Sure you expected to be splitting diaper duty and waking up in the middle of the night for feedings. But you probably didn’t expect to wonder whether or not you partner has always chewed with his mouth open. Or how you failed to notice that he never makes the bed. Having a baby really does change everything, including your relationship.
Here are the five biggest changes to your relationship and how to deal with relationship problems after having a baby!
You’ll Start Keeping Score
We won’t use the word “fight,” but you may notice an increase in bickering between you and your partner. No matter how hard you try, becoming a family of three may not allow you to live the same life you enjoyed pre-baby. The laundry you used to be able to put off doing for a week, now needs to be done every few days. You can try to procrastinate laundry days, but fair warning: Dirty onesies smell pretty bad.
The division of household and baby-related chores might equate to 50-50, but you may find yourself keeping track of who did what. This can lead to increased tension (and possibly resentment) between you and your partner and added stress on your relationship. Nurture your relationship by planning a weekly (or monthly) date night or even more frequent at home date nights. Go out of your way to be kind to one another and don’t forget the magic words “please” and “thank you” go a long way.
You’ll Have Different Parenting Styles
Even if you had long conversations about how to raise your child, sleep-deprivation can do funny things to your convictions. One of you may be eager to grab the pacifier at the first signs of fussiness, while the other may have a stern take on a bad habit that can be hard to break.
Compromise is key here. Read articles about types of parenting methods that differ from your own and discuss the pros and cons with your partner. For hot button issues, it’s best to discuss the options with your pediatrician and make sure you’re following the guidelines endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other governing organizations.
Sex Will Be A Distant Memory
Of course you still love your partner and you may want sex, but you’ll probably want sleep more. Most parents find that they have sex half as often and when they do, it’s twice the hassle.
Rekindle those flames by making time for your partner. You might laugh, but scheduling sex may be the only way it’ll happen. So find a date, shave your legs and flirt a little! Making your relationship a priority won’t make you a bad parent, but it will reduce relationship conflict.
Money May Be More of a Stressor
All that baby-size stuff adds ups and it can be overwhelming to think about how to afford another member of the family. And for parents who decide to go back to work after maternity leave, the cost of childcare can be startling.
Take time to sit down with your partner and understand your finances. Note any recurring expenses like mortgage or rent, car payments and monthly bills. Then identify any disposable income and create a budget for how that money will be allocated towards baby-related expenses. By having a set plan, you can lessen any money related relationship conflicts.
Sure she means well, but having your mother-in-law visit for days at a time can be extremely stressful. And your partner may not be thrilled that you asked your mom to stay with you for the first week after bringing your baby home.
It can be helpful to manage expectations of family and friends before your baby arrives. Discuss the time you’d like to spend with your immediate family with your partner and create a calendar for when visitors will be coming. Stick to the calendar to avoid any additional stress and use it as a way to manage any new requests from family and friends.
Despite all the changes (and stressors), you and your partner will a develop a new bond as you transition from a couple to a family and you will survive those first few months. Learning to embrace and respect each others’ differences can make a world of difference in your relationship. Find tips for adjusting to your new role as mom here.