Bringing a baby home for the first time changes everything. But it doesn’t have to change the love and connection you have with your partner. Below are three lessons my husband, Stranz, and I learned that have helped us argue better and connect more during our first year as parents.
Fatigue impacts your relationship, but doesn’t have to tear you apart.
The newborn phase typically means sleep deprivation. The fatigue Stranz and I experienced during those first few sleepless months was intense and impacted how we interacted. While there were moments when our exhaustion triggered conflict and disconnection, we tried to recognize and process them together.
On a practical level, we decided to split the parenting responsibilities as much as possible so we could take turns catching up on sleep.
On an emotional level, we talked it through and realized that when we are tired, I become overwhelmed and tearful and Stranz becomes easily frustrated and irritable. These reactions impacted our relationship, but also made sense given how exhausted we were.
Simply acknowledging these changes made those moments feel less threatening and more understandable. We learned to listen to our bodies, communicate our needs and give each other grace.
Quality time may be limited, but there’s always time to connect.
Before having our baby, I worried that we would lose quality time and that our entire focus would shift away from the marriage and to the baby. While the reality is that a baby requires a lot of time and attention, I have been pleasantly surprised with how simple it has been to maintain closeness in our marriage. We have learned that we can continue to feel connected even as our time is now spent very differently. We can connect over simple moments like navigating a stressful parenting situation together or holding hands as we fall into an exhausted sleep.
It’s been extremely important to stay emotionally connected by taking time to share the fears, stressors, dreams and hopes we are each experiencing as we navigate such a drastic life transition. These conversations can be during an official date night or simply while we are on a walk with our baby in the stroller. It turns out, the most small and simple moments can often be the most connecting.
Maintain ongoing communication as responsibilities change.
Babies change and evolve daily. One routine may work one day and then the next, we have to start from scratch with a new plan. It’s been crucial for us to have check-ins almost every day about who is taking on what responsibilities and how we can support our growing family.
Who is doing daycare drop-off? Pick-up? Who will do bathtime? Dishes? Morning feeding? Night feeding? Etc. There are so many new and ever-changing responsibilities to navigate. By maintaining ongoing communication and flexibility around roles and responsibilities, we have been able to more effectively show up for each other and get the support we need.
Nurture your connection.
The key to maintaining a close, happy, healthy relationship is to maintain open communication. As you continue to share what you need and how you can support your partner amidst the drastic shifts of becoming new parents, you will maintain the beautiful, secure connection you value so much.
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