Becoming first time parents is definitely a character building experience, I’ll tell you that much! Parenthood is a wild and wonderful journey with many twists and turns, ups and downs, a whole lot of laughing and many tears.
Suddenly a tiny human becomes the centre of attention, everything is about the baby… everything! Are they hungry? Tired? Too hot? Too cold? Nappy change? Teething? Cuddles? Majority of this falls upon the mother (depending on situation obviously) which leaves the spouse feeling somewhat neglected. Totally understandable.
Here are a few ways to get through the first year of parenthood with your relationship intact.
Just like in any healthy relationship, communication is so important, even more so when you have children. Going from two people with lots of time for each other to a whole new dynamic of three, is a big transition. The father (or spouse) is often left on the sideline while all his partners attention goes into the new baby, this often leaves him feeling neglected in the relationship and like his only use is to go to work, which can be tough. The new mother, who often tries to do everything, feels pressure to tend to the baby AND look after the partners needs emotionally and physically, as well as keep the house in order. This leads to burn out and with both parties feeling like their cup is half empty, conflict can arise.
The solution is communication and direct honest conversation about how each person is feeling and dealing with the stressors in their life. The mother and father live in very different worlds right now so compassion and perspective are important to smooth out any bumps in the road.
Listen to each other.
Communication is useless if you don’t also LISTEN to each other.
In my relationship, we were both so adamant on getting each other to see it from our own perspective that we weren’t actually listening to what the other person had to say. We would go round and round in circles saying the same thing, both complaining that we didn’t feel heard or listened to, which was true!
You get out what you put in, if you want someone to do something that you yourself are not doing, you will never get the outcome you desire.
We discovered we were both feeling exactly the same, which led on to asking questions like “What can I do to make your life easier?”, “What do you need from our relationship?”, “How can I make you feel more loved/heard/wanted in our relationship?”. Then LISTEN to the answer and make changes to the best of your ability, when both parties do this, magic happens.
Make time for just the two of you.
This one can be challenging, especially if you don’t have supportive family or friends who will help out with child-minding. Baby-free time is so important to gain back your connection and feel like a couple again, it doesn’t have to be an elaborate date at a fancy restaurant, (but go for it if you want!) it could just be spending time together after bubba is in bed and you have a few hours in the evening. We would get a few snacks to share and watch a movie together, or spend time talking and checking in with each other, this is a good time to bring the spark back to the bedroom if you so desire. Make the most of your evenings together, home is where the heart is so don’t get complacent.
Life is a balancing act with a lot of trial and error, relationships in general highlight this fact. As long as you communicate and listen to each other with the intention of listening, rather than replying, you will get through.
My partner and I push each other to be better people every single day, we call each other out, we argue and it’s not always easy… The love is there however, we have never stopped growing and evolving together to be the best we can be for ourselves and our son. It takes work pushing ego to the side but it’s totally worth it to build a lasting and fulfilling relationship.