When you’re expecting your first child with your spouse, it truly is one of the most surreal and happy moments of your relationship. Even if you’ve had a tough pregnancy, you’ve never felt more in love with one another and connected in the deepest ways. You’ve literally created human life from the love that exists between you two, it just doesn’t get more romantic than that.
Fast forward, a few days after arriving home from the hospital with your new adorable-yet-demanding baby, the resentment towards your spouse begins. It’s undeniable that during and after pregnancy, moms carry most of the responsibility involving the baby. We carry those babies inside our bodies and we literally nurse them to life for months after they’re born. While it is truly magical, it changes your relationship with your partner is ways you didn’t anticipate.
It has never been more clear to me how couples can fall out of love and grow apart during the early years of child-rearing. It’s hard to find time for one another, keeping that flame lit takes a lot of energy– something that parents most definitely lack. I love my husband above anything in life and I’m lucky that he’s understanding, communicative (sometimes too much) and patient. But being a mom requires you to have the finest levels of delegation, communication and multi-taking skills while still operating well under stress and exhaustion. If you and your partner were kind of struggling in any of these areas before kids, they will be at the surface everyday with kids.
Needless to say, Kyle and I have had our ups and downs throughout our journey. I secretly (and often openly) hate on him for a multitude of reasons on a daily basis. But I have to remind myself that those negative feelings are just the stress and frustration– it is not truly how I feel about him.
As moms, our work is not always appreciated in the way we need it to be. An easy solution to that is to speak up and tell your partner exactly what you expect and/or need from him. I know so many mothers that suffer through the difficult times quietly, afraid to burden their spouses. Simultaneously, dads can also go underappreciated and are often seen as ‘less than helpful’. If your spouse loves you and your child, he is surely willing to do anything to make you both happy. In my experience, they almost always want to help but don’t know how to (or in many cases, moms don’t let them). I highly encourage my fellow mommies to let their spouse’s take things off their plates, even if dads do it their own way. As long as the kids are alive and happy, who cares if the house is a mess?
If any or all of this resonates with your situation, you’re not alone!
Below I compiled some ways to help restore the appreciation and googly eyes you once had for your man (or woman):
Tell him when you’re drowning and overwhelmed. Don’t hold in the stress and let it fester inside until you unpredictably explode over the smallest of things. The comment I hear the most is moms don’t want to worry/burden their spouses, as if raising children is only a mom’s job. Do it, burden him and work out a better system for both of you. Working together will make you a stronger couple.
- Share your concerns constructively. Don’t use the passive-aggressive approach, or the aggressive-aggressive one either– it’s counter-productive. If you want someone to hear you and be empathetic, you must do the same. I know this is easier said than done (especially when you’re exhausted and frustrated), but I promise that the more you do it, the easier it gets.
- Lead by example. Your children will normalize the behavior they witness at home & replicate it later on in life, most likely in their own relationships. So if you find yourself being rude or less than kind to your spouse, take a time-out, or tell him/her you would like to discuss the subject later when the children are not around.
- Don’t micro-manage your spouse. Once you’ve delegated something to your spouse, don’t breathe down his neck as he does it. Imagine how unmotivated you would feel if someone didn’t trust you to complete a task you’ve been asked to do? It’s okay to explain beforehand how you like things done, but be flexible if he takes a different approach.
- Don’t undermine his authority in front of the children. He’s a voice of authority as much as you are, so let him do it his way and discuss together later. I like to give my husband some pointers on the spot (quietly, away from the children)–since I spend more time with them and know their habits & behaviors a bit better. Children should respect both of you as authority figures, even if you have different approaches.
- Be appreciative of the things he does for you and your family. Don’t assume he knows, thank him and tell him how much it helps you. Mirror the appreciation you wish to receive (and hopefully he’ll return the love).
QUALITY ADULT TIME-
- Date Nights/Days: Yes, you need to find time for these. They are imperative to keep the romance alive, even if you’re tired the next day. I recommend at least once per month, but ideally weekly!
- Flirt with each other on the regular: It doesn’t have to be overtly sexual- that would be weird in front of your kids! Perhaps take a more subtle approach, like commenting how handsome your spouse looks in a certain pair of jeans, or complimenting how good they smell after a shower. Just because you had kids, doesn’t mean you no longer have to keep it spicy.
- Care about your appearance: This isn’t just for your man (although he will benefit from it), but really for yourself. I completely understand how hard it is to take a shower everyday, but you must find a sliver of time to care for yourself each day. With that said, some days just have to be no-shower-sweats-days, this is absolutely okay. My concern would be if that person becomes the permanent you, this could mean you have some underlying depression that needs to be treated asap. If you just want to wear yoga pants and refuse to wear makeup, that’s completely acceptable. There are ways to be comfortable and still look great! You’re a new woman– you’ve become an amazing mom– so explore whatever style suits your new life.
- Sex, Sex, Sex. Have it, lots of it– as soon as your body heals and you feel up for it! Your husband can be patient until you’re ready, don’t do it out of obligation. Your body has been through hell and back and I’m sure he can understand that you have to enjoy it too. For me, sex just felt physically and mentally different, but we found what works for both of us. Like all things after kids, they evolve into another phase. Sex is no exception.
Be Healthy Mami!