After a baby arrives, it isn’t always easy finding time for your marriage.
Once that little bundle of joy is in your arms, everything changes. Not only do your priorities, relationships, and mood shift, but your focus on your marriage changes as well.
Time is Limited After Having a Baby
All the time you once had for yourself and your relationship is now devoted to the baby.
From figuring out your baby’s sleep schedule to nursing, pumping, doing laundry, changing diapers, trying to rest, visiting with friends and family, the early months of parenthood can be a total blur.
Parenthood Causes Marital Discord
It is also common in the early weeks of parenthood to feel like you’re losing your best friend.
During the transition to parenthood, arguments in your marriage can increase dramatically due to stress, overwhelm, and lack of sleep!
Taking care of a baby is a full-time job, and you and your husband may rarely see one another or have quality time together in a 24-hour cycle. You become “ships passing in the night.”
Unfortunately, this is not an experience that most couples talk about, so you can feel alone and worry something is wrong in your marriage.
You are not alone.
Marital Dissatisfaction Is Normal After Baby
Of course, it is normal to feel disconnected from your husband after becoming parents, but it doesn’t have to stay this way. Amid your exhaustion, you can reconnect and start nurturing your relationship again.
When our first son was born, I did not expect to be SO exhausted.
Feeling tired and overwhelmed while trying to keep up with all my “motherhood” duties and run my business felt challenging. I worked hard all day and had little to give in the evenings. I struggled to be a present, available wife.
Eventually, we figured out how to get our marital connection back on track. We started implementing new rituals and habits that benefited our relationship, we were purposeful with our free time, and we put time together on the calendar.
Small Changes Will Improve Your Marriage
Before you had a baby, you and your husband had a lot of time to be together and catch up on each other’s lives.
You could talk, share, connect, hang out… but after you had a baby, it is difficult to hang out and connect.
I used to love listening to my husband share about his day, and I loved filling him in on my day. As soon as our son was born, however, time and energy were limited, and meaningful conversations fell off.
Even today, there can be days or weeks, where we feel so depleted that a lengthy conversation with my husband feels like a luxury.
The Secret to Quality Marriage Time After Baby
Once you have a newborn (or children for that matter), the secret to staying connected and finding time for one another is to pay attention to the small moments of everyday life.
You must become conscious and purposeful with your time. If you learn how to prioritize the limited time you do have and spend it together, even just a few minutes each day, the more connected you will feel.
To help you put this into practice, I’ve compiled a list of simple tips for carving out time together.
Start implementing these ideas into your daily/weekly/monthly routine, and you’ll begin to realize that it is possible to find quality time in your busy life! They are proven ways to keep a relationship strong after a baby.
6 SIMPLE WAYS TO CONNECT AFTER BABY
1. Take a Family Walk Once Per Week – One of the simplest ways to reconnect after having a baby is going outside together and taking a walk. As soon as the baby is comfortable and ‘happy’ being in the stroller, it’s time to make family walks a regular part of your weekly routine.
In general, men tend to be more open and expressive when they’re out walking in nature. They are less worried about non-verbal cues, so this is a great time to get him talking. If you can, block out 30-40 minutes each week to head outdoors and have those more in-depth, more meaningful conversations!
EXTRA TIP: While out for a walk, try to focus on asking your husband open-ended questions to elicit a more detailed response. For example, when you ask him, “What’s your favorite part about being a dad?” you will receive more information and details. In contrast, if you ask him a closed-ended question like “Do you like being a Dad?” you will likely receive a short, non-detailed response like “yes” or “no.”
2. Hang Out Together Once Per Week WITHOUT Distractions – Nowadays, it’s pretty common to fill our downtime with screen time. From scrolling through Instagram pictures to checking our Facebook feed to binge-watching a new Netflix show, we all are pretty much becoming too comfortable diving into our phones instead of having a conversation with the person sitting next to us.
While screen time can be fine during your day, if you pour all of your free time into social media, your marriage will suffer.
