It’s a terrifying fact. Break-ups and divorce are common after having a baby.
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Research from The Gottman Institute found that two-thirds of couples found that the quality of their union declined within three years of having a child.
They also found when the couple is married at the time of the child’s birth, 13% of those marriages end before the child is 5 years old if the couples lived together at the time of the birth, 39% end within the same timeframe.
This is not the only study done on how having a baby changes your life. If a relationship was still developing or had weakened due to other stresses, a baby can easily be the force that breaks a union.
Everyone struggles to some degree to keep their marriage happy and strong after having a baby. The long nights and hectic days will take a toll on any relationship.
Some personal opinions on parenting don’t reveal themselves until decisions must be made.
For most, these signs are not an indication of serious problems within a marriage. It’s not a sign that a marriage won’t work.
It’s physical, mental, and emotional stress. It’s up to you to keep strengthening your marriage after a baby. Luckily, marriage after baby and romance after baby are not as complicated as it seems.
These are a few ways I kept my marriage alive and well. Our child is almost 3 years old. We’ve had ups and downs, but are still loving and supportive of each other with no sign of stopping.
Here are some ways to help your wife after having a baby and also how to keep a relationship strong after having a baby.
Little things matter
One thing first-time dads should know after bringing home newborn, little acts of love for your partner go a long way.
Show your wife you’re still in love with her and interested in her. Show her that you still think about her, even when you’re both about to pull your hair out.
If you go to the store by yourself to get diapers or formula, grab her favorite snack or dessert without being asked. If she does ask, grab something extra.
Leave her a sweet note before you go to work.
Text her something romantic, even if you’re just in the other room.
If its winter and she’s going to work, clean the snow off her car to save her time.
Get her favorite coffee and set the machine up, so she just has to press one button.
Take care of some tasks that you know are on her to-do list. “Happy wife, happy life” is especially true after a baby.
Randomly compliment her.
Any way you can think of to show her she’s still the most important woman in your life.
The options are endless for strengthening your marriage after a baby.
Did you always go to a particular restaurant before you were married? Bring home some takeout as a surprise — that way neither of you has to cook or do dishes.
You can spend the time together complaining about how tired you are, and what the baby’s future might look like in a couple of years. It’s simple, but it makes a difference.
Once sleep-deprivation hits, even the littlest things can put you in a bad mood, or eat at you for hours. Things you wouldn’t even notice before now bother you.
It could be the way she said something, a minor disagreement, or something was forgotten or left behind. It’s gonna happen to both you and your wife under these circumstances. Effective communication becomes more difficult, as well.
When these feelings creep up, be mindful of how you address it. It’s easy to take your exhaustion and stress on others. When possible, let it go.
After birth, you’re going to have to prioritize. Household chores may not get done, and you may have some clutter collecting. Let it go. The circumstances have changed. You will have to adjust your lives.
You won’t be able to do everything the way you did before the baby. It’s an adjustment, and it’s stressful regardless of how much thought you’ve put into keeping up and maintaining your lifestyle.
Keep in mind that your partner feels the same way; Exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed. You’re both trying to survive and function while keeping a little human alive and happy.
It’s a crazy balancing act. If things are difficult for you, they’re just as difficult for your partner. She went through childbirth, and hormone levels fluctuate like crazy before, during, and after pregnancy.
Be accepting, as her reactions and moods may be unpredictable at times. Above all, be supportive and understanding. Bond over the fact that you’re both losing your minds. It makes it easier to get through.
Make time for each other
One of the hardest things to do is find time to connect with your spouse with a newborn in the house. You’re both deprived of sleep and food.
Both of you are just trying to keep sane. But try to spend time with your spouse, even if they’re short and sporadic.
Get a sitter and try to have a date night. If you can’t, then put your phone on silent and just talk with each other about your day, how you both are feeling, and anything else you can think of.
Even just a couple minutes here and there when possible. Be sure to randomly embrace her when you’re both home. It’s unexpected but needed.
Care for your baby together
I’m sure a lot of couples take turns caring for the baby. It’s completely necessary at times. But when possible, do it together. If it’s bath time, both of you should take a few minutes to bathe the baby together.
The awesome moments you have while bonding with your offspring is made better by sharing it firsthand with your partner.
During my daughter’s first six months, I was awake for every middle-of-the-night awakening. Every three to four hours, we would both be up. I did this to care for my baby girl and my wife.
I’d gather the supplies from around the room so we could change her diaper. Every single time, I’d ask my wife if she needed anything like a snack, a drink, ibuprofen, anything.
Most of the time, she didn’t want anything, but it’s nice to be asked.
Give her a break
This is bigger than just being romantic and thoughtful. When you can, take over caring for the baby. I don’t mean so she can complete another task for work or at home. I mean so she can relax and have time for herself.
Let her nap, watch a few minutes of her favorite show, take a trip to get her nails done. Maybe give her time to make a long uninterrupted phone call with a relative she hasn’t spoken to in a while.
I’m sure she’s got an idea of what she’d do with a chunk of time alone, so if you’re not sure, just ask her!
It’s only temporary
The biggest thing to remember among all the new responsibilities you are juggling is: It’s only temporary. It doesn’t feel like it at the time, but you won’t be sleep-deprived forever.
It won’t always be so overwhelming. The cliche is true that they grow up so fast (and even faster when you’re exhausted).
If you use these strategies and get through the first year of parenting with your partner, your bond will be even stronger.
You look back on the struggle together, and you’ll both remember how you fought through those difficulties together. You’ll easily be among the group that makes it past the 5-year mark.
It’s frequently said the first year of marriage is the hardest. That has not been true for me. The first year of having a child is harder. But if you can overcome that, growing old together won’t be so hard after all.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Andrew Karpisz is a freelance writer for hire and proud stay at home dad/husband. When he’s not writing or researching, he is most likely running around, singing and playing with his 2-year-old daughter. He can be reached at andrewak.com, or on social media (FB & Twitter: @TheAndrewAK).