Love. When you first fell in love with your spouse, you never thought you could love someone or something more. They were your everything. And they made you feel all the feels no matter where or what they did. Their touch, their smell, their voice . . . all it took was just a hint of them and your day went from glum to chummy. Admit it, you’re smiling just thinking about it.
But the old rhyme—first comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes a baby in a baby carriage—seems to get it right. Because babies seem to follow the type of love mentioned above. And often times for women, it seems the love you now feel for your baby can at times overpower the love you feel for your partner. Because now its baby’s touch, smell, and coos that have you feeling butterflies. Even if their smell is a dirty diaper. (I know it’s weird, right?)
And, of course, you still love your partner. Immensely. But this immense desire to care for your tiny creature and this deep sense of responsibility you feel to keep her safe and healthy seems to trump all other people. Including your spouse and his needs. And that seems right and fair. Because baby should come first, right?
Well, not exactly. You see, children benefit emotionally when their parents are in a good and happy place. And marriages can only stay good and happy when people choose to prioritize the relationship. So while a baby’s needs should always be met, that does not mean that a baby should always be put before your relationship. In fact, by taking time to keep your marriage strong, you are giving your child a better chance at being emotionally happy and healthy. In other words, you are being a good parent when you prioritize your relationship.
Here are Five Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong
1. Go on dates.
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. Dates with your spouse after baby have so much value and can easily be taken for granted. Sure, you may not be able to get away for a weekend, but even if you can sneak away for three hours to have a quick dinner and trip to Target sans baby, that can be just enough time to have some adult conversation which can lead to some much needed communication and connection about life!
2. Keep perspective when it comes to stress.
There is nothing like sleep deprivation and a crying baby to make two people that deeply love each other want to treat each other as if they are enemies (especially before they have had their first cup of coffee in the morning after a long night awake with a baby). Instead of finding reasons to feel frustrated with one another, be smarter than sleep deprivation–remind yourselves (aloud if you must) that new babies involve a lot of transition and change. Which means that the frustration you feel is not necessarily caused by one another, but by changes. Sometimes just vocalizing all the changes aloud can help keep things in perspective. For example, “I feel cranky right now because I am tired” is much better than “You are annoying me right now.”
3. Compliment your spouse on the things they are doing well.
One of the best ways to keep a marriage strong is to look at yourself in a partnership with your spouse. You are a team in raising a human. And this means you each have different roles and different ways you contribute to parenting. Take time to notice the unique things your partner does that help your child feel loved or that help you feel supported. If your spouse is great at noticing when the baby needs a bath and giving her one, let him know you appreciate it. If he is good about doing the dishes so that you can give the baby a bath, tell him about it. If he rubs your feet and you haven’t taken a moment to say thank you, now is a great time. Compliments motivate a person to continue doing the things you are complimenting. So write a note, send a text, or just whisper something sweet in his ear.
4. Take time to cuddle.
Even though sometimes the last thing you are craving after holding a baby all day is more touch, taking time to snuggle up to your partner is so special. And even though it seems small, it is an easy way to feel connected to your spouse without much effort. And if you can even intentionally put the baby down so that you can give him a quick hug, that’s even better. That shows him that in addition to being parents, you are also partners who love each other. Raising tiny humans takes strong partnerships!
5. Continue to do things you did before baby.
As fun as it is to care for your new baby, it is healthy for your marriage to continue to do things that you did together before baby came along. If you were into playing cards together, play some cards. If you enjoyed going on runs, take some time to exercise together. If you enjoyed cooking together, go to the store and grab some ingredients for your favorite recipe. This is important because relationships that last involve partners that enjoy living life together. So don’t lose the mutual interests that once drew you together. Because your kids want you together for life!
Cheers to keeping your marriage just as strong post-baby as it was before!