Parenthood brings a slew of things with it: an unconditional love like you’ve never known in your entire life, sleep deprivation, anxieties and fears…and an adjustment in your relationship with your SO. Sometimes that adjustment requires you to find new ways to reconnect with your spouse.
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Hubs and I were among the last of our friends to have a baby, especially since we were both nearing 40. As a result, we’ve been privy to many of their musings and advice on maintaining one’s marriage while navigating parenthood.
Some of the complaints we’ve heard:
“I feel so neglected. She’s all about the baby.”
“We’re not that close anymore since the baby got here.”
“She/He/We are just not into sex anymore and it’s hurting our relationship.”
“She’s just so tired all the time.”
“We never go on date nights anymore.”
“My husband works so much, he never has time for me or the baby.”
I am definitely not a relationship expert by any means…nor have Hubs and I been exempt from similar growing pains in our own relationship. I feel so lucky and blessed to have a partner who has similar values and approach to parenting as I do, though. It seems to be half the battle.
As with most things in life, communication is key.
We’ve had our fair share of disagreements and misunderstandings. But we always try to talk it out and clear the air.
If you and your SO are not seeing eye to eye and can’t seem to resolve your issues on your own, I’d definitely recommend therapy. Go to an individual who is trained in helping others! It definitely helped us when we were going through IVF.
Life with a baby has brought many changes for us. I became a SAHM, which brought us down to one income. The sleep deprivation is no joke. Hubs has been working harder to make sure all of our needs are met.
We’ve been offered many date nights by several friends, which is very kind. Hubs and I just aren’t that comfortable leaving her yet. Nugget was also EBF, which made going out more challenging because she wouldn’t take a bottle. (Now she drinks from a cup, so that’s not really an issue.) Truth be told, we just really enjoy her company! So we end up taking her with us on dates.
This may not work for everyone and I totally get it. If that’s the case, get a sitter and go on that date night!
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have family or friends or funds for a babysitter. If that’s your situation, do date night at home! Maybe after the bebe is asleep? Popcorn and Netflix on the couch? Game night? Sexy time?
After talking with several friends, I’ve come the conclusion that for many, a traditional date night (out) is simply not affordable (at least on a regular basis). Between the cost of a sitter and dinner, we’re looking at well over $100. Huh.
There are other ways to connect other than a night out. Here are some more affordable ways:
- Stick a post-it note on the bathroom mirror with a compliment on it. Have you ever read 5 Love Languages? If your hubs loves words of affirmation, this is a great way to start his day! Even if this isn’t his love language, who doesn’t love hearing nice things about themselves? You can also slip a love note into his lunchbox/briefcase/backpack…someplace where he’ll find it in the middle of his day…or send him a sweet text…something to let him know you’re thinking of him.
**I can’t remember where I read this…maybe The Secret? You can strengthen your relationship by genuinely complimenting/expressing gratitude to your loved one every day for 30 days. What a great idea!** By showing our appreciation, we in turn tend to get more appreciation back.
- Make his favorite meal. They say the way to a man’s heart is his stomach, right? (Shoot, it’s definitely a way to my heart and I’m a woman!) Who wouldn’t love to be surprised with their favorite, home cooked meal? I love seeing the look on Hub’s face when he takes a bite of my tuna casserole, closes his eyes, and says, “Ah…I could eat this every day!” (For me, it’s his steak on the grill.)
- Hug/kiss every day. This may be hard to do for people with opposite work schedules…but try. Hubs and I are usually very good about this but I’m not going to lie…there have been days that have crept by when I thought, “Oh my goodness! Did I even see him today???” Make it a point to physically connect at least once a day if you can. It cracks us up when Nugget giggles with glee every time Hubs and I embrace. All the more reason for us to hug and kiss!
- Don’t let your love life slip away. I know for many new parents, making love may seem like the last thing on their minds…especially for moms who are still recovering! Do what’s right for you and on your timeline. Make sure to talk about it and try to be on the same page. Express your needs to each other. If the lovemaking is not happening right away, that’s ok too. Many moms are dealing with fluctuating hormones, pain/discomfort, or postpartum body issues. Many dads are also dealing with issues of their own. Parents in general are exhausted!
- Give each other a massage. Hubs and I are always achy and sore…between his job and my lifting and carrying Nugget all day, we are both excited when one of us asks, “Would you like a massage?” Because time (and time with each other alone) is at a premium, a massage is usually given in conjunction with us watching a TV show together. Because…multitasking.
- Spend some quality time together. Quality time for everyone varies. Back in the day, quality time for me would’ve been a nice dinner out followed by a stroll down a busy street window shopping or an activity like bowling or bike riding. Now quality time is watching a show from our DVR together and eating some cookies on the couch. Whatever QT looks like for you or your spouse, do it every now and then!
- Eat dinner together at the table…with no screen time. I’m very old-fashioned in this regard…but I believe in the benefits of eating together as a family sans screen. I love the simplicity of sharing a meal and having conversation and really connecting. Even if this isn’t the norm in your home, give it a try every now and again!
- Surprise him. Is there something Hubs has been wanting/talking about? Has he mentioned anything in passing? Do you notice anything that he needs? (New socks, a phone charger, batteries for his electric razor?) A sweet and simple gesture goes a long way.
- Add some humor to the mix. Are either of you practical jokers? Do you have private jokes between yourselves? Is there something in particular you know would crack him up?
- Let him sleep in. This is a HUGE thing in any parents’ household, right??? Definitely take turns but I think hubs will greatly appreciate the extra zzz’s (if he’s not already getting them, LOL).
- Listen to him. I know I have been guilty of telling Hubs, “You never listen!” Ask your spouse how his day was. Or let him initiate the conversation. Then really listen.
- Say those three little words daily. Words have power. The power to uplift, the power to comfort, the power to inflict pain. “I love you” is important to hear!
- Give him a mulligan. Sometimes, we all just need a “hall pass”. We all make mistakes, say things we shouldn’t in the heat of the moment, act irrationally, etc., etc. Sometimes, it’s ok to just let it go without beating it on the head like a dead horse.
Do these things without any expectations.
The best gifts are the ones we did not expect. The sweetest acts of kindness are the ones that are done without asking for anything in return. Do them because you want to, not because you have to or feel you need to.
HOWEVER, that being said…since this post is about reconnecting, I feel it’s important that both parties actively participate. So if there’s something you’d like Hubs to do for you, in the words of my Hubs, “just ask”. He may not know what it is you desire. If you want flowers or a chance to sleep in or some quality time together…communicate that to him. Tell him how you’d like to be loved and show him how much you love him. Then take a step back and let him show you.
What are some ways you reconnect with your spouse? Please leave a comment!