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When a tiny human bursts onto the scene and infiltrates your home, making time in your relationship for things like sex, cuddles, and date nights might seem impossible. Before you let your relationship with your husband after baby flounder, why not look for exciting ways to connect with your partner?
Adjusting to life as parents is no easy feat; unfortunately, it can sometimes end up pulling people apart.
It doesn’t have to, though.
Take the time to recognize potential problems that might arise, along with possible solutions. You can overcome these challenges and maintain the healthy relationship you and your partner deserve.
However, logical thinking can go out the window when you’re in the midst of the early days of parenthood. Rather than prioritizing our relationships, some of us push them to the back burner in hopes of “dealing with it later.”
Whether you’re searching for tips for the future or trying to reconnect with your partner post-baby, there are plenty of ways to reignite the romance flame.
From reinventing your sex life after baby to finding new ways of achieving intimacy, we’ve got you covered.
Long story short: taking care of romantic relationships while navigating the land of dirty diapers and exhaustion might be challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible!
What Do Relationships Look Like After Having a Newborn Baby? Statistics You Should Know!
Did you know that 67% of couples experience decreased marital satisfaction after having a baby?
So that means only 33% of couples feel satisfied in their romantic partnership after expanding their families, which is pretty shocking if you ask me!
Another stat from the National Childbirth Trust tells us that 9 out of 10 couples argue MORE after having a new baby.
Between lifestyle adjustments, fatigue, confusion, and irritability during the early days of our postpartum period, it’s no wonder our relationships take the brunt of our parenting stress.
But what do those difficulties look like?
Below is a list of the most common relationship complaints, disagreements, and challenges many of us face after baby’s arrival.
Common Challenges in Relationships After Baby’s Arrival
Every relationship might be unique, but that doesn’t mean we don’t experience similar challenges after having a baby. Many of us, myself included, will experience issues like the ones below:
1. Disagreements About the Division of Household Chores and Baby Care
Have you and your partner ever argued about whose turn it is to change the baby? Do you feel like you’re the only person in the household washing dishes?
Problems like these might seem small, but they can feel insurmountable when transitioning into new parenthood.
2. Wanting Time to Yourself
After childbirth, it doesn’t take much to start feeling like an overstimulated or “touched out” parent.
When it constantly seems like one of your family members needs your undivided attention, it can leave you pining for a few minutes to yourself.
3. Dealing With Pushy or Toxic Grandparents
Once a new grandbaby hits the scene, many grandparents want to spend every waking moment hanging around your house.
This can be frustrating!
While many of us appreciate the extra set of hands, it can lead to disagreements between partners if you don’t get along with your in-laws or if you feel smothered by someone else’s continual presence in your house.
4. There’s Less Room in the Schedule for “Couple Time”
Finding time together as a couple can feel impossible after having a baby. Your relationship might suddenly feel like it’s lacking things like date nights, meaningful conversations, and sex.
Then, when you do find time to spend with each other, you might disagree about how you want to spend it.
Tips to Enhance Your Intimate Connection After Having a Baby
Let me quickly clarify something–I don’t view intimacy and sex as the same thing. While making love is definitely one way to achieve an intimate connection with your partner, building a romantic bond doesn’t always mean jumping into bed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we all know boosting our sex lives after a baby is essential, so later in this article, I’ll provide some tips for that specific topic.
For now, though, the suggestions below are non-sex-related.
They’re simply ways to reignite the marital flame and spend time together when your schedule is suddenly cramped with a crying, pooping third wheel.
1. Utilize Words of Affirmation
Many of us have heard of the “five love languages.” Did you know the third most common of these is “words of affirmation,” though?
If you want to rebuild your relationship with your partner after baby, it’s incredible how far a simple compliment or gratitude can go.
In 2021, the Harvard Business Review published an article on the value of compliments and appreciation within the workplace. Despite limiting their findings to a professional setting, the overall benefits remain the same, whether in an office or home.
While the studies behind this article prove many of us are reluctant to express words of affirmation because we don’t believe they will do much, the findings are actually quite the opposite.
Compliments leave us feeling empowered and valued. They also provide a natural mood boost that can alleviate anxiety, stress, guilt, and other negative emotions.
Whether you thank your partner for doing the dishes or remind them how attractive they are, kind words can go far when dealing with a lack of intimacy after baby.
2. Compromise When it Comes to Child Care and Housework
Okay, no one enjoys changing dirty diapers or dealing with piles of laundry. At the end of the day, though, tasks like these demand our attention.
If you want to decrease the amount of resentment and arguing happening in your home, it’s crucial for all partners to do their equal share of the work.
Whether you work out a rotating schedule for chores or split them up, compromise is essential to day-to-day tasks. You could work on the floors and bathrooms while your partner handles the laundry and dishes, for instance. It doesn’t matter how you split things up as long as one individual doesn’t feel responsible for everything.
The same thing goes for taking care of littles.
It’s helpful to figure out a system and schedule where both of you are contributing. Not only will this help keep the peace in your relationship, but it will bring you even closer when you’re working together.
Consider using the notes app, or any other list-making app, to help. Write down the chores (bottle washing, baby changing, house resetting) that need to happen in the morning, noon, and night, and then decide who should take each one. That way the non-birthing partner always knows what to do to help and when.
3. Schedule Date Nights in Advance
Your schedule and routine might feel slightly chaotic during the first years as new parents. Suddenly, weeks or months will go by before you realize you’ve done nothing but try to keep your head above water with professional and personal responsibilities.
