Q:I’m a stay-at-home mom and ever since our baby was born, it seems like my husband and I are growing apart from each other. We hardly even talk anymore. We used to be great at communication, talking to each other about our days, discussing our child and what she is learning. We used to do things as a couple. But now I’m afraid our relationship isn’t as strong as it used to be. What happened?
A: When you first get married, spending time and doing things with your husband is a great pleasure. The two of you are developing ever-tighter bonds as you share and explore new experiences together.
But after a couple of kids come along it’s easy to lose track of what brought the two of you together in the first place. All of your focus is on the children and there’s often not a lot of time left for each other. If you’re like most parents of young children, it may take you a few minutes (and a few guesses) to remember the last time you and your husband went out to dinner and a movie alone.
As a result, many new parents find that their communications skills have "rusted." They don’t have nearly as many new things to talk about and they’ve lost (partially, at least) the ability to hear and understand each other.
This is when couples start growing away from each other. Your husband may need to give you a little more space when it comes to the more intimate parts of your marriage. After all, as a stay-at-home mom you’ve had your kids climbing all over you and demanding your full attention all day, the last thing you may want is to have him do the same as soon as he gets home. On the other hand, you may need to be a little more understanding of his need to connect physically. Obviously, good communication is a must.
The solution to this problem, fortunately, is as simple as it was when you were younger. Want time with that special guy (the one you’re married to) next Saturday night? Make a date. Sounds silly, but it really does work. And don’t be afraid to take the initiative and ask him out. Hey, it’s the 21st century.
At least once a month, but preferably more often, arrange for a sitter and plan an evening out. Parents often don’t feel comfortable doing this for the first couple of months after baby’s arrival, and they’re too wiped out from midnight feedings anyhow. But certainly by the time your baby is 5 or 6 months old you can leave her with a sitter and get away for a while-even if it’s only for a quick pizza at the joint down the street.
And while you’re scheduling things, don’t forget about your sex life. Sounds incredibly unromantic, but just having the big S on the calendar may actually make it more fun…. And anyway, if you’re still interested, this may be the only way it’s going to happen.
Here are a few more ideas to help you and your husband reconnect with each other:
- Set aside at least fifteen minutes a day to talk about things other than the baby. Sounds easy, but it’s harder than you think.
- Do something special for each other, but be flexible and understanding. If you’ve made surprise plans and your partner is too exhausted, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Try again another night or put the "surprise" on the calendar.
- Don’t blame the baby for your troubles. Too many couples interpret their communication problems as a sign that the baby pushed them apart and that they shouldn’t have become parents in the first place.
- Talk to other people. Hook up with other couples with kids to find out what they’ve been through, what works and what doesn’t. You might also join a new parents- or new moms group.
Finally, don’t give up. Reconnecting and maintaining a healthy relationship with your husband is going to take some work, but it can be one of the greatest gifts you give your child over the long-term.