grateful are happier in their relationships. It’s so easy to take each other for granted, and parenting is mostly a thankless job. By simply thanking each other more often, you will both feel more appreciated. How much would a thank you help your mood after all the work you do as a mom? It could make a huge difference in how you feel about things.
It’s incredible how many mood problems can be solved by being rested and fed. Prioritizing sleep and eating can help you be in a better mood and avoid fights. Don’t forget to take care of what your body needs to be at its best. Research has shown that one of the reasons the transition to parenthood is so hard is because kids mess with the amount of sleep you get. You’re more irritable when you’re tired and more likely to get into silly fights.
I love my kids more than anything, but sometimes they can be exhausting, overwhelming, and just a pain. Commiserating with my husband does a lot to take some stress off. If there’s anyone who understands my frustration, it’s him. We are in this thing together, and it helps to remember that you have someone on your side.
Your concept of love might change when you have kids, but you still love your partner. Even though your relationship has changed since its inception, you must work to keep this union strong. Happy parents make for happy kids. When you’re a team and work together, everyone will benefit. By doing little things to show your partner that you still care, you are helping to keep your relationship strong—and it’s well worth the effort.