Amidst this, finding time for a date night with your spouse is easy to forget.
Carving out quality time together is crucial for maintaining a healthy connection.
After our oldest was born, my husband and I talked one day and realized almost three months had passed without us spending quality time together sans baby. From that point forward, we promised each other to dedicate one night a month to date night.
We scheduled things in advance and made plans for what we would do. Not only did it give us something to look forward to each month, but putting things on the calendar early ensured we didn’t let time slip by without a date.
Lean on your social support to make this happen for your relationship after baby’s arrival. Whether you entrust a grandparent, friend, or sitter, ask someone to help with your little one, you won’t regret taking a moment to yourselves.
And don’t let parenting guilt prevent you from enjoying this time with your partner. Your romantic relationship is an integral part of your family dynamic–treat it with the care and effort it deserves.
4. Don’t Forget About Non-Sexual Physical Touch
As I said, we’ll get to sex in a minute, but for now, it’s worth touching on the importance of other physical connections in your relationship.
Physical touch is essential in any relationship, whether you cuddle on the couch, kiss each other every night before bed, or stop in the middle of the chaos for a hug. It makes each partner feel appreciated and cared for, and research shows it can also decrease stress levels.
Science shows us that touch also helps us produce oxytocin – aka the “love hormone.”
So, no, you don’t have to make out like teenagers or have sex twice a day (unless you want to, of course!), but small physical acts of affection are one of our favorite ways to be intimate after a baby.
5. Take Care of Yourself, Too
You might think that the best ways to improve your relationship after baby are to fully focus on your partner. While giving them attention is undoubtedly vital, it’s not the only thing that matters.
You need to take care of yourself, too!
Parenthood comes with a whirlwind of elements that can leave us drained and overwhelmed. From sleep deprivation to fluctuating hormones, it’s no surprise that many of us struggle with feeling good and “normal” after becoming a new mom.
However, the problem is that when you can barely take care of yourself, little energy will be left to tend to your relationship.
This is why self-care for moms and parents, in general, is so important.
Try your best to carve out time each day for yourself. This can be as simple as journaling for a few minutes or resting during the baby’s nap time.
6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Talking to your spouse is one of the most beneficial things you can do to reconnect after baby’s arrival.
This doesn’t just mean having a conversation, although that is EXTREMELY important. It’s also about remaining honest about how you’re feeling. Rather than burying your feelings about what’s going on, get them out in the open and clear the air immediately.
Maintaining an open line of communication is the best way to address problems and explain what you want and need from your partnership.
Boosting Your Sex Life After Baby
Ok, now it’s time to get to the good stuff–your sex life after baby!
Sexual intimacy is a very personal thing. There is no perfect amount of sex or type of sex that is ideal for every relationship.
What IS known, however, is the importance of a healthy sexual partnership. That means creating a sex life that works for both partners.
Unfortunately, getting down to business after childbirth is not always as simple as it seems.
From body image issues to a lack of spontaneity, reigniting the passion in your relationship can take effort.
While the suggestions above are a great way to start when you’re trying to improve sexual intimacy, the tips below might also help:
- Wait Until the Doctor Clears You for Intercourse: Your postpartum body has gone through a lot. For the best chance at a healthy sexual relationship after baby, don’t rush things until your doctor says it’s okay.
- Don’t Forget About Foreplay: Instead of jumping into the main event, take your time with your partner. Foreplay is essential to rebuilding your sexual connection. Plus, the longer you build up the anticipation, the increased chance of natural lubrication since vaginal dryness can be a problem after childbirth and breastfeeding.
- Buy Some Lube: This goes back to the vaginal dryness issue. Let’s face it; enjoyable sex requires a fair amount of “moisture.” Purchase a high-quality lubricant, and don’t be stingy when using it!
- Don’t Expect Miracles the First Time: Just like your real first time, when you have sex again after baby, it might not be the best right away. Give yourselves some time to “get back in the groove” and for you to fully understand the strengths and limitations post-baby body.
- Go Shopping for New Lingerie: I don’t know about you all, but putting on a pretty set of lingerie always makes me feel better about myself. It might help you get into the mood, plus I’m pretty sure your partner will appreciate it! And if you aren’t feeling ready to bare it all in lingerie, go to Target and grab a new set of pretty pajamas. It doesn’t have to be super sexy; it just needs to not be covered in baby spit-up!
- Communicate: I know we’ve already talked about communication, but it bears repeating. Talk to each other about what you want sexually. Be vocal about your needs and what feels good and doesn’t.
- Have Fun: This might be the most important way to improve your sexual relationship with your husband after baby–try to kick back and enjoy yourself. Making love to your partner shouldn’t be a chore; make sure you’re both having fun while you’re at it.
Relationship Satisfaction Might Look Different After Kids, But It’s Still Possible
We can’t deny our relationships will look different once kids are in the picture. That doesn’t mean that they have to be bad. In fact, as we become parents, our intimate connections with our partners can become even deeper and more enjoyable than before. If we allow them to, that is.
Remember that your relationship after baby is valuable and WORTH the effort of getting back to a level of intimacy that is comfortable to you both.
It’s easy to get busy with the minutiae of day-to-day life, but it’s crucial to set aside time and energy to focus on rebuilding intimacy with our partners.
What types of things have you done to work on your relationship with your husband after baby?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.