How to baby-proof your marriage

As a relationship counsellor
and expert, I’ve worked
with hundreds of young
couples who’ve romanticized
the birth of their
future son or daughter.
Couples have stars in their
eyes as they’re preparing for
the new baby: decorating
a nursery, buying the baby
outfi ts that will
make friends and family
ooh and ahh. Then the baby
makes her grand appearance.
Chaos ensues. The lovey-dovey
bonding experiences you had
with your husband come to
a screeching halt when your
baby becomes a full-time part
of your lives.

Instead of shopping trips
and showers, you’re faced with
dirty diapers, feeding times,
and a sense of complete and
utter exhaustion. Communication
with your husband is
reduced to a few words in passing
during midnight feedings.
And sex? Sex is a topic so far
from your vocabulary you’ve
forgotten what it means. Your
finances are a mess, too. The
nursery you fi nished decorating
has put you into debt and
the baby’s diapers and food are
expensive. The situation is even
more strenuous if you’re now
living on one income.

All of this can lead couples
to experience feelings of major
frustration in the fi rst few
years after birth. Though it’s
normal, couples want to know
what they can do to survive
going from a couple to a family.
Here are some tips for making
the transition as seamless as
possible.

Make a
financial plan

Money is the number one
culprit of anger and frustration
within a marriage. Sit
down and make a detailed
financial analysis or allowance
with your husband/partner to money you have for baby-related
items, food, and extra
items such as entertainment.
Financial planning is also an
excellent way to help you feel in
control of your future.

Create a schedule

Most relationship conflict
occurs when we expect something
to happen and it doesn’t.
Make a detailed schedule
including feeding times, when
the nanny or babysitter will
come to visit, when it’s your
turn for girls-night-out, when
you and your partner will
exercise and clean-up. This
will make you feel secure and
know what to expect. A day
of sitting around in babyland
can feel a lot more hopeful
when you can look forward to
an 8 p.m. workout or pottery
class.

Remember your joys

As the baby’s mother, you
need to be in good health and
spirits. Your good physical
and psychological health will
have a positive impact on your
child, so it’s important to remember
to do the things you
love in your life. If you enjoy
art or painting, fi nd a corner
to set up a home studio. If you
love to sing, join a choir. If you
love to travel, set up mini-trips
for your family. Taking part in
activities that allow you to feel
joy will help you to be a better mother and partner.

Make time for intimacy and heart-to-hearts

The number one thing you need in your relationship is to communicate.
It’s not all about the baby! What are your goals and
dreams for the future? What do you love most about your partner
or vice versa? Send your little one to his grandparents at least once
a month so you can reconnect. It may seem extravagant and even
selfish, but it’s not. Your marriage is important, too. Some couples
find it hard to communicate and be intimate after children. If
you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

Kimberly Moffit is a psychotherapist and relationship expert in Toronto.
Visit kimberlymoffit.com for more information.

Originally published in ParentsCanada: Me & Mom, October 2012.

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