Meghan Markle and Prince Harry recently announced the birth of their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. They were both beaming with pride during their announcement to the press. Now that Archie is here, they will have to refocus and adjust to family life.
If you’re the parent of a newborn, you’re likely tired and have a lot less time for romance. Relationships sometimes go through a rocky period right after a new baby arrives. What should you do if you’re in this situation? How can you make sure your relationship stays fresh after the birth of a baby? The Cheat Sheet spoke with relationship expert April Masini to get her advice on how to make sure your relationship doesn’t take a downward spiral once a new baby comes along.
The Cheat Sheet: How can couples keep their relationship fresh after the birth of a child?
Adjust. Don’t try to jump back to where you were before pregnancy. Instead, focus on romance after the birth, and ease into sex and time between the two of you, as the newborn becomes less of a newborn and more of a baby. If you try to get back to where you were before the pregnancy, you’re setting yourselves up for disappointment and failure. Instead, adjust to where you are now.
Prioritize. It’s easy to get swept away with the baby love storm, and couples often feel strife when the parent who is less of a primary care giver bonds with the baby, creating a relationship triangle in a dysfunctional way (in spite of the fact that one-third of that triangle is a newborn). In other words, fathers typically feel left out. Prioritize your relationship and make time for yourselves as a couple. If you don’t, you risk losing your “couple self.”
Put a time limit on the family bed. If you’re all sleeping together, or if the father is sleeping elsewhere and the baby has taken over his place in the bed for round-the-clock and nighttime feedings, put a limit on that dynamic. You can be flexible with the limit, but if it feels like this is going to go on forever, it’s going to make the couple feel at risk. It’s easy to prioritize a newborn, but there needs to be a balance with the timeline.
The Cheat Sheet: How can couples still make time for intimacy after the baby is born?
April Masini: Hire a babysitter or enlist a friend or family member so you can have a regular date night. Even if it’s two hours to have dinner with a glass of wine, having help that you can count on, on a regular basis, doesn’t just give you a break to try and get back on the intimacy track, it gives you a light at the end of the tunnel that is a tough week. Just knowing you’ve got a babysitter coming on Saturday from 8 to 10, is going to get you through the week.
Take a post-baby getaway. If you can afford it, make it a regular thing. Having one night away, once a month, or even a luxurious two-night weekend away — is a great way to get your sex life back. Be patient because for some couples it’s tough to be away. But make sure you do this. Whether you use an in-town hotel, a road trip getaway, or a short flight to somewhere fun and vacation-y, do it. You can ask friends and family with beach cottages or mountain getaways if you can borrow them for a night or two.
The Cheat Sheet: What’s a top reason couples break up shortly after the birth of a child? What can you do to make sure that doesn’t happen?
It’s not just the two of you. The reality is that a new baby is a trauma to relationships. It can be a great blessing, but it still upends the symbiotic relationship many couples have with each other before the baby. The baby often displaces one parent, and couples can find a way not to get over this change. One or both parents don’t see their way back to each other and to all the forms of intimacy that are the glue for relationships. That’s how breakups begin. When couples don’t accept and adjust to the birth of a new child, their relationship will be in trouble.
Expectations aren’t realistic. Many couples are unprepared for the shift. This could be a sleep-deprivation shift. It could be the reality of the financial burden that comes with a baby. It could be the shift in the woman’s body that puts one or both parents off. It could be an unexpected difficult birth. It could be the onslaught of relatives with unexpected reactions and impressions. It could also be something else. But lots of times things don’t go as planned or expected, and if couples are not prepared for a shift in expectations, they could see breaking up as an easier and more appealing option than having to deal with something they didn’t think they’d have to.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!