It’s safe to say that the diaper commercials and rom-coms are lying to us when they send the message that “your adorable bundle of joy is guaranteed to make parents’ relationships stronger.” But the truth is, the transition from a relationship shared by two to parenthood can be stressful – and the stress makes it difficult to be a loving partner.
With severe lack of sleep, increased demands for your time and attention, and fights over parenting duties, it’s no surprise that many couples – even the strong ones – struggle to stay in love with each other.
While taking care of your little one while keeping the relationship strong takes a lot of work, you can do something to keep the love alive.
1. Acknowledge your partner’s struggles
When we’ve had enough, it’s easy to point fingers and play the “who’s the better parent” game. Perhaps, you feel like you’re doing more parenting and household chores than your significant other, who just acts up every time he’s being called. But keep in mind that both of you are dealing with major identity shift, along with other stressful events at work.
Take a pause and try to be more understanding with each other. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Remind yourselves that you’re a team.
2. Prioritize sleep
The lack of sleep is one of the major reasons why the transition to parenthood is tough on relationships, according to couples therapy experts. When you’re running low on sleep, you feel more irritable and hostile. You’re more likely to fight more and resolve conflicts poorly.
Even if you’re waking up to care for your child, there are certain things you can do to prioritize sleep. Avoid taking your phone or tablet to bed, try to get power naps, and talk about how you can divide up the night wakings so that both can get a bit of consolidated sleep click here for night quotes.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Does your partner snap at you or forget to do something you’ve asked them to do? Or maybe you feel like they’re not as affectionate as you’d like? Instead of taking things personally and getting angry about minor relationship issues, try to blame it on external causes, like lack of sleep, tiredness, or baby-induced memory loss. Doing so can help you keep things in perspective and hopefully prevent big fights. Learn to let go of the small annoyances and make up.
4. Recognize your partner’s needs
Whether your partner admits it or not, they want to be “babied” too. They want kisses, cuddles, and probably a basket of homemade buffalo wings and a nice back massage. This works both ways.
5. Set aside time to have tough conversations
Schedule your fights – seriously. Instead of having those resentment-driven conflicts every single late-night, schedule it weekly. If you have complaints, you may say “if it’s not urgent, we can talk about it on Friday.” The moment you’re about to talk about it, it won’t be as agitating. Your heads will be cool enough to seek resolutions.
6. Appreciate the little things
From complimenting the dinner he prepared while you’re taking care of the baby to thanking him for picking you up early, a little gratitude could go a long way.
Be appreciative of the little things. Recognize your partner’s efforts. Let your partner feel how thankful you are that you’re sharing this chaotic journey with him.
7. Keep your emotions in check
Every time to choose to lash out, make sure you’re not hungry, tired, or sleep-deprived. Make sure you’re also not driven by your resentment.
Be careful with your choice of words too. Avoid name-calling, direct criticisms, swearing, and other harsh remarks that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. Saying “I’d appreciate you changing the diapers and bathing the baby tonight” sounds nicer than “you never help and you’re always on your phone.”
This way, you can express your frustration in a way that doesn’t cause your partner to feel hurt and defensive.
8. Find time to cuddle and connect
It doesn’t matter if it’s hours, minutes, or seconds – a simple snuggling session on the couch or a casual back hug while someone’s cooking can go a long way.
Find time to talk. It doesn’t need to be the highlights of the day – talk about anything, like verbalizing how much you miss spending time together, or how much you miss sex and sleep. When watching Netflix, cuddle or hold hands while you do it. Start a new hobby together. Find time to laugh together. You may even schedule a date night when the critical infant care stage is over and look forward to it.
And no matter how busy you are, don’t forget to check up on your partner and say “I love you”.
People say that having a baby can drastically change your relationship with your partner. It can either make your relationship collapse or make it even stronger. I guess we all want the latter.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Relationship Room Couples Counseling, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and therapies for couples and families. She may be hopeless romantic but she’s got some straightforward pieces of advice about love, dating, and relationships.