Inside the article: Having a baby puts a lot of pressure on your marriage, and it can be hard to catch a breath of air. The family dynamics change and suddenly, a little cutie takes priority. Discover new and practical ways to reconnect with your spouse after having a new baby.
Reconnect with Your Spouse After Baby
I remember the beautiful moment that my husband and I arrived home with our son for the first time. I’m not sure that there’s been a time in our relationship where we have felt more connected than in that moment. Together, we’d just experienced giving birth to a child (well, I did), worked though the first couple of sleepless nights, and simultaneously fell in love with our new addition.
It wasn’t long before reality set in.
There are truly no words to describe what a shuffle in family dynamics and 2 hours of sleep at night can do your behavior.
It wasn’t long before my husband and I realized that we hadn’t spent much time together at all, and spent most of the time feeling pretty disconnected. It stunk, and made us far less patient with one another when things got stressful.
We’ve spent months of work figuring out how to reconnect, and have finally landed in a good rhythm. So, I have outlined the top 10 practical ways we’ve found that actually work to reconnect with your spouse after having a baby.
The Number One Cliché: Date Your Spouse
Let me get this one out of the way. This is the number one piece of advice I heard before our son was born (honestly, since I got married, really.) And yes, the sentiment is true. However, throwing a baby in the mix makes this logistically difficult and honestly sometimes more trouble than its worth.
Yes, I said it.
With finances tight and time away from the baby spent wishing the baby were there, date night feels like a lot of effort. And it is. It should be! Here’s why.
You’ve probably heard the idea that a marriage is a living thing, and therefore, needs nurturing and watering to stay alive and grow. This requires effort! But it doesn’t have to be complicated.
My husband and I alternate planning an in-home date night every Sunday once our son goes to bed. One Sunday, my husband built a mini golf course in the living room. The next weekend, I set up an activity to bake cookies together. Before the pandemic, we also pledged to spend one day or evening every month out of the house just the two of us. This one is on hold!
It was fun trying to figure out our monthly activity, while also knowing with certainty that Sundays were to reconnect with our spouse after having a baby. Remember, the point is to connect on a friendship level and a romantic level, and to be reminded of the many reasons you are together.
Talk About Something Other Than Your Baby
Full disclosure: there are evenings where Zach & I will lie in bed and watch videos of our son. And we love it! Honestly, those evenings usually end with us feeling pretty dang connected.
The problem is that you have to be sure that you’re connecting on things outside of being parents, too. It can be really easy to get caught up in just talking about your precious bundle of joy, but surely you talked about other things before they came along.
Struggling with what to talk about? A simple solution is googling questions to ask one another. It sounds silly, but can you name your spouse’s most embarrassing moment? What about their childhood best friend? Favorite flavor of chips? Guilty pleasure?
This act focuses on your friendship and foundation. It’s in the little details! Plus, it feels really good to feel “known.”
Go to Counseling Together
You might be thinking: ok, things aren’t that bad yet. What’s the point?
As a counseling student and enthusiastic & long-term therapy attendant, I can tell you that there doesn’t need to be anything wrong to benefit from therapy. In fact, it’s so much easier to work on skills if you aren’t practicing with the hottest topics or during your biggest disagreements.
If you wait until the wheels fall off, it’s much harder to put them back on. However, if the tires just need air, it’s a less invasive and quicker task.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few resources that can help guide you in finding the perfect therapist:
- Psychology Today (US) – search by zip code, insurance provider, and therapeutic orientation
- Better Help – tele-health counseling on your schedule
- This Blog Post Guide – a comprehensive guide to finding the best counselor for your situation!
Not Into Therapy? Try a Marriage Book
It’s like the ultimate book club, but with just you and your spouse! What fun.
Ok, but in all seriousness, books can be a great way to get information across without feeling like a person is criticizing your behavior. It also gives you and your spouse things to talk about, which helps you to reconnect with your spouse after having a baby.
Some books come with assessments and quizzes to take to help with self-awareness and allow you to not only learn something new about yourself, but also your partner!
A few of my personal faves:
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
- Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage by Beth & Jeff McCord
- The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy & Kathy Keller
Make the Most of Time Without the Baby
Say date night isn’t in the cards this week, or it’s been a long day and the baby is finally in bed. Connection is still possible!
Each night when our son goes to bed, my husband and I take 30 minutes to ourselves to spend how we please. This is time for each of us to transition between being a parent and being a spouse, and also allows us to have a moment of making our own decisions. It’s glorious!
When we reconvene, most often we park it on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and work through whatever Netflix series we’re on (right now, it’s Dexter… but we’re almost done! Sad…). Some nights, we get into bed early and play Yahtzee on the iPad or watch funny videos together.
The point here is to prioritize and make time for one another even when days are busy and it would be easier to just spend that time separately. Not that there isn’t a time and a place for some solo time; in fact, some nights we prioritize that instead! Most of the time, though, we spend the evenings together.
Be Sure You’re Taking Care of You!
I know how it is. After that long day watching the baby or time spent at work, all you want to do is have nobody need you or to be left alone. I get it! So how are you supposed to reconnect with your spouse when you’ve barely connected with yourself and your needs?
The best thing I can do for my spouse at the end of a long day is be at least a little bit emotionally available, and I achieve this by focusing on my own self-care. I might use that 30 minutes I was talking about earlier, or I might negotiate a solo night so that the following night, I can be fully present with my spouse. So important!
Now that the weather is nice (well, under 100 degrees anyway!), we have started incorporating our evening walks. Our son loves hanging out in the stroller and checking out the neighborhood, and my husband and I are able to spend quality time just talking while we get some exercise.
Science shows us that being outside increases our levels of Vitamin D and improves our mood, and the exercise releases endorphins. How can you not have a positive time together with all of that good juju going on?
If it’s not an evening walk, spend a Saturday at the park or walking through your local zoo. Have coffee on the porch or take the family out to a restaurant with a patio.
Find Other Parent Friends
My husband and I are the first couple among our immediate friends to have a baby. And while they have all been instated as honorary aunts and uncles (and honestly, some killer babysitters), there is just something about talking with other parents that helps you feel validated.
When we do get a chance to hang with other parents, we spend our time talking about our kids. And the beauty of that is having other couples who understand the experience of being a parent.
My husband and I can tell the story about our horrible all-nighter we spent a few nights ago, and just talking about the shared experience can help us to feel connected.
In our last couples therapy session, we discussed focusing on reconnecting, and our therapist suggested we prioritize praying together. This might seem obvious, but I really do think it’s made a positive difference for us.
For one, it gives us both a brief moment pre-prayer to talk about what is on our hearts. Sometimes, I haven’t had a chance to talk about what’s going on in my world, so I can use this moment to say, “I have a busy week coming up, can you pray for me?”
For two, it keeps God at the center of our relationship, which is important to us. Even in our worst moments as a couple, we can take our problems to God and find relief and guidance.
Even if you aren’t religious, you can still have this practice. Spend a moment at the end of the night talking about how your partner can be thinking about you this week, or just invite them into your world for a moment. Trust me, it works!
Vent the Right Way
Finally, there are some days when you’re worn out and no amount of self-care can get you to a place where you can be present. The worst cocktail is when your partner is in the same boat!
If you need to vent about your day, but you also don’t want to wear out your partner, set a 5 minute timer and just go. After 5 minutes, allow your partner the same chunk of time. We do this when we just have to get out our frustrations about the day without being able to expect much empathy from each other.
Use these 10 ideas for how to actually reconnect with your spouse after you have a baby. It takes work, but the rewards are worth it!
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