Three tips to help your marriage survive a newborn.
By: Nancy Clark
Celeste here. Nancy has two qualities that made her perfect to write this guest post: she’s married and she just had a baby. 🙂 Also, she makes me laugh literally every time I’m around her and she’s my neighbor who feels obligated to say yes to me. She and her husband are so great together. We love them so. Here’s Nancy.
Obviously the little green-eyed monster I’m talking about isn’t jealousy, but your newborn. So maybe yours is actually a little blue-eyed or brown-eyed one, mine is still in the “can’t really tell what color her eyes are anyway” stage. All kidding aside, the newborn stage is a magical time when you get to welcome this new little person into your family. This new little totally helpless person that requires around the clock attention, but can’t verbalize any of their needs, so you’re left to your own devices trying to figure out what they want in your bleary-eyed state of constant exhaustion. Just magical.
Six weeks ago I had my third baby. It’s always quite apparent to me that my relationship with my husband suffers some neglect during those first weeks when the postpartum hormones are raging and all I can think about is the feeding and pooping schedule of our new little bundle.
So, here are a couple tips that I think can help you focus on your spouse during this very special, but sometimes very trying time in your marriage. All of these tips are things I am hoping to get right on the next kid because a peaceful friction-free transition during the newborn phase still eludes me. On to the list!
**** I just want to preface all of these by saying that I think the wife deserves a free pass for at least the first few days (or weeks). Especially if the delivery was a stressful one. Oh wait, having a child emerge from your body in any way, shape, or form can be slightly traumatic, so a little time to let all those new emotions settle that becoming a mother elicits is a good idea.****
1. Be overly appreciative for even the little things your spouse does for you.
I know when I have a newborn I turn into a crazy person that is always asking the people around me if they’ve washed their hands and are up to date on their vaccinations. It’s funny how having a baby can suddenly make everyone look like a walking petri dish full of contagious disease or is that just me? Anyways, I know that the little things like my husband telling me he made sure to boil the bottles or put cream on the baby’s bum help to put my new mommy mind at ease. I need to make sure I verbally acknowledge these things, so he knows I appreciate him and that his mindful deeds of service aren’t going unnoticed. A heartfelt thank you when he steps up to be Mr. Mom for our other kids, while I pump away for the baby, can sure go a long way.
2. Connect physically somehow with your spouse everyday.
The sleep deprivation alone that a newborn can cause can take its toll on a marriage. Then on top of that a doctor telling you not to have sex with your spouse for six weeks is basically a recipe for disaster or at least a grumpy husband. My personal advice during this time would be to make out a lot. Make out like teenagers in the backseat of a Chevy, at a drive in, parked at lookout point, on prom night, you get the idea. So maybe you’re not quite feeling up to “doing the deed” yet, but connecting with your husband physically whether that’s holding hands, a back rub, or just holding each other for a few moments while your newborn wails over the monitor can help you both remember that you’re a team and really the most important relationship in the house.
3. Try, try, try not to criticize and don’t make everything about the baby.
Babies are adorable and demanding and taking care of one is a full-time job that each mother has her own special way of doing. So go easy on your husband as he learns all the differences between binkies and boppys and bumbos and bugaboos. A new baby brings with it a use for a whole new set of skills and vocab, so be patient with your spouse and try to bite your tongue if he doesn’t put the diaper on or swaddle the baby exactly as you would and just be grateful he wants to help. When you have a new baby it’s sometimes hard to believe that not everyone is as interested in talking about the tiniest details of you baby’s day (bowel movements, spit ups, etc.) as you are. There have been times in the past few weeks when my husband was trying to talk to me about his fellowship applications and I couldn’t register anything he was saying because I was too preoccupied with thinking about when the next feeding was or if the constant-lack-of-sleep headache between my eyes would ever go away. I try to make a conscious effort now to ask him about his day and to talk about things relating to us and not just the baby’s latest poop blowout.
The time passes quickly, so soak up that new baby scent and nibble that peach fuzz head. Just don’t forget about your spouse and showing them your love and building your relationship because that is what will get you through all the many enjoyable, but sometimes challenging phases that lie ahead.