Even the happiest couples might find it hard to maintain a happy marriage after having their first baby. It’s an overwhelming experience, and no guide or course will ever have you fully prepared for it. Suddenly, you have no time for yourself, there’s no time for sex after pregnancy, you never get enough sleep and generally feel ready to kill, if not to drop dead yourself. So much for the perfect family portrait.
A tired, frustrated parent often has a go at his or her spouse, and the relationship might suffer. So what’s the solution for young parents?
First of all, it’s OK to feel completely bewildered. Nobody is born a parent, and balancing between parenting responsibilities and the rest of your life isn’t easy, especially for “beginners”. The good news are, that you are not alone in this boat, so there’s plenty that you and your spouse can do to make things easy for yourselves.
Let’s start with the basics. Share responsibilities. Support each other. It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that two are more than one. Remember that when caring for your baby. That’s the whole fun in it: what you’re doing is creating your first memories with your first child. You don’t want to miss that.
Take some time off parenting responsibilities. The baby will sure demand 120% of your time and energy, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a break. There’s nothing to feel guilty about. We all need to recharge our batteries from time to time. So make an effort to spend some quality time with your spouse, leaving your baby with relatives or a babysitter.
Oh, and no, you don’t have to take your child with you every time you go out. It’s OK to choose sleep over sex. When you’re awake around the clock, it’s perfectly natural not to be that interested. Right now, it’s important for both of you to get some sleep, and your sex life will get back to normal after a while. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with simply falling asleep in each other’s arms, holding your first baby.
You’ll find some detailed tips and strategies on this subject can be found in John Gottman’s “The Relationship Cure: 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships”, based on years of research and clinical experience.