By guest blogger, Amanda Berry, LMFT of Revive Relationship Therapy
Will I ever get my body back? How do I take care of myself when I’m watching over the baby all day? How will I find time for massage, mani/pedi - even just getting ready for the DAY? I feel unbalanced. I feel resentful. I feel beautiful. I can’t believe my body is capable of this. I cried six times yesterday. I’ve never felt so happy in my life. Ah, the thoughts and emotions experienced by every woman who has recently given birth. As our minds and bodies are taken over by this incredible little being, suddenly he or she becomes the one and only priority. If we don’t catch it in time, WE (the women we were before baby) suffer. That is why postpartum health and wellness is one of the most talked about and important topics - we have already put our bodies through so much and then we are thrown into the next phase of life; how will we maintain balance within ourselves? Also important and maybe less talked about; how do we maintain wellness in our relationship?
Following are several tips for staying connected to your partner post-baby:
1. Be flexible on what “date night” means. Date night absolutely does not have to mean dinner or drinks. Actually, it doesn’t have to mean leaving the house. It’s not easy to leave your 1-2 month old baby when you’re still adjusting to life as a family and experiencing extremely intense emotions (especially mom). Experiment together - plan and make a meal at home and sit by the fire (NO TV!), break out a board game for old time’s sake, have meaningful conversation.
2. Do NOT keep score. The quickest way to alienate your partner is by making sure that they do exactly as much as you do for baby. Yes - you’re both parents and you both need to partake in the family responsibilities. But, things tend to even out over time, try to allow this to happen instead of playing the “tit for tat” game every single day.
3. Talk about post-baby life BEFORE baby! Have the conversation - how do you both envision household responsibilities when baby comes home? What are your concerns about your relationship, your sex life? What are your greatest fears?
4. Make room for two different styles. Ever wanted to correct your husband a hundred times because he’s not doing it your way? I sure have. Hold back on this; it does a lot of damage over time. It is actually very healthy for your marriage and your baby to get used to different parenting styles!
5. Do not stop the gestures of appreciation. I repeat - DO NOT STOP appreciating your partner! This is so incredibly important for the overall well being of a relationship. One of my favorite small gestures is a cookie that I know my husband loves with a love note from my daughter and I. And when my husband sees me stressed and says “you’re a great mom” it does wonders for the rest of my day.
In my work, I find women to be so resilient - we are warriors in the best way. I believe that women can be the change agent in their relationships; our emotional intelligence is so evolved and usually we are wired to connect deeply with those important to us.
Having gone through the changes when bringing baby home, I'm intimately familiar with how it impacts a marriage and have had to utilize many of these skills! Revive Relatiinship Therapy can offer individual or couples counseling pre or post baby, and help you gain skills to have a more fulfilling love life. Good luck!