It is often rumoured that having a baby will cement a relationship. This could not be further from the truth. The first few years of parenting are filled with considerable challenges and demands, that can be daunting for even the most patient parents. To put it plainly, couples need a rock-solid relationship to make it through the first year of parenthood.
During pregnancy, dads often feel disconnected. Although they are excited and eager at the prospect of becoming a father. A lot of men feel concerned about their family’s financial future — because of added financial strains.
Once a baby is born, mom will soon realise that the endless demands on her mean she has very limited spare time. The rare time that mothers do have -off’ from their daily childcare routine, will be replaced — quite speedily — by household chores, personal obligations and other last minute obligations. It is important that couples remain focused on their relationship — even if it appears that there are more important things to take care of.
Tips on staying together
- Make time for meaningful conversations: Listen to your partner and offer support. Good conversation is the cornerstone of all good relationships. Use the time to discuss intimate feelings and concerns.
- Spend some time alone: Grandparents or close friends are more than willing to babysit for a few hours, and this free time can be used as an escape for parents to reconnect and unwind. Fathers who feel neglected after the arrival of the new baby will value this time, as it gives them time to enjoy their partners company again. Go for dinner or engage in other adult-only activities.
- Offer help: Many dads may not feel too comfortable with nappy changes, but they can offer help around the house or offer to cook a meal. When dads does try his hand at whipping up a meal or doing the laundry, moms must refrain from being too critical but should rather appreciate the help.
- Give support: Moms tend to feel inadequate and overwhelmed at the prospect of providing full-time care for a newborn. Dads, who return to work after baby has been born, could try to arrange to leave work slightly earlier than usual (for the first few weeks) or work from home for a few hours each day. This will give mom the support and encouragement she needs s well as reassurance that her partner is only a phone call away.
- Give each other time off: Spending time on a personal interest will prove to be beneficial for parents and it will also be beneficial for the relationship.
- Make time for romance: For the first few weeks, parents will be sleep-deprived and shell-shocked, but from about six weeks onwards your body and your life should return to a state or normality (well, to a certain degree). Think of fun new ways to entice your partner, such as long romantic scented-bubble baths with candles — after baby has been put to bed. Lovemaking and intimacy is an important part of a relationship and it should not be neglected.
- Surprise each other: Even though the days of restaurant dining are restricted after baby’s arrival, surprise each other with a candle-lit dinner. Serve wine and once again enjoy each other. Also make an effort to talk about something other than your new baby — perhaps your future together?
- Spend time together as a family: The warm summer evenings are ideal for a stroll with baby. Make use of that fancy pram and enjoy the fresh air and each other’s company.
- Hold hands often and remember what first attracted you to each other: Celebrate your union and let your precious bundle of joy be a continual reminder of your love and commitment to each other.
- Limit arguments: With so little free time available, partners need to choose their battles. Rather than wasting time arguing over mundane issues – let it go and concentrate on each other.
- Regularly SMS or email love notes: Send an SMS or email expressing your feelings, your secrets and desires.
It has been said that -one of the best things parents can do, is love each other’. If you build a solid relationship, the challenges and demands of parenthood are easily overcome. A baby should never be seen as a remedy to fix a broken relationship, but should rather be seen as a gift or blessing that enhances a strong and stable union between partners. A child who grows up in a loving and caring environment will feel loved and secure and this is one of the best gifts parents can give their children.
Commit time (each day) to work on your relationship — with your partner. It may be difficult to find the time at first, but at the end of the day, sacrificing a few hours of sleep will offer a lifetime of rewards for you and your partner, as well as your precious bundle of joy.