Healthy Relationships: Bonding after Baby
Wow! Your world has just changed in a big way. A new baby dramatically changes how a couple relates. The "us" in the relationship can easily be lost in the excitement of new parenthood. Sustaining a healthy relationship between the two of you takes a bit of effort and some creative planning.
Many fathers fall in love with their newborn babies and feel an immediate sense of responsibility and protectiveness in addition to the love. Babies are fascinating and quickly capture a parent's attention. While this can feel as if he's ignoring you, a nudge may be all he needs as a reminder that you are the love of his life and that he has room, time and the capacity to love both of you.
Here's some relationship advice about how to keep a relationship healthy after baby arrives:
- Say what you feel. If quiet hints aren't working, you need to mention your feelings to him. People, particularly men, aren't mind readers. You want more of your husband's attention; you will need to spell it out for him. You might say, "Honey, do you realize you're completely ignoring me?" This isn't a competition, but rather, a family in which time and attention will have to be parceled out in new ways. He may not even realize he's seemingly abandoned you.
- Make a plan. If a calm discussion doesn't work, figure out times for just the two of you to be together to focus on keeping your relationship healthy. Hire a regular babysitter so you can spend time together as a couple. Or else make weekend plans at home: Invite friends over, asking them to bring part of the meal so you are not adding to your workload, but moving full attention away from the baby.
- Spend time alone at home. Carve out a sacred time every evening to sit down and catch up on your day—perhaps coffee or tea after the baby is asleep. Ask him about work and what went on so that the focus moves a bit from the baby. A healthy relationship takes ongoing effort—even when you're both sleep-deprived and distracted!
- Be patient and thrilled that he's interested in the baby, which probably equates to his taking some of the childcare burden off you. As your child gets older, your husband will realize that the baby will be off on her own before he knows it. And you will still be there.