By Marie Osborne
“First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” Or so the song goes. But after baby, what happens to love and marriage?
If you’ve made that transition from married couple to married with kids, you know that reconnecting after your baby comes is difficult to maneuver. Many of us picture parenthood as a unifying force, something that will bring unending joy, fulfillment and love. We aren’t prepared for the ways it can also tax a marriage, bringing conflict and stress that can strain even the most stable unions.
Here are some tips to get you through the first weeks and months (and maybe years) of child-rearing:
1) Build your friendship
There are many ingredients to a successful marriage, but one of the most essential is a solid friendship. This is a time in life when you need goodwill, support, encouragement, and companionship flowing back and forth between you and your partner. A strong friendship will fuel your marriage and your parenting partnership. Share a hobby. Make each other laugh. Be silly. Forget the laundry and diapers and cooking for a minute, and just be friends.
2) Separate household tasks
There will be a ton to do. Literally. If parenting duties could be placed on a scale, I’m sure they would weigh in at over 2000 lbs. Make sure you discuss how to divvy up the household and parenting tasks, so you have a plan in place and neither of you feel you are doing this alone.
3) Don’t keep score
When you feel like you are working non-stop, it will be very tempting to keep track of who is doing what. Or more accurately, keep track of how you are doing “everything” and your spouse is doing “nothing.” Fight it. Don’t keep score. Instead, keep track of what your spouse is doing well, and praise him often. He’ll be encouraged, and you will become a positive, uplifting wife rather than a nagging, negative one.
4) Schedule alone time
You really need some time for yourself. And so does your spouse. Adding a child to the mix means for more togetherness than either of you is used to. Sit down together at the beginning of the week and figure out when each of you will get a chance to be on your own, with no spouse and no baby to care for. You’ll return to each other rejuvenated and ready to reconnect.
5) Build community
Connecting with other new parents can be tremendously helpful in strengthening your relationship with your spouse. A community of comrades, all supporting each other as you take on parenting together, is extremely important. Look for a group of young parents at your local church, meet some moms (and their husbands) through MOPS, or stay connected with some couples from your birthing class. However you meet them, it’s important to have community support to encourage a strong marriage.
6) Set boundaries with friends and family
Friends and family can be incredibly helpful, but they can also be a source of stress and conflict. Maybe your mother comes over too often and voices too many opinions. Maybe your friends keep visiting and over staying their welcome. Whatever the case, you need to be a united front. Discuss and set boundaries together for how to handle family and friends in order to put your marriage first, your child second, and all other relationships thereafter.
7) Act like you like each other
Remember when you were dating, and you got a thrill just from holding hands? The surest way to fan the flames of romance is to act romantic, even when you don’t feel it. Sit close to one another. Hold hands. Look at him, a good long lingering look, and remember the boy who swept you off your feet. For God’s sake, smile! Acting like you like him will remind you (and him) why you actually do!
8) Don’t forget date night (out and in)
Of course, a great way to reconnect with your hubby is a good old-fashioned date. Who doesn’t feel all warm and fuzzy after a fancy dinner with no dishes to wash come night’s end? Find a good babysitter or swap babysitting with other parents. Get out of the house, away from all the diapers and laundry and be just you two again (as it was before baby made three). Plan some date nights in, too. After baby has gone to bed or during nap time, snuggle with your spouse on the couch. Drink a glass of wine, watch a movie. Ignore all the chores, set aside the laptops and iPads, put down your favorite book. You may not be at a fancy restaurant, but you can still reignite that spark, even in your living room.
9) Set the mood
Let’s not overlook the bedroom! Sexual intimacy can take a hit after kids, so it’s important to “set the mood.” Keep your bedroom, or at least your bed, as baby-free as possible. Burp clothes, onesies, lactation pads, and diapers don’t usually inspire sexual desire. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for you and your spouse. Take a quick shower before bed, and change into something that makes you feel more attractive, even if you’ve been in pajamas all day. Having a special nightgown that has never been spit-up on or otherwise used for mothering might be just what you need to reconnect romantically.
Pray for your marriage. There are a million worries for this new little human life, a million things you can pray for your child’s present and future. But don’t stop praying for the relationship that started it all. Pray for your spouse. Pray that you will be a good spouse. Pray for strength in your sin struggles as you strive to serve your family to the best of your ability. Pray. Pray. Pray.
How did you reconnect with your spouse after baby’s arrival? Share your tips and ideas with us!
Hi there! I'm Marie Osborne, a blogger, wife, & stay-at-home mom who loves Jesus & laughs often (rather loudly, usually at myself). But more importantly, I'm here in the trenches right beside you, candidly sharing my sinner's journey, running after Jesus, stubbornly committed to my marriage, battling my sin nature as I strive for grace-filled motherhood, and daily wrapping myself in His mercy, comfort and love. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to be encouraged, challenged, and laugh together. Visit my website to read more!