If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you’ve figured out that having a baby is a big deal.
A baby is a ton of work, and that work adds a lot of stress to the lives of everyone involved.
So I hope it doesn’t come as a surprise if you find yourself feeling disconnected with your husband. This baby turned your life completely upside down! It’s completely normal if you find yourself unhappy with your marriage after baby.
When you have a newborn, it’s OK if your marriage goes on the back burner for a little while. Those first few weeks are all about survival!
You don’t need to be worried about date night when you’ve only been home from the hospital for a week.
But maybe some some time has gone by and you’re feeling adjusted to life with a baby, but your marriage is still on the rocks. Here are some things that my husband and I found helpful in working towards keeping our relationship strong after having a baby.
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Does it feel like your husband lazy and unmotivated? Tell him you appreciate him.
It’s frustrating when you feel like your husband doesn’t help out as much as you think he should. Maybe he doesn’t even seem to appreciate all of the work that you do.
But have you stopped to think about things that he does that maybe you take for granted?
- Does he get up and go to work everyday to a job he doesn’t like to provide for his family?
- Does he keep the oil changed in the cars?
- Does he entertain the baby while you cook dinner?
I’m not saying he necessarily deserves to be Husband of the Year. But if you look for things to appreciate about him rather than focusing on everything you wish he did or didn’t do, you might just find yourself being a little happier in your marriage, even with the additional stress of having a baby.
And don’t forget to actually tell him all of the things that you are grateful for about him.
I have a hard time remembering to do this, but my husband totally lights up when I affirm things that he does.
Think about what motivates you: have you ever worked for someone who did nothing but criticize you? Did that person inspire you to work hard and be great at your job? I’m guessing not.
The best places that I’ve worked had people in leadership who encouraged me and worked harder than I did.
They inspired me to work hard for them.
I’m not saying that you are your husband’s boss or vice versa. However, if you want him to do more around the house, don’t berate his shortcomings.
Encourage him in the things he does well and it just might inspire him to do more for his family.
Want help? Ask for it.
I’ve actually discovered the secret to getting my husband to help out more around the house.
It goes like this. If I would like some help cleaning the bathrooms, I say “hey, can you clean the bathroom?” And then he does it. Sometimes I’ll give a timeline for him, as in ‘sometime this week’ or ‘before we watch that movie tonight’ so that he has a better idea of when it needs to be done.
I know it’s not necessarily fair that you as the woman automatically have to carry that mental load. But when you consider what our grandmothers had to deal with, we have it pretty good in comparison.
Maybe in another couple of generations things will be even better for our granddaughters.
For now, though, most of us are stuck with the fact that unless we take the initiative to get things done, they won’t.
For a happier marriage after baby, show him love (even if you don’t get it in return)
The only person in your marriage that you can change is you. It’s easy to see all of your husband’s faults and point out the things that he needs to change or could be doing better.
It’s harder to focus on our own shortcomings.
Maybe you don’t feel like your husband shows his love and support in all of the ways that he should.
But what are you doing to show him your love and support? What are some ways you could do better in this area?
If you start being intentional about expressing your love for your husband without being concerned about what you’ll get in return, you might be surprised at the positive response you get from him.
I encourage you to check out The Love Dare which is a 40-day challenge to help you change yourself and your own actions in order to have a stronger marriage.
Spend time together to keep your relationship strong
It’s easy to make date nights a priority before you have kids. You’re free to do whatever you want, whenever you want!
After the baby’s born it gets a lot harder to get out of the house kid-free, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend quality time together anymore.
My husband and I are natural homebodies, so the transition to not being able to get out as much after baby wasn’t too hard for us. But we still find ways to have fun at home, and most of them are way cheaper than dinner and a movie!
Something we like to do is plan out our evenings at the beginning of each week.
For example, we might plan to bake something together on Monday, watch a movie on Wednesday night, have friends over on Friday, and plan a family outing for Saturday.
We usually reserve the rest of the evenings for us to do our own separate things: usually I work on the blog on the couch while he plays video games in the basement.
This helps keep us from irritating each other with the whole “What do you want to do?”, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” and then just default to watching TV.
Having a plan already in place really helps us to make better use of our time and do more things that we enjoy!
For a happy marriage after baby, take time for yourself
It’s important to spend time together, but time away from your husband and kids every once in a while is good for your post-baby marriage too! It helps you to remember who you are apart from your husband and your baby, and it’s great to have a chance to do something that you enjoy.
(Not to mention how awesome that lighter-than-air feeling that you get when you leave the house without a car seat in tow!)
I’m super blessed in that my husband is great about letting me have time to myself! I’m actually headed out on a getaway with my mom and sister this weekend and I went out to see a movie with some girlfriends earlier this week.
And be sure to give him some time too!
On the flip side, I really struggle to give my husband that gift of freedom without feeling bitter about it.
I have to fight the urge to sigh when he wants to go to the range with a friend. It’s tough not to roll my eyes when he says he would rather stay home instead of coming on the family outing we had planned.
After all, I already have to spend all day every day taking care of the kids alone.
It’s hard to give him time alone when that means even more of the daily grind with the kids for me on an evening or weekend.
But it makes such a huge difference in our marriage when I occasionally give him the space that he needs.
Recently, I took the girls out on a Saturday morning while he stayed home. I thought he would spend the whole time playing video games or something.
But instead I came home to a clean kitchen, several completed home projects that had been needing to get done, and he was in a better mood than he had been in for a long time.
I’m not suggesting that it’s healthy for you or your husband to abandon the family every weekend to go play golf.
But a quiet Saturday morning alone here or a quick drink with friends after work there? Those little escapes can go a long way towards helping you both be your best selves through this crazy journey of parenting.
Never run out of things to talk about
Something I’ve always been afraid of is running out of stuff to talk about with my husband.
And it has happened on occasion! Sometimes we’ll go out to eat and just not be able to come up with anything interesting to talk about. It’s not the end of the world, but it happens.
One thing we do to try to keep that from happening is to read interesting books and discuss them!
My husband actually really hates to read, so usually I’m the one who reads the book. Then I just share with him whatever it is that I found interesting and we discuss it from there. But if you can both read the same book, I think that’s even better.
I can’t tell you how many fantastic conversations we’ve had after I read some thought-provoking nonfiction.
If you have relationship problems after having a baby, learn how to resolve conflict.
You’ve probably been married long enough to have had few disagreements with your husband. Conflict is pretty much inevitable in marriage.
I would even go so far to say that a little conflict is a healthy thing.
But you have a baby now. It’s more important than ever to make sure that you know how to resolve those conflicts in a healthy way. The way that your child sees you interact with each other as he grows up will have a huge impact on him.
Always do what it takes to work through every fight that you have.
That probably means apologizing even if you don’t think you were at fault.
(There’s always something you didn’t do or could have done better that you can apologize for!)
Don’t get caught up in being right or waiting for the other person to say they’re sorry first. Your marriage is far more important than your pride.
You can have a happy marriage, even after a baby!
It’s true, maintaining your marriage relationship may not come as effortlessly as it once did before you had a baby. It’s going to take a little more effort and hard work. But I can guarantee that you’ll never regret taking the time to invest in your marriage. You’ll reap the rewards of your effort for years to come!