Tuesday, 1 January 2013

How to rekindle your relationship after having a child.

Photo courtesy of Kozzi.com
Having children effects the relationship you have with your partner.  It doesn't matter how much you convince yourself that your life will be just the same only with a child in it, you quickly realise that nothing could be further from the truth.

Having children adds various challenges to your relationship, but fear not; the solutions just need a little bit of effort.  Below I outline some of the main reasons that couple feel they are drifting apart after the birth of a first child, and my suggestions as to how to face these challenges.

1.  We are both always exhausted.


There's no way to sugarcoat this; and thinking that it's the same kind of tiredness you get from pulling the odd all-nighter, either in the pub, or to complete some college assignment, is naive at best.  You will have never known tiredness quite like it.

The solution? Accept the tiredness as inevitable and snuggle up to fall asleep in front of the television together.  You may not feel like getting frisky, but make the effort to cuddle up and stay connected.

2.  We don't talk about anything but the children.


And why is that a problem?  Well, it's not in itself a problem at all.  Having a child is a major event in both your lives and you should be talking about it. 

So what's my advice?  Every so often ask your partner about them; their views on current news, what they thought of a new television show you've both seen lately, where they'd like to go on holiday next year... It sounds a little like the patter your hair stylist might use, and that's exactly what it should sound like because it's YOU remembering to take an interest in THEM as well as the new child.

It's amazing what a difference it makes to your day when someone takes a genuine interest in your thoughts and feelings for even just a short period of time.  Give this gift of attention to each other. 

3.  We are changingWe aren't the same people anymore.


Of course you aren't.  You grew up and became parents.  It's the natural order of things.  But it doesn't mean you are not the same people that fell in love.  What it does mean is that you are both learning new skills and that you will both find different ways to cope with the new responsibility.

What can you do?  Give each other chance to grow, and try and give each other a regular opportunity to get out alone to be the person you were before you became a parent.   Whether it's to go to the hair salon, the golf course, a painting class or judo; whatever it is that enables you to maintain your own sense of self. 

Often those who work full-time before and immediately after having a child need this less, as they have the consistency of their job, that doesn't change, and maintain their sense of their 'work self' separately to that of their 'new parent' self.  But if you used to work and stop to have children you can feel like you start to lose your own identity.  Recognise this in yourself or your partner and give the space to the individual that needs it.

4.  We don't get any couple time.


What with the new baby demanding attention 24 hours a day, and you both attempting to give each other alone time, how do you get 'couple' time?

This one is a must: Create it.  I mean it.  There's no excuse for this one.  If you don't have the luxury of babysitting grandparents, then ensure you get a bedtime routine for your little one established as soon as is practical and turn one evening a week into an "at home date night". 

And let's be really clear here; I'm not referring to item 1. above here, you can fall asleep watching television together the other 6 nights.  No, I mean turn the television off, cook a nice meal (or order in) and do something together, be it playing scrabble or cards, listening to music, or the obvious vertical boogie.  Make the time and effort. 

5.  I/We just don't feel like sex.


OK, so you are worn out and just don't feel like it.  What if your other half does initiate sex?  In my humble experience it's always worth going with it.  You may not feel particularly passionate to start with and we all know that women (generally speaking) take a little longer to warm up, but give your partner chance to see if maybe the warming up can be done.

What have you got to loose?  You might just get a lovely orgasm and feel 10 times better.

It, of course, may be that neither of you are initiating sex.  You may both be too tired, overwhelmed, or, let's face it, scared.

Get over yourselves and on every "date night" rediscover each-other.  If it means taking it slow and kissing for hours, so what? 

6.  But we've stopped talking to each other!


All the tiredness and fear and the notion of being overwhelmed can result in two people both feeling similar emotions but not realising, thinking their other half is coping 'so much better' and being scared to share their thoughts and fears. 

Talk to each other!!  For goodness sake!  You are not 11 years old now, you are parents for goodness sake.  Talk, debate, disagree, discuss, share and argue if you must.  Then either discover that you are both feeling the same and have a good laugh at yourselves, or agree to disagree and to support each other where you both need it. 

7.  She / He takes me for granted


This happens so easily that it is scary.  On the one hand it's lovely that we get so comfortable in our relationships that we start to trust the other person to always be there, to always support us, to always make the dinner, do the dishes, put the bins out, buy us presents, send us cute little texts.... the list goes on and on and on....

It's also ridiculously easy to avoid this one.  Remember those words your parents always drilled into you, but which we often seem to forget in adult life?  Go on... think hard...  Two phrases.... Please, and thank you.

Please and thank you will take you a long way.  It can take effort to start reusing these little gems if they've managed to slip out of your vocabulary, but it's well worth it.  People like being thanked, it's a very basic acknowledgement that they've done something to make our lives easier. 

Another really easy thing to do to ensure you don't take each other for granted.  Keep doing those things you used to.  Those little texts.... buying little gifts.... leave post-it's for each other.   I guess I'm just saying "think about your partner and treat them".  Easy, eh?


All this advice sounds like too much hard work


Really?  Too much hard work to make the effort to build and grow your developing relationship and be the best parents you can be?  It's your relationship.  If it was a relationship strong enough to result in you deciding to become parents together, then surely it's worth the effort of staying parents together?

***

I really hope this article provides some helpful tips on how to reconnect with your partner after having a child.  It's tough; I wouldn't ever suggest otherwise; but the best and most brilliant things in this world can only be built with hard work and dedication.  

If you need any other tips on pregnancy, parenting, coping with being a new parent, coping with a demanding toddler and keeping your sense of self and yumminess in the process, feel free to browse the site and follow using your preferred method be it facebook, twitter, bloglovin, RSS or google+.  Thank you for stopping by.


Good luck and happy parenting.

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