It’s natural for your child to become your priority and your focus. However, if they are your only focus, this can be to the detriment of your marriage.
Marital dissatisfaction is highest after babies are born, which is why making time for each other and putting love first is ever more crucial. I fully appreciate that it is difficult to establish time in your new routine to address this as time is certainly more restricted when a child enters your life.
Everything begins to revolve around the baby in terms of feeds, naps and sleep patterns. This is on top of all the everyday tasks of employment and housework that you still have to tackle. You are likely to feel exhausted and drained by the constant attention that the baby requires and anything else can just feel like too much of a burden or task. It is a time where more frequent conflict between you and your partner can rear its head especially if you feel that you are not being supported physically or emotionally.
Whilst roles have changed over the years and fathers are more involved in the upbringing of their children, often mothers, especially when breast-feeding, can feel like a lot of the care is down to them which can be incredibly overwhelming at times. Studies show that this often leads to women feeling more dissatisfied than men with their marriage first, men tend to report dissatisfaction many months or a year later.
One of the reasons for this, and a threat to marital contentment, is the lack of time and energy that you possess now. All the attention that goes towards the baby can lead to feelings of jealousy and disconnection from your spouse. There is less time, up to a third less time, for potential to be close and intimate with your partner. Time becomes such a focus with all the new activities and tasks that you have to fit in. It can often feel that time is running out and unfortunately this can all too often be detrimental to your marriage. You may not feel that you can give anything more and that your spouse, being an adult, should be able to look after them self.
Ultimately, if you do not identify the changes in your roles and the adjustments in what you would like from each other then you will become discontented in your marriage. This is where resentment builds and leads to distance or angry outbursts.
The following suggestions may help to re-establish time for one another in order to create the intimacy and loving relationship you desire:
1. Prioritise time with your partner over that with friends and family.
2. Don’t be afraid to say no to events or arrangements outside of your marriage, rather than saying no to them.
3. Avoid over-committing your time, earmarking any available time for you and your partner first and foremost.
4. Acknowledge that you will no longer be able to do everything that you did before having a baby and avoid comparing yourself to others or the past.
5. Use the baby’s nap times to share time with your partner. Have a coffee together or simply have a cuddle on the sofa.
6. Turn off the TV, lap tops and put down your phone. Don’t waste time watching things on TV just because they are on social media as a habit to entertain yourself every time your child is asleep. Turn it off so that you can direct your attention to your spouse.
7. Do your best to ensure that you are both taking time to relax and to sleep. Take it turns to have lie-ins where possible and to allow each other rest time. Sleep deprivation and consequent lack of energy is also a culprit in relationship dissatisfaction. You may feel like you are exhausted much of the time. Lack of sleep can affect all aspects of your emotional and physical being. It will affect your mood, your effort towards your relationship and the love that you feel for one another. Help each other out.
The most frequent complaints I hear from fathers are, “I feel like an ATM machine, no appreciation for my hard work”. Many mothers share, “I feel I have an extra child with my husband, I do everything and get no help or thanks”.
The key to success is patience, teamwork and appreciation of each other’s roles.
Nicola Beer is a leading authority on how to save your marriage, an international best-selling author in four books and has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News Network, Huffington Post, Saffron Media and Wall Street Select. Nicola also has thousands of people download her FREE report 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage (www.savemymarriageprogram.com) or listen in to her podcast show ‘How to Save Your Marriage with Nicola Beer’ on Itunes.