3 Simple Ways To Reconnect With Your Spouse After A Baby
A few months after becoming a new mom, I had the opportunity to interview Egypt Sherrod. We talked about quite a bit during our chat, but what stood out to me the most was when she told me that she and her husband had become like roommates following the birth of their first child together.
“When we had my daughter Kendall, who is now 7 and a half, I think we did everything wrong,” she shared during our interview. “For like two years, we became like roommates. When we found each again, what we vowed to do was to make sure that we put our relationship as a priority as well.”
The thought of falling into a roommate-like routine with my husband sounded scary because you always hear about that being the first pit-stop to the breakdown of a marriage. Truthfully, part of me could already feel us slipping into roommate territory, but at five months postpartum, I was still averaging only three hours of sleep per night, and just I didn’t have the energy to put up a fight. So, I didn’t resist.
For a long time, probably a little too long, I was content with the way things were. My idea of affection and sweet gestures was having my husband take the baby in the morning so that I could sleep late, loading the dishwasher after dinner, or bringing home food on his way back from the barbershop so I didn’t have to cook. As long as those things were happening, I could honestly care less about kisses, hugs, or any other form of intimacy. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, the state that we were in suddenly began to feel uncomfortable. However, I was really surprised by how much work reconnecting took at first.
“It seems to have been the norm for so many couples to say to themselves, ‘Now that the kids are here, we’ll focus on the kids. Our day will come,’” Michele Weiner-Davis, a marriage and family therapist told The New York Times. “But here’s the bad news from someone who’s been on the front lines with couples for decades. Unless you treat your relationship, your marriage, like it’s a living thing — which requires nurturing on a regular basis — you won’t have a marriage after the kids leave home.”
Of course, all of this is a lot easier said than done, so here are some tips to help you get started.
Take care of yourself, first
“When you experience your partner’s desire for intimacy as an intrusion, ask yourself, ‘How deprived am I in my own self-care? What do I need to do to take care of myself in order to feel connected to my own sexuality?’” said Dr. Alexandra Sacks, a reproductive psychiatrist and host of the “Motherhood Sessions” podcast told the Times.
Show gratitude and appreciation
Childrearing is absolutely exhausting and it can test the strongest of marriages, but researchers with the University of Georgia found that a little gratitude can go a long way in protecting marriages against the effects of conflict.
“In any healthy relationship both partners are investing time and energy for the well being of the family,” said Allen Barton, researcher and author of the study. “So asking your spouse whether they feel appreciated and finding ways to acknowledge them for the things they do each day, from doing the dishes to watching the kids, goes a long way.”
Plan activities and outings
“The initial romantic love relationship lasts less than two years for most couples. Inhibited desire affects one in three couples (McCarthy, 2013),” explained Dianne Grande, Ph.D. in an essay for Psychology Today. “Putting date night back into the routine can help couples work as a team to rekindle desire.”