Having your first child literally changes your world, your view of the world, and turns your relationship upside down. We hear new parents talk about how incredible it is to have created this precious little human, but they’re blown away by how much their relationship has changed because of it. As expectant parents, we plan ahead for the birth, the nursery and make sure we have all of the gear, but we don’t prepare our relationship for the dramatic change ahead.
And that’s where the trouble comes in.
Before the baby, you have time and energy to spend on one another. All of your love, attention and affection is spent on your partner. But once your baby enters the picture, your focus changes. All of that attention, affection and time get transferred to the little one, and this can leave Dad feeling dumped. Suddenly there is very little time for conversation and loving gestures and even less energy for sex and affection. You go from doing everything together to dividing and conquering to get everything done.
These changes can seem unavoidable, but these tips will help you and dad-to-be prepare and get on the same team:
- Get dad-to-be to Boot Camp for New Dads, he’ll hear from new dads about what changes they experienced with their relationships. Or talk to family, friends and coworkers what it was like for them. Knowing what might be coming is half the battle, plus it will take away some anxiety of “is this normal?”
- Pick a date now, 2 months after your baby’s due date and make that a date night. If you have one sooner, awesome, otherwise this is your chance to come up for air and spend some time together. It may seem impossible as you get closer to the date, but no cancelations or rain checks! Even though you’ll be a nervous wreck the first time, it does get easier. And your baby will get some neuron building (thanks to the new experience) time with grandma, grandpa, or whoever else is on duty.
- Commit to keeping communication open. Things will get stressful, so give each other permission now to (nicely) be honest with each other. If the baby has worn you out breastfeeding all day, don’t blow up at dad when he leans in for a kiss, just let him know it’s not personal, you have just been “touched out” today. And likewise for him, if he needs 5 minutes to change when he gets home, he should have permission to let you know.