Relationships are hard. I have tried and failed at some myself along the way. Relationships + parenting: even harder. It’s time to discuss the one thing that no one told you to plan for; that one thing that was not on your registry. Baby proofing your marriage!
Sure, you knew the first couple of weeks and even months are supposed to be a little rough. But who forgot to mention that you would be a new person and so would your partner?
If you have chosen to go on this parenting journey with someone, I want to help you make that partnership a strong one. As meticulously and tediously as you planned for that little one, I want you take a few minutes now to plan the baby-proofing of your marriage, and then take a lifetime doing it together (well at least the next 18 years). Yes, baby-proofing your marriage.
Despite the profound amount of joy our children bring into our lives, they also bring anxiety, frustration, worry, and maybe even some fear depending on what type of childhood we experienced. All of us were brought up differently; these differences can be magnified when you are new parents and starting to find that you are not always on the same page with parenting decisions. And being tired, cranky, and possibly hormonal does not help matters.
But don’t worry – here are some simple tips to put you on the road to parenting and marital bliss:
1. Schedule a date night.
It sounds a bit cheesy and maybe even like common sense. But ask around and see how many actually make it happen. Don’t let being a parent completely take over your life. It’s important to understand that you have to make time to be a spouse, even if that means prying yourself away for a 30 minute walk together once a week. “Date Night” doesn’t have to be at night, it doesn’t even have to be a traditional date! It just has to be regularly scheduled chance where you know you will able to connect with one another as partners, not parents.
2. Budget for a little extra help if you can.
When people are asking you what you need for the baby, this is it. You will need help with cleaning, laundry, and some fresh healthy foods made by friends and family or delivered. Many couples spend needless energy fighting over chores. Be creative, barter one of your talents for some cleaning or home cooked meals. Cut back on Starbucks, lunches and dinners out, and some of those cute baby outfits. Each day take the money you would have spent and put it into a jar. At the end of one month most of you will find there is enough saved to outsource some of your housekeeping duties.
Tried this exercise, and still coming up short? You can search for websites like Flexjobs.com for credible work at home job opportunities using skills that you may be taking for granted. Reaching out to your local moms group can be a great way to find support and resources. International MOMS club or momsclub.org is a great organization if you are not sure where to connect with other mothers in your area.
3. Have realistic expectations.
How gender roles were defined in your home growing up impact our relationships and how we parent. Talk with your partner about these feelings so you each have the opportunity to understand one another. I can’t tell you how many moms have expressed how birthing a child redefined and prioritized their lives in an instant.
For some, a high-powered corporate job isn’t quite as appealing anymore and they dream of becoming a stay at home mom, but are at odds with a partner who expected them to return to work after three months. Others feel re-energized in their careers and are looking forward to returning to work, but have a partner who expects them to be a full-time mother. If you find you are not able to resolve issues together search for a couples therapist in your area that can provide you with guidance. Seeking help doesn’t mean your broken… it means your healthy!
4. Have sex.
Again all parties involved need to be realistic about whatever your sex life was, is, and is going to become. However, this is admittedly an area that can be easily overlooked, and not just by the ladies! The truth is couples who strive to have sex lives that comfortably meet the emotional and physical needs of both partners often report greater overall satisfaction in their relationships. If childbirth has led to physical or hormonal challenges with intercourse it is important to talk to your partner about this early on and seek medical evaluation if necessary. Not sure where to go for help? www.drlauraberman.com is a great resource for books and advice on love, sex, and relationships.
Here is the good news – by spending a little time each week planning ways to stay connected to your partner, you may actually find that when you are blowing out the candles for your little one’s first birthday you are closer to each other than you ever were before.
More than just loving your partner, you respect and cherish them for all they have become and what you have been able to overcome working together. Now go and get started baby-proofing your marriage, your little one is depending on it!