Becoming Parents, Together.
Welcoming a new baby into the world can be one of the most exciting and joyful times for a couple… and also one of the hardest. It's unfortunately very common to have marriage problems after baby. As marriage counselors and family therapists we often see that most couples spend so much time and energy preparing for the birth, and how to take care of their newborn, they neglect to think about how they'll keep their relationship strong after baby.
The relationship issues they experience after having a baby can therefore catch them by surprise, and feel all the more challenging to resolve in the stressful weeks and months following the birth of a child.
Just like we encourage couples getting married to get premarital counseling to prevent future problems, we encourage pregnant couples to proactively prepare their relationships for life-after baby. Today, we're here to help provide some guidance for preventing relationship problems after having a baby, or for healing your relationship if it feels like things have gotten harder since becoming parents together.
Common Marriage Problems After Baby
Many couples report relationship issues after baby. Why? It's because having a new child to care for together is uniquely stressful, and it requires you two to work together as a couple in a different way than you ever had before. Furthermore, you're likely both feeling depleted, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed. Plus, when your baby needs something, it feels like an emergency!
In this emotional, hormonal, and circumstantial pressure-cooker frustrations flare, and resentments simmer, particularly when things are feeling out of balance between you and unspoken expectations are going unmet.
Many women report feeling disconnected from their husband after having a baby, often due to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, and because it's difficult for their partners to know how to support them — physically, emotionally, and in terms of practical help. Men too can experience disconnection from their partners after the birth of a child, often due to feeling suddenly secondary to this new little being who needs so much care and attention.
Having a new baby requires couples to renegotiate boundaries, establish new ways of doing things, and enter brand new emotional territory together — all while sleep-deprived and stressed. It's a a new chapter that involves a great deal of personal growth work, both for each partner individually, and as a couple. It's no wonder that many couples struggle as they make their way forward, together.
Relationship Changes After Baby
In addition to the new challenges couples face around how to work as a team to care for their baby, they may temporarily lose many of the fun bonding activities they once shared. Many couples need to rebuild their sexual relationship (slowly!) after the birth of a child. It's also generally much more difficult to spend time alone doing fun things than it was in the past. (You'll find very few brand new parents at a weekend-music festival, for example).
However, strong couples learn how to find new things to enjoy together. While having time alone is still important (date night, anyone?) it's extremely helpful to find ways of having fun and connecting around your parenting role too.
Building a Strong, Happy Family — Together
The good news is that through preparation and communication, couples can not just avert marriage problems after baby but enter a new era of strength and satisfaction in their relationship. Yes, things change, but many couples report feeling more deeply committed to each other and their new life as a family together in the months and years after their first child.
The early stages of new parenthood require working out kinks, and learning how to work as a team in a whole new way. Having a happy marriage after parenthood means learning new ways of communicating, connecting, and enjoying life together.
Because this transition to parenthood can feel so challenging for many couples, we're devoting a whole episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to supporting you through it. Marriage and family therapist and parenting coach Jessica Small will be sharing her tips for how to not just keep your relationship strong after baby, but set yourself up for success in the years to come.
Listen now to get Jessica's advice for how to:
- Prepare your relationship for a baby
- Have crucial conversations that will help you work through issues as they come up
- How to support each other emotionally after having a baby
- Practice practical strategies to make things easier for both of you
- Keep a compassionate mindset
- Create a happy new chapter for your marriage
We hope that this information helps you successfully transition from being a happy couple to a happy family!
Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a couples counselor, premarital counselor, therapist, and life coach who is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.
In addition to working with private clients, Jessica leads our Online Postpartum Support Group.