Becoming a parent has changed more than who I am; it’s changed my relationship with my husband. We’ve found that patience and time together are rare commodities. We take shifts caring for our son on the weekend (“Oh, he has a birthday party to go to? Can you take him so I can get some things done at home?”), and at times we bicker about things like who was supposed to put the child locks on the dining room cabinet.
If you’re a rookie mom and your man is a rookie dad, then like us, you’re in a “rookie relationship,” meaning that you’re in the midst of the trials of new parenthood. Nothing challenges a relationship more than parenting young children. Research shows that 90% of couples say their relationships are worse after their first baby. Yikes!
Now more than ever we need a plan to stay connected and in love during these most stressful years of marriage. Here are some fun activities my husband and I do together, which have made a huge difference for us. Perhaps they will make a difference for you too.
- Plan Family Playdates. Since you can’t always find a sitter to cover a Friday night double date, invite another couple with their kids to come over for brunch on the weekend. Not only can you trade off babysitting duty, but the kids are more likely to occupy themselves when they have other kids to play with.
- Have a Cocktail Party. After the kids go to bed, throw a very private party. About once a month I heat up frozen appetizers, light candles, put on mood music and my husband and I find ourselves dancing and laughing at ourselves.
- Hire the Babysitter, Early. If you have a dinner reservation for 7:30pm, don’t hire the babysitter for 7pm so you have to rush to get the kids in order before you run out of the house, all stressed out and sweaty. Be kind to yourself. Hire the sitter to come at 5:30 or 6. Isn’t a little extra money every now and then worth an hour to relax, cuddle in bed together and then get dressed in peace?
- Use Tech Toys to Your Advantage.
I’m not talking about sex toys! I’m talking about cell phones and computers. Make it a habit to send each other a sweet text or e-mail message about once a day. A simple, “thinking of you, baby,” is enough to make my day.
- Kiss and Touch with a Little Audience. Private time is hard to come by, so don’t wait for your kids to be out of sight before you sneak over to your husband and rub his back. When he’s playing with your kids go over and kiss him. Touch his arm. Sit close to him on the couch. These little connections show my man and my son that we are all here, together, right now. And I love it.
Laurie’s blog, Expecting Words, helps expecting couples rise to the challenges of pregnancy, and offers advice for new parents, like “breastfeeding is a man’s job too!” and “why moms are meanies.” Between the personal stories and friendly advice, expecting couples and rookie parents will find humor and a compassionate friend in Laurie.