Having a baby is such a beautiful and wonderful thing, but let’s face it… it can be really hard to connect with your husband after bringing home baby. Here are my top 8 ways to keep that spark alive with your spouse, even in the dirty diaper trenches.
Everyone always says that having a baby changes everything.
They say you’ll never sleep again and that’s it’s no longer about you.
They might even tell you that your marriage will change.
I was arrogant enough to not believe the bit about my marriage changing.
How could my sweet, innocent, precious little baby do anything but bring happiness and joy? Surely I could survive sleeping a little less. I was going to be an awesome mom, and my husband was going to be the best dad.
Then we actually had a baby.
We spent a week in the hospital after my daughter was born, which gave us a tiny glimpse into the sleeplessness, the worry, and the fear.
The best part of being in the hospital for a week? We had a little extra time to get the hang of things before being released and left on our own.
The worst part? Having to deal with the anxiety and worry about our little girl being so close to being flown to the nearest hospital to be placed in the NICU on top of long, painful nights of breastfeeding and just starting the process of figuring out how to do this baby thing.
Long story short, no NICU stay, and we were home a week later.
But that’s when the hard part began.
Since I was exclusively breastfeeding, my sleep was broken up into tiny segments of 30 minutes to an hour at a time. After two weeks of never getting a decent stretch of time to sleep, I started breaking down.
My husband and I started snapping at each other.
Neither of us knew what we were doing or how to split our responsibilities.
It took us a long time to figure out systems that worked for us and allowed us both to get the rest we needed.
It took us even longer to figure out how to reconnect with each other.
Since having a baby, we didn’t feel like us anymore. All of the sudden we were both cranky, tired, and overly emotional. We were too tired to talk to each other. We no longer had time to do the fun things that we’d enjoyed up until that point. And our weekly habit of eating out was cut out completely because how on earth are you supposed to take a baby out to eat? (Don’t worry, we’ve figured that part out, too.)
I remember taking a walk together when our daughter was about 6 months old, looking over at him, and thinking, we’re back… we’re starting to feel like “us” again… finally.
It was a feeling that came and went, but eventually it started lasting longer until finally we truly melded into a family of three. There were fewer arguments, more laughter, and a lot more love.
We now have two sweet girls, and again, it was tough to connect with my husband after bringing home our littlest baby. This time it was even tougher because my husband wasn’t able to stay home to help me out with the girls. He has a job that keeps him away from home the majority of the day, which means that our opportunities to reconnect are limited.
This time, though, we knew ahead of time that we would need to make a special effort to stay on the same page, so we did. Here’s what worked for us.
Ways to Connect With Your Husband
Make time to talk
Whether that be at 4 am while you’re up feeding and burping the baby together, during a walk, or over the chaos of dinner… just make time to talk.
It’s so important that you and your spouse stay on the same page during this amazingly wonderful and hard time of sweet cuddles and sleepless nights.
Make your spouse a priority and do whatever it takes to stay verbally and emotionally connected, even if that means sacrificing a few extra minutes of sleep or shower time. It’s worth it.
You don’t remember the last time you’ve showered, you haven’t brushed your hair in days, make-up is a long lost memory, you’ve been wearing the same amazingly comfortable pair of pj pants since last Tuesday, there’s a lingering smell which is probably you since you’re covered in milk and spit up and baby poop and probably the spaghetti you ate two nights ago, you’re still swollen from pregnancy, you’re on painkillers for those stitches, your boobs are leaking and hurt to even look at… flirting (and more) is the last thing on your mind.
I get it.
On the other hand, your husband is getting to watch you become an amazing mother, and chances are he’s attracted to that.
He’s also probably a little hesitant to even touch you with all the puffiness and pain and leakiness.
Let him know you’re still his, and that even with this new addition to the family, he is still your rock, your security, and your best friend.
Send the flirty text. Wear the cute pjs. Dream about your future together. Go on a date without the baby (if possible). Make plans. Laugh. Flirt.
Express your worries and fears
This is a two-way street, hon.
While it’s important to let your guy know your worries, fears, anxieties, and all the hard parts of breastfeeding, poopy diapers, and every moment in between, you need to let your guy talk, too.
Allow your husband to talk to you about his stress at work. Listen to him. There’s a good chance he’d much rather be home with you and that sweet baby than at work.
It’s important that you be honest with him about what you’re experiencing as well. Go ahead and cry over the fact that your toddler had a 30-minute meltdown while your newborn was supposed to be sleeping. Express how you feel about being home with the baby.
Whatever it is that needs to be said between you two, say it.
Try your best to be transparent, patient, and forgiving.
Communication is the golden lifebloodof relationships. The more you make a decision, then a habit, then a lifestyle, and finally a family culture of open (respectfull) communication, the happier your family life, your homebase, will be.
Those early days are hard on you both. Give each other a little slack and a little understanding. It goes a long way.
Encourage each other
The first few weeks after bringing home your newest little one are tough on both of you.
Take every opportunity to encourage each other. It’s amazing how far a simple, “You’re such an awesome dad,” can go.
Even if you’re irritated – especially when you’re irritated – try to think of something your spouse is doing well, and let him know. Thank him.
You both need the love and support.
Trust each other
This one can be really tough after your first baby.
Your husband is going to parent differently than you.
Different doesn’t mean wrong.
You’re going to have a specific way you want things done, but remember to take a step back and see that sometimes your spouse will do things differently, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing it wrong.
I struggled with this one so much after our first daughter was born. My husband had to remind me often, “Trust me. She’s my baby, too.”
Care for each other
Mama, right now you need to be pampered and taken care of so that you can care for your new little one.
As you find opportunity, try to find ways to care for your husband as well.
You both need showers, naps, food, and baby cuddles. Make sure you are both taken care of during this time to reduce the possibility of resentment.
Kiss before bed
Or before he leaves for work, or in the kitchen, or wherever!
Don’t let that intimacy slip between the cracks because of the exhaustion.
Keeping a marriage alive and healthy takes effort, so make it a priority to kiss, really kiss, often.
Children learn about intimacy, what a healthy relationship looks like, how to take care of themselves emotionally and socially, and what qualities to value in a potential mate later in life by examining the behavior of their parents.
Yeah, their peers (public, private, homeschool groups, church, and other social groups) will contribute to that, but nothing will shape and craft their lasting image of relationships like you will.
It starts from day one with your husband when you first bring that baby into the world.
Hold hands and remember that it was your love that gave you the gift of sleepless nights, sweet cries, cuddles, baby breath, and sweet, soft baby hair
This phase doesn’t last forever.
Things get easier. You’ll sleep again. Your sweet baby will grow and learn and thrive.
Put in the effort to ensure that your marriage will grow and thrive, too.
It’s so worth it.
What are your favorite ways to keep the spark alive? Let me know in the comments!