To balance your time, commit to turning off your phones once per week (and any other electronic distractions). And then spend 20-30 minutes together. During this time, hang out, cuddle, kiss, talk, give each other a massage, play a board game, drink a glass of wine… What you do together is not as important. What matters is that you are free of distractions while at the same time sending the message to your husband that he and your marriage matters.
3. Go For a Drive Together – One of the things that new parents miss the most is spontaneity. Being able to jump in the car at a moment’s notice to go and explore the world was fun before the baby arrived! But after the baby, you can start to feel like you’re trapped at home.
Don’t allow this to be your narrative, find ways to get out as a family and explore.
Soon your little one will enjoy the car/car seat, and this is the time to start making plans to take small road trips together. Getting out of the house and on the road changes the scenery and the mood. While the baby sleeps or stares out the window, you and your husband are free to have meaningful conversations (that will help keep you connected), sing old songs, reminisce about the old days, plan for the future, etc.
Once you reach your destination, get out and explore your surroundings, have a meal together, feed baby, take a walk while the baby sleeps, and then jump back in the car and head home.
While this may at first seem overwhelming, the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more confident you feel in taking your baby out into the world. This freedom will have you and your husband feeling a little more like your old selves, which will make you feel happier, more satisfied, and more connected.
4. Date During the Work Week – We often think of a romantic date as something that has to happen at night. Most of us have the belief that we have to carve out time on a weekend night to be romantic and reconnect, but when you have a newborn, this can be tough.
The truth of the matter is that a date can happen at any time of day! A date can occur in the morning, afternoon, happy hour, or evening.
It can be at home, at a coffee shop, or on a hiking trail. The more you start to expand your definition of a “date,” the easier it will be to find a little time to get out alone as a couple (even just for an hour).
If you have a daytime sitter or someone you trust with your baby for an hour or two, make a plan to meet your husband during the workday for lunch, grab coffee together in the morning before he heads into the office, or meet for a drink after work before your baby’s bath time.
This way, you don’t have to worry about the night routine (someone else doing bath, putting the baby to bed, or arriving home in time for the dream feed).
The more creative and open-minded you become with your idea of a “date” the more you realize that it is possible to spend some quality time together post-baby.
5. Look For Unexpected Childcare – Sometimes, we overlook childcare that is right in front of us and feel trapped with the baby; no one is available to give us a break. While this may be true if you don’t live close to the family, I can assure you that somewhere in your community, there is a childcare option available.
For example, many gyms today have childcare. You and your husband could work out together and enjoy a smoothie after your workout while the baby is on-site with a vetted childcare provider.
OR, if you have a friend with young children, you could set up a “date swap” where one afternoon/evening you watch her child and the next week she watches yours.
OR, if you live in a neighborhood with a family with teenagers, you can begin to have the teens come over after school to grow comfortable with your child. With time, you will feel more confident leaving your baby with the teen for an hour or two while you run out for an early dinner or catch a matinee movie down the street.
(Again, the last two childcare options are perfect for a daytime or early evening date).
6. Make It Routine – If “date time” becomes a monthly ritual, it will progressively get easier to make it happen on a regular basis, which leads to consistency and a deeper connection with your husband.
Like anything else in life, the more we do it, the easier leaving your baby with someone while you spend time tending to your marriage becomes.
When you have a minute, sit down with your husband and start to put dates on the calendar. Talk about what’s realistic for your life circumstances and make a plan.
For example, maybe the two of you can commit to lunch on the first Wednesday of every month or a hike every other Saturday or Taco Tuesday at home each week after you put the baby down for the night. The point is to find something that works for both of you and make your date the most important appointment on your calendar.
While it may feel extremely challenging to carve out time for your marriage in the early weeks of the baby’s life, it is not impossible. You just have to start small, look for little moments or unique opportunities, and create consistent habits.
THE BREAKDOWN: Although right now, time together may not be as elaborate, romantic, or exciting as it was pre-baby, the goal during this phase of your family’s life is to keep your marriage strong, to continue having meaningful conversations, and to make your spouse feel like they are a priority, even if it’s just 5 minutes at a